Saturday, October 8, 2011

Istanbul, not Constantinople...Day 1

After surviving our first night in the scorpion cave, it was finally time to see the sights of Istanbul!  Eric and I have dreamed of this day for many years, so we were giddy at the thought of it.  We decided to spend the first day going around to the markets and wandering, and the second day seeing the historical sights.  This turned out to be a muy buen plan, because it poured down rain for the rest of our time in Turkey.

Here we are entering the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.  It was quite overwhelming at first, so not much wheeling and dealing was done this day, but much amazement was had here.  I managed to fall in love with a $4,000 diamond ring, and our friends were beguiled by a $800 gold bangle.  Luckily, all parties decided not to let the Bazaar have its way with us, and we carried on.

Inside the Bazaar, in one of the many jewelry lanes.  So much sparkle..  

We wandered out of the bazaar and winded through the backstreets to visit the Mosque of Suleiman.  This was the first time we had ever been to a mosque, so it was very exciting.

Here I am ready to go in!  On the way over we stopped at a small street stall and purchased our own scarves, which I later named "Mosque Hats".  When we arrived at the Mosque, there was a pile of mosque hats outside and a note asking women to please put one on before entering.  I am SO glad I bought my own, and did not have to wear a used mosque hat.  Just saying.

This dome was amazing.  Large, and beautiful.  I sat and stared at it for awhile.  I think my friends thought I might be going crazy...I don't usually sit quietly for that long.

The detail was stunning.  

And that

This was the inscription over the main entrance (I think).  I don't know what it says, but it is pretty.

After our mosque visit, we decided to walk to Asia.  Ya know, because we were hanging out in Europe, and Asia was just over the bridge.  On the way, I was tantalized by this goat milk ice cream stand.  I should have stayed away.  This was the grossest ice cream I have ever had.  Ever.  First of all, I think there was false advertising, because it tasted like cow milk ice cream.  Second of all, it was chewy.  !!!  I had to bite it to get any ice cream, then I had to chew it.  No melty goodness, just chewy badness.  Anyway...

Here are V & S prepping for our trip to Asia.  Psst, that's the Blue Mosque in the background!  I was apparently cropped out of this picture for making a weird face.  Must have been in the continent hopping zone!

So, we walked to Asia, climbed a hill and spied a tower that looked like something a tourist would enjoy.  By this point, we had wondered off of Eric's pre-planned tour (Asia was for Sunday!  Sunday!!), but he was a good sport about it.  Anyway, we got in line for the tower, and were not disappointed.  The weather was perfect, and the views were incredible!

Queso!  From the top of Galata Tower.

We meandered through new town for awhile, and met this disturbing sculpture wearing a fez.  Yikes.  We passed the Agatha Christie museum, which we did not visit.  We may have deeply saddened of one of our group members by voting to not enter, but she kept her heartbreak concealed well. 

Here is S with the Turkcell thing.  Pictures of it were all over the city, so getting to meet it in person was a huge honor.

After a delicious lunch and some much needed caffeine, we set off for Europe again, destination Spice Market.  On the way, we passed the New Mosque, and decided to check it out.  We had to get he most out of our new mosque hats, right?

Here are the domes and beautiful tile work inside the New Mosque.  It's so beautiful!

More views of the splendor.

The New Mosque was conveniently located  right next door to the Spice Market, which was packed with wall to wall people.  It smelled amazing in here.

Views of the spices.  I was way to overwhelmed to buy anything, but it was fun looking.

We decided o go back to hotel to rest for a bit after the sensory overload of the day, but we had to fight our way there through this gigantic crowd.

After relaxing with some E!, mostly in English, we collected ourselves and headed off to a delicious dinner with, get this, actual other people in the restaurant at the same time as us.  !!!  It's a miracle.  We then headed out to enjoy a hookah at a local hookah-ria, as you do in Turkey, and learned how to play backgammon.  All in all, a great day!

The Hagia Sofia by night.  Can't wait for tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. oh oh oh something to see thanks for the trip that i will never probably take...debbie and i had a vacation from the poker going on here at their house.....we will be eating turkey american enchiladas for dinner.....enjoyed so mucho turkey not in the form of dinner......chrissy is here and we are so excited to see you both in about six weeks. love you mom and rich