Day 8 - Two turkeys in Istanbul

Trip Start Sep 30, 2012
Trip End Jan 09, 2013

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Flag of Turkey  , Istanbul,
Monday, October 8, 2012

After a crazy night of flying and arriving at our hotel at 3 in the morn, we arose a bit bleary eyed for breakfast at 9. Our hotel overlooks the Med with ships coming and going. It's a simple room but works. Only funny is that it is right beside the train track so we hear the rumble of the trains going by every so often. Not a major issue. Breakfast at the hotel was lovely as we sat on the rooftop terrace. Boiled eggs, fruit, cakes, bread and cheese seem to be the norm - delicious. We then took a much needed shower and headed out to see Istanbul. Fortunately the major sites are all within walking distance of our hotel so we literally strolled up the street and there in front of us was the Blue Mosque. It truly is an amazing site. Walking in one is left a little speechless. Every inch of every domed roof is intricately painted in the most vivid colors and patterns. It's still an active mosque so parts are cordoned off for worshippers. We really enjoyed just the beauty and magnificence of it all. We then headed out into the Hippodrome which was an ancient horse racing track. It has two obelisks in it, one named after Constantinople. Today it's really just a pleasant walking area as the original track and stands are gone. Interestingly in its hay day it could seat up to 100 000 spectators and there was a secret passage from the Topkapi palace to the Hippodrome for the princes and dignitaries to use.
As we headed down the street we spotted the Basilica cistern. It's an underground water reservoir built by the Romans to provide water for the palaces in the area. It could hold up to 100000 tonnes of water when it was in use. Now there is only a small amount of water compared to that but it's a very impressive place. There were some rather larger carb type fishies swimming around and I'm sure Geords would have been tempted to drop a line or two. There are also two pillars that have the heads of Medusa carved into their bases. The odd thing is that one of the heads is upside down and the other is sideways. No one know why they are there and why they aren't the right way up. One of those fascinating mysteries. We found the cistern such an interesting surprise.
We then took a walk to the Topkapi Palace. It's a massive palace that used to house the Sultans, their harams and visitors. We enjoyed the displays of the armory, uniforms and outfits of the Sultans and of special interest was the clock display and jewellery display. Clocks were a big thing during the time of the Sultans and some clockmakers only produced one clock in their lifetime as they were so intricate. Most clocks on display included both western time and Muslim time devices and some even had built in musical settings. Really fascinating. The jewellery display was also most impressive. Decorative chairs encrusted with pearls, emeralds and diamonds that we used for the Sultan to sit on during ceremonies or celebrations were amazing.
By this stage our feet were paining and our tummies rumbling so we headed off in the direction of our hotel in search of food. We chose a lovely quite spot and ordered a lamb and chicken kebab. This amazing puffy Turkish bread arrived with some butter and grated cheese. Delicious! We ordered an apple tea each which was so sweet and welcoming after a day of site seeing. Our kebabs arrived. They are basically sosaties with the cubes of meat taken off the stick and served with some slices of tomato, shredded lettuce, roasted green chillies and some rice. The meat was so tender and delicious. We then headed to our room for a nap as the travel night caught up with us.
During the early evening we headed out for a little stroll and enjoyed seeing the interesting shops and wares on sale. There are the most intricate plates, jugs and lanterns here that we just loved. We even spotted a shop selling Turkish delights! After a few tasters we bought a tiny sample of a pistachio and pomegranate Turkish delight. Yum! For dinner we had a mezze platter and a spicy ground meat kebab at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Blue Mosque. We heard the evening call to prayer as we enjoyed our meal.
Our first day has been so lovely. We both agree that the food is so tasty and great value for money. Best of all it's not laden with garlic! The sites have truly amazed us and we feel very privileged to have seen so much in our first day. Looking forward to the Grand Bazaar and the Ayasofia mosque tomorrow.
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Mark on

Great been able to keep with the Amazing adventure... Thx for sharing..

Michelle Barnard on

Such worthy lifetime memories...

Tracy on

Hi guys,

I'm loving your blog so far! - keep it up :-)

antonmarsh on

Thanks Tracy

Glen Boonzaier on

So interesting...
Do you guys have some sort of guides helping you out?

Sorry, I'm just catching up on your blog... TI still got us bigged down.

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