Our Arrival and Getting Acquainted with Istanbul

Trip Start Jun 21, 2012
Trip End Jul 11, 2012

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Friday, June 22, 2012

We arrived in Istanbul at around 3 in the afternoon and were met at the airport by our tour guide, Cem (pronounced "Gem"). The airport is a short drive from the old part of Istanbul, south west along there Sea of Marmara. Our hotel is in the middle of the old district, very close to the Blue Mosque, Underground Cistern, and various other famous "must see" spots. We had a very rushed checkin, meeting the group in the lobby some 30 minutes after getting our room keys. Since we hadn't seen a shower in over 24 hours, with most of those spent on planes and sitting around in airports, we were very motivated to shower and freshen up! Our guide took us on a walking tour around the area, pointing out several monuments and buildings along the way... if in doubt, it was most likely built in the 4th century and has been renovated or rebuild several times since!

The Blue Mosque really has to be seen to be appreciated. It's enormous when you're inside, with one open area throughout, carpeted and facing Mecca. The walls and ceiling are tiled or painted in blue patterns, and the several domes all blend into one another, disguising the columns and supporting structures that keep the whole thing up! Then there are the four main supporting columns, referred to as the "elephants feet" - gigantic stone fluted columns of several meters diameter. It really is breathtaking.

We joined up with our group of six, people we'll be spending most of our time with. Lindsay is a lecturer at Ridley College, and has visited Istanbul a couple of times already. He's a great asset to have around, since he knows a lot about the area and what's worth doing or seeing. Ben, Ali and Steph are students at Ridley, and Mel and I make up the six.We worked our way into the narrow streets near the mosque, looking for somewhere to eat dinner and all the while trying to avoid being run over by crazy taxi drivers or trip on dug up pavement. There is obviously no such thing as suing the council if you trip over a brick in the street! O H and S are also notably absent. We found a great spot with a roof top terrace, although the Sea of Mamara wasn't visible from there. You really have to run the gauntlet of restaurant "sprukers", each desperate to have the pleasure of your company (or the money out of your pocket).

More soon - have to leave for our next days adventure!
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Judy Elliott on

Glad that you arrived safely and looks like you are having a good time. Kids are well and happy. Xx

Kath on

The photos are amazing. Obviously worth buying the camera for! Rory and I are sick, at home on the lounge.

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