New Years in Istanbul...
Trip Start Aug 20, 2009
14Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
I had a couple good shopping for winter clothes trips with Gail who knew nice places to eat and shop, a great combination. There is some good shopping to be had in Istanbul at very good prices, much better than the mid eastern countries I visited. I'm not referring to folk art/souveneirs here, it was quite noticeable when I arrived in Antakya that the clothes were from the 21st century, not the 1970's!
Visited the Topaki Palace which was so crowded I just hated it, but there was some very good views over Istanbul. Palaces always have great views, no surprise there I suppose. There was also a wonderful exhibition on at the the palace of Iranian art, dating back to the 1st century, textiles, silver work, jewellery and the most amazingly detailed hand, decorated books. It was just exquisite, would have been bitterly disappointed if it had not been for this exhibition. No photos allowed, unfortunately.
When the rain stopped one day I went for a lovely sunny afternoon walk along the Bosphorus below Sultanahmet, where I stayed, there are literally kilometers of pathway along the Boshorus
Visited the underground cisterns, built by the romans, what a weird space that is! Rows of columns standing in black, still water, lit up with red lighting, it reminded me of what Hades and the river Styx might be like. It was, however a nightmare to photograph, using a flash washed out all the atmosphere and it was nigh impossible to get a shot in focus or any depth of field without it or a tripod
The Blue mosque was BIG and quite impressive. I heard a guide telling people that the reason there were no cobwebs there was because there were ostrich eggs at the end of the wires that supported the huge circular framework of lights. "look up there you can see them...see!!" Well no, I couldn't and by the looks on the faces of his tour group neither could they!
The grand bazaar is the second biggest in the world, after the one in Cairo, I can believe it. The German guy I met in Plovdiv said that in its heyday it used to sell 30 tons of gold a day!! It is also much easier to get around and more majestic than the ones in Damascus and Aleppo which are narrow aisled labrynths full of pushy women in headscarves and black burkahs (is that how you spell that??) and a claustrophobic's nightmare
There is heaps more to do in Istanbul, I feel like I only scratced the surface, you could easily spend a couple of weeks there. I will go back to Turkey one day, it has without a doubt been my favourite country so far on this trip.
So here are the Istanbul photos...