The city where West meets East
10.25.2007 - 10.31.2007
With the recent Turkish pro-war / anti-PKK rallies and disagreements with the US, we were a bit concerned about how Americans would be received in Istanbul. However, our concerns quickly dispelled upon arrival. Istanbul is a wonderful city filled with fabulous architecture, food, and people. We highly recommend visiting this city if you ever get a chance.
To experience the city, we skipped using the ever-so-helpful hotel points and chose to stay at local Ottoman style hotels in Istanbul’s touristy Sultanahmet area. We whole-heartedly recommend doing this when visiting the city. (The Ibrahim Pasha and the Empress Zoe hotels are especially nice with their outstanding service and style.) Many of the key sites are located in Sultanahmet, including the Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and Topkapi Palace. Each were amazing, with fabulous architecture, art, and history. Jeffrey’s favorite spot was the Basilica Cistern, the underground cistern built by the Byzantines in the 6th century. Iris’ favorite was the Aya Sophia, with a rich history as a church, mosque, and now museum. Here are pictures of both along with the Blue Mosque.
Observing the whirling dervish performance was a major highlight. In addition, the Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar were overwhelming with the maze of vendors to weave through. As we passed each of the vendors’ stalls, they would persuade us with “Where are you from?” and “Please take my business card.” We got a kick out of all the business cards we’d get handed. It was quite an experience! Though, we did succumb to purchasing yummy Turkish delights in the Spice Market.
And the food was amazing! The Turkish delights we bought didn’t make it out of the country. We also enjoyed fish sandwiches and sardines from the fishermen at the fish market. Both were fabulous and extremely fresh. The feasting on mezze (small communal plates like tapas) was great in the boisterous Beyoglu area. The freshly squeezed pomegranate juice was especially refreshing between sites and after long walks. Hot apple tea is mandatory as an afternoon or after dinner drink.
We’re sad to go, but our journey continues back to Africa with a week in Egypt seeing Cairo, Aswan, and Luxor.