Vacation – part 2

Istanbul was very different than any other place I have ever been.

We were only there for four days, and so we certainly didn’t see everything we had wanted to. We stayed in a lovely little b-and-b style hotel in the old district of Sultanahmet, with a view of the amazing Blue Mosque out our window. (It’s not all that blue, by the way.) We heard the exotic and eerie call to worship at around 4:30 every morning and at around 10 pm (there are three other calls in between, but we weren’t always in the vicinity to hear them). DSCF0250

It’s such a beautiful building inside, with thick red and blue carpets and intricate tile work on the walls, arches, columns, and dome. DSCF0266 They’ve got quite the assembly line at the tourist entrance too: here’s where you remove your shoes, here’s a plastic bag to carry them, here’s a person giving you the quick once-over to see if you’re showing too much leg and efficiently wrapping you in a long blue velcro-ed skirt if you are (I was), here’s another person glancing at you to see if you’re showing your shoulders and tossing you a blue scarf to cover yourself if you are (again, I was), here’s the door, now enter! And oh yes, be quiet and respectful and stay on the non-Muslim side, please.

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The Hagia Sophia quite literally took my breath away. It’s the biggest, most beautiful and airy cathedral/ mosque/ museum I have ever had the pleasure to enter. It is just so wonderful, I can’t even express how I felt when I walked in! This building was DD’s chief reason for wanting to visit Istanbul, and she was not disappointed by what she saw, either. As I had come to expect, she was able to tell me (in as much detail as I could take in) all about the architecture and the mosaic art there. DSCF0258

Another highlight was the Topkapi Palace, the residence of sultans and the administrative centre of the Ottoman empire for 400 years, up to 1855. The grounds are huge, with so many gorgeous buildings to visit and views out over the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Strait. My favourite place was definitely the harem, with apartments and reception rooms all opulent with porcelain tiles, stained glass, marble, gold leaf, mother-of-pearl and the like on the walls, archways, columns and domes. DSCF0306 DSCF0315 DSCF0351

Among other activities, we took a ratty-looking ferry boat up the Bosphorus and got off on the Asian side, just so DD and I can now say that we have set foot in Asia. We had the world’s best yogurt there (and I’m not the only person to make that claim, just so you know), in a small town called Kanlica. This yogurt is soooooo creamy, with a very thin (not gross or anything) skin, and they sweeten it with a dollop of icing sugar. Big yum!

And of course I bought a Turkish carpet! Why else would I go to Turkey??? DSCN0814

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13 responses to “Vacation – part 2

  1. Maureen – That carpet is actually the type of souvenir I love: of identifiable origin and also very practical. And I can gaze at it easily every day, because it’s in my living room!

  2. Beautiful photos; and HA! about the Turkish rug!!!!

  3. Bevchen – I wonder if I’ll be able to replicate that yummy yoghurt taste treat here at home: icing sugar I’ve got, but creamy Turkish yoghurt might be a bit of a stretch here in Canada!

    Jazz – So next year, you and Mr Jazz will plan your trip to Turkey, right???

    XUP – DD was the one who really, really wanted to go to Turkey, and I’m glad I listened to her, really. It was just such an experience!

  4. I haven’t always wanted to go to Turkey, but some of that architecture is certainly spectacular! And I love the carpet. But mostly I’ve just been sitting here in rainy Ottawa day after day weeping at all the beautiful (sunny) places you’ve been

  5. Turkey! Like VioletSky I’ve always wanted to go there…

  6. The yoghurt sounds delicious. And I love the carpet.

  7. Lovely photos. And… did you haggle over the carpet price? However did you get it home?

    • Ricardipus – I actually bought the carpet from the owner of the hotel we stayed in, so there wasn’t a lot of haggling involved at all, thank goodness (mostly about the price in cash vs if I paid with my credit card). To get it home, I folded the sucker up, tucked it into a shopping bag, and carried it on the plane with me. Good thing too, what with luggage being lost and all!

  8. Choppy Sunflower – I’m still drooling over that yogurt, and so disappointed that I’ll probably never taste it again. But YOU, on the other hand … Istanbul would only be a couple of hours away by air, so you must go and eat some for me one day!

    Nora & Lola – Thank you, ladies. And yes, your advice was quite useful: no olive caca touched either DD or myself!

  9. Dear Pinklea!
    Thanks so much for your lovely comment at my place and just to let you know you are included in this once-in-a-lifetime random draw on July 31st for such a coveted Christmas in July giveaway!!
    But can’t stop ‘cos got to visit the 60 odd other participants and other visitors!

    Have a wonderful weekend and see you again soon!

    xxLOL LOLA:)
    PS So pleased you enjoyed yr vacation! Hope mon petit conseil was helpful!

  10. choppysunflower

    I’ve heard that Istanbul is a lovely place to visit and I hope to go there myself some day to see the sights you did and more, and to taste that yogurt.

  11. VioletSky – It would have been great to have been able to get out of Istanbul and REALLY do Turkey. Apparently there are more Greek ruins in Turkey than in Greece, so even DD might have been happy to explore further afield.

  12. Part 1 was nice to read about – but THIS is my dream vacation. I’ve always wanted to see Turkey, but was afraid that I would be disappointed (that it would be more westernized).

    Nice carpet.