Loving Istanbul

Trip Start Sep 20, 2012
Trip End Nov 13, 2012

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Where I stayed
What I did
Hagia Sophia Museum / The Blue Mosque/ The Cistern / The Grand Bazaar

Flag of Turkey  ,
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Up early to beat the queue for the Hagia Sophia but no such luck. Fortunately, we had already purchased tickets so our queue wasn't too bad. Inside the mosque which is now a museum is quite amazing. It was constructed by Emperor Justinian for the eastern Roman Empire during the Byzantine Age. It was originally a church for 916 years then when the Ottomans invaded, they converted it into a mosque which was used for 481 years. It still has Christian religious iconography on the walls. It is quite spectacular with marble floors, intricate painted walls and beautiful stained windows.
Next we headed to the Cistern which is an underground water storage built during the Byzantine Period. Restoration was completed in 1987. It is quite mystic - reminds me of being in the sewers of Phantom of the Opera. It has very subdued candle light and soft music. And huge fish that swin around in a foot of water. They did have a costume dress up kiosk so Kerry Blaylock and myself dressed up in our harem gear and had a photo. A bit of fun!
Next we walked across to The Blue Mosque, so named because its tiles and embellishments are mostly blue and green colours on the walls and domes. Had to take our shoes off and put a scarf across our shoulders but we didn't have to cover our heads. It's large inside and quite nice but not a patch on Hagia Sophia.
Then we hit the Grand Bazaar - like Paddy's except 10 times larger. We spent a couple of hours in there, bought a few things but it was pretty frenetic and were constantly hassled by the shop owners to buy from their shop - carpets, suits, furs, lamps, jewellry - you name it , they sold it. Anyway, we finished our stay in Istanbul absolutely charmed by the place and its people.
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