Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Turkey Day in Turkey: Istanbul

Turkey Day in Turkey:

Bekah, Sharia, Annie, Patrick, and I are spending the Thanksgiving holidays in Turkey this year.

We arrived in Istanbul in the early afternoon and took the airport shuttle to the hostel, which we are pretty sure was involved in some illegal operations.

The sunshine and warmth of the people immediately struck us.  We weren't in Moscow anymore.

Sharia and I set out for an afternoon run.  Unfortunately, we received a number of strange looks.  While I felt relatively safe running, I don't think I will be running in Turkey anymore due to cultural discrepancies. 

Later, we did some exploring and went inside the Blue Mosque, which was the first time I had ever been inside a mosque.  

I was surprised to learn that men and women pray separately.  I don't know as much as I would like about the Muslim faith.

Then, we sampled some Turkish cuisine, which is a cross between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking.  I can't say I am the biggest fan. 

The next morning, Annie, Patrick, and I went to the Hagia Sophia.

The Hagia Sophia is considered the archetype of Byzantine Architecture.

It was dedicated in 537 A.D. as an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral.  It became an Imperial Mosque in 1453 after Sultan Mehmed laid siege to Constantinople.

The grandeur of the Hagia Sophia overwhelmed me.  It may have also been the oldest building I have ever been inside.

That afternoon, we also explored the Basilica Cistern, an underground cistern built in the 6th century.  

Not much is known about the cistern or the rationale behind the Medusa heads that lie rotated in the northwest corners of the underground edifice.

Patrick then led us on an adventure through some of the rougher parts of town in search of the best Turkish Delight in Turkey.

There was so much decay and so many bombed-out buildings.  I guess with a city of fifteen million, one can see a wide range on the poverty spectrum. 

Our hostel lacked hot water, so on our next morning, Annie and I went to the Turkish Bath House.

We then faced a dilemma, should we move into a hotel or should we stay in the hostel and go to a Haman everyday? 

As much as we loved the bath house, we decided to move into the Naz Wooden House Hotel in order to sleep better and enjoy some of the necessities that the hostel lacked.

New Room!

Our porch

View of the Blue Mosque from our Hotel
Later that afternoon, we visited the New Mosque and Spice Bazaar.

Then, we re-caffienated with some Turkish Coffee (my new obsession) and went to the movie theatre to see Skyfall, the most recent James Bond film.

The opening scenes of the film looked oddly familiar.  As soon as we saw the Dolphin Police, we realized that James Bond was in Istanbul!  What an awesome coincidence!

Going to the movies in a foreign country is always fun.  Halfway through the film, at one of the most intense moments, the picture suddenly changed to a Turkish cartoon.  In Turkey, films have a short intermission.  I'm surprised that American cinemas do not offer the same break so that guests can purchase more refreshments.

On our next day in Turkey, we met Sharia's friend, who took us on a ferry ride to the Asian side.

There wasn't much to do over there, but I enjoyed seeing a part of Istanbul relatively free from tourist institutions.

Today, our last full day in Istanbul, we are going to the Grand Bazaar to do some shopping.  Then, we are catching a short flight to Ephesus!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! I've heard that Turkey is an incredible country filled with cultural wonders, and your photos prove that to be true. I bet running through there was really odd though, the natives certainly aren't used to seeing anyone run for pleasure I'm sure! Glad to see you had a great (and unique!) Thanksgiving.