My friend Britta flew from San Francisco to meet me in Istanbul for the next leg of the trip. Poor thing - it took her 21 hours to get there! Yuck!
The gorgeous view from our hostel. That's the Bosphorous in front of us from the terrace where we ate breakfast every morning and hung out every night. Behind us was another terrace on a higher level that had spectacular views of the Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque (those two get their own posts because they were just too special).
Our cute neighborhood! We stayed on the Europe side and looked across the Bosphorous to the Asia side. Cool right? The city is on 2 continents.
Gorgeous, no? This was how I would describe the city - rich, vibrant colors found on their rugs, tiles, and plates for sale. For a girl who loves the primary colors, I was in love!
The men drink this apple tea in the afternoons and then leave the saucers and tulip cups outside to be picked up. There is some sort of tea service that comes around to drop these off and pick them up. Yes, I was tempted to take one or two. Or eight.
The guy who was picking them up laughed at me when he saw me taking this picture.
An archway at Topkapi palace (link takes you to it's Wikipedia page). At the palace they have a room for relics that used to be where they would conduct religious instruction, ceremony, etc. Some of the relics we saw were: Muhammed's tooth, part of his beard (both in a small reliquary box), the staff of Moses, the sword of King David, and the forearm of John the Baptist.....Check those off my bucket list!
These lamps were everywhere. If I was wealthy I would have bought so much more and shipped everything home. The downside of backpacking is that you have to carry everything with you until you get home.
Kebabs! Everywhere you turned. One day we saw one that was probably 5 times bigger than this. No joke. They just cook it all day and shave off what they need to make sandwiches and wraps all day. Most of them are lamb or chicken.
We went for a day cruise on the Bosphorous
The final stop in the cruise was the community that is closest to the Black Sea. There are ruins of a castle fortress at the top of a hill so we hiked up to see it. This was all we got because when you get to there (after passing many signs pointing you in the right direction) you come upon a final sign that lets you know that it's closed for excavation. Awesome. Nice view though.
Treats, treats and more treats! Britta noshed on baklava everyday, I don't like anything dripping in honey, especially dessert so I favored everything else.
We stumbled upon a street fair one evening and these guys were there making this candy. They would wind the different flavors around the sticks and make beautiful looking hard candy.
THE CISTERN!!!! So cool, so so so cool. Built by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. Wikipedia link here. Read it!
If you read the link you understand this picture. If not, fine. There are two Medusa heads in the far corner that are used to support columns connecting to the ceiling. One is turned on its side, the other is upside down. They don't know exactly why they are there or why they are positioned that way. Justinian was Christian so he wouldn't have believed in mythology. So was it just leftover building material, or a warning to people to not focus on tales from the past, or did some of the old superstitions still linger? Who knows?
Spice market - beautiful
I had my fair share of Turkish Delight. They are good at giving samples. Like, Costco good.
Street ice cream! Oh, and meet Britta.
Istanbul was amazing, I suggest that everyone go there. The history there is overwhelming but in a good way. It;s not just world history but religious history as well. It is 99% Muslim but that's fairly new (500 years) for the area. The people are great, unless they rip you off while buying baklava and ice cream. I'm now obsessed with figs. Thanks a lot, Istanbul.
All in all, I loved.