Istanbul (Not Con-stan-ti-no-ple!)
Trip Start Feb 22, 2011
51Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Beyoglu Taksim area
First, Istanbul was nothing like what were expected. It was a much larger, more modern and "Western" than we had expected. It had a beautiful balance of ancient history and youthful energy. There was an amazing mix of diversity which we felt in its friendly, fun ambiance. One of the things we admired most was the way street cats were well taken care of - everyone had food or a soft hand for them. This was very different treatment from some countries we had been to!
On our first day out we explored the Prince's Islands with Kathleen and Dan and soon realized that this city was much like our beloved San Francisco – it's surrounded by water and has some stunning views. During our ferry ride across the Sea of Marmara we saw ancient mosques, palaces and the true vastness of Istanbul. This place is HUGE; something like 11 million huge! There's a massive East and West side to the city and from the boat we could tell we'd never see it all. Our trip to out to Burgazada Island was highlighted with a beach-side BBQ, lots of laughs and more of those great city views. It was a perfect entry into Istanbul.
Over the next few days we explored the city by day and night. The weather was perfect and our days were long. We saw the famous Blue Mosque, the impressive Hagia Sophia, the historic Topkapi Palace and the large underground cisterns. We enjoyed soaking in all the food, culture and sights we could.
Some of the most memorable moments included:
- Wading through thousands of locals that were celebrating Ramadan with their families.
- Fading into a daze watching the Whirling Dervishes.
- Posing for our royal photos!
- Getting a full body scrub at a Turkish Bathhouse - wild and weird!
- Meeting other ex-pats at a pot-luck dinner hosted by Kathleen and Dan.
- Ordering a sandwich from the rocking fish boats.
- Enjoying the sunset from a roof-top restaurant while the call to evening prayer rolled across the city.
- The determined and endless selling of Turkish carpets.
- Our final sunset from the shores of the East side.