Wandering the city

Trip Start Jul 14, 2002
Trip End Dec 17, 2007

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Flag of Turkey  , Istanbul,
Thursday, April 29, 2010

With our first full day in Istanbul we wandered around the main sites. Just around the corner from the hotel was the Egyptian column, with a dog fast asleep in from of it. We took some photos and then headed straight for the blue mosque. From the outside, it was a very large mosque, but inside it was beautiful. It was decorated with tiles, all of which had patterns on in various shades of blue. There were also lots of lights hanging from the ceiling, adding to the atmosphere.

Leaving the mosque, we walked through some beautiful gardens, filled with flowers and a fountain. As it was only April, it was not so hot, and instead was a lovely spring day with a clear blue sky and the sun was shining. The gardens were so pretty, and so we sat for a bit to appreciate it. We took a slight detour to a tomb, which was quite nice, but had a family of cats living in the corner, which were adorable. We then went to the Aya Sofya. I had purposely avoided looking at photos of the Aya Sofya, because I wanted to be surprised when I saw it. It was very impressive, with high ceilings and gold mosaics. It looked like a mosque on the inside, but is no longer used as one. There were even some parts left from when it was a Christian building, such as mosaics of scenes from the bible, and crosses that had been removed from the wall but left a mark. It was very interesting and it's probably best to look at my photos to get an idea of what it looks like rather than me trying to describe it. There was a small hole in one of the pillars where hundreds of years of people putting their finger in the hole has caused a very large hole to be created, and it's supposed to be good luck to put your thumb in it and move your hand in a circle, so I queued up with lots of schoolchildren and had a go.

For lunch we went to a tiny restaurant where we ate Turkish pizzas. They were not really like pizza, more a flat bread with cheese and meat that is cooked, folded over and then cooked again. They were very tasty and surprisingly filling.

After lunch we visited the Basilica Cistern, an underground palace filled with water. There were many columns lit up, which reflected in the water. It was quite unusual, and reminded me of my visit to Bath. One of the columns was upside down, with the face of a woman on it.

We wandered down to the park, and then over to the river, where we stopped to look at the fishermen and the large numbers of jellyfish in the water. We also visited another mosque, which in my opinion was just as pretty as the blue mosque, if not better. I had to wear a headscarf to go in, which I had no idea how to tie!

After the mosque we went to the Spice Bazaar, soaking up the colours and smells of all the exotic spices. It was interesting just to watch the haggling taking place, so we didn't buy anything. We had dinner back in the Old Quarter, where I had a delicious casserole covered in yogurt and humus with bacon. Mmmm!
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