Turning Thirty in Turkey
Trip Start May 04, 2011
89Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
What I did
Mosques, Palaces, Bosphorus
Our hotel is great. Very nice staff, big room with 2 king size beds, and best hotel breakfast I’ve seen. No view, but I just wanted the space and a bit of luxury knowing that the remainder of our trip accommodation is more budget. Istanbul is a very historic city and one that I had little knowledge of. A city that started Greek (Byzantine), and then Roman (Constantinople), and then under the Ottomans from the 1400’s as a Muslim city where all bar 1 of the Christian churches were turned into elaborate mosques. Lots of history, lots of culture and a city that is split by the Bosphorus river/strait that divides Asia from Europe. There seems way too many people in this city and every street is bustling and a bit annoying with traffic, people and stray cats. Plus it is a struggle to find a place that serves alcohol in this Muslim city – especially when you’ve walked a mile in blazing sun and have no idea where you are!
We were fortunate to be able to check in our room despite arriving at the hotel around 830am
Day 2 started at the Basilica Cistern, which was the city’s main water supply in the Roman period and now a very impressive underground structure with many marble pillars all lit up reflecting over about a foot of water where many fish now swim about. Then to the Palace where we spent a good 5 hrs exploring the many rooms of the Sultan’s main residence and ceremonial chambers. No photos allowed in the Treasury, but impressive jewels, thrones and weapons. Including a massive diamond that was uncovered in a landfill! Even saw Moses’ cane and other relics from prophets. I then had the most bizarre haircut experience I’ve had. I’m used to the lack of English and random cut, but this barber was accompanied by an 8 yr old boy who made me an Apple tea, gave me a neck massage and then the barber put a wad of cotton wool between the scissor blades and the kid brought out the biggest cigarette lighter I’ve ever seen
And then the day...the big 3-0! Age has never meant a great deal to me, and even as a teenager I wished I could just skip a decade to a period where I was financially secure, knowledgeable and able to do what I want to do. So, with dedication and determination I have got myself to that point and spending my birthday in a place such as Istanbul is something that I would never ever have thought of just a few years ago. And to be in a position to bring my Mother who never dreamed she would ever see these places in her lifetime is quite special. So, even tho age is just a number, it still warrants a splurge and a cracker of an experience to remember this milestone by. So, I didn’t want to hold back. Cruising up the Bosphorus in a private ’yacht’ (I still hesitate saying yacht cause it is not what I would call a yacht, but that is what their website says) all the way to the Black Sea was a great day out. Of course, having a few more friends and family on the boat would’ve been great...maybe for the 40th hahhha
We were shuttled back to the hotel about 4pm and skyped my sisters from the roof-top terrace. A great way to reflect on the cruise. Then off to a fancy roof-top restaurant on the other side of the city with an amazing view from the best table and delicious food, wine and a night-cap scotch. A great way to finish the day!