We had booked a hotel directly across the Blue Mosque for our stay, Alzer Hotel. It had great rates and was centrally located to hit all the tourist spots.
|view of the Blue Mosque from the Aya Sofya|
|inside the Blue Mosque|
|old meets new...|
|can you see the blue?|
|love the chandeliers|
After our historical morning, we ventured over to the Grand Bazaar, bracing ourselves for the continued barrage of unique, humorous, offensive, or annoying comments from the various men trying to sell their wares. I had big plans of buying a lamp and rug, and ended up leaving with neither this time around. Living in Europe allows me to say, "There's always next time!"
|We were trying to catch a picture of the tea "to-go" all the time!|
The second day I woke a bit grumpy about the less than amazing food we'd had on day 1. I had such high expectations that I was completely let down by Trip Advisor and the restaurants we ate at. We decided that after our time at the Topkapi Palace we were completing abandoning the touristy areas.
The Topkapi Palace was really interesting, especially the harem portion, where you're able to see some of the living quarters. This palace was the primary home for Ottoman sultans for over 400 years beginning in the mid to late 1400s. The harem had lots of beautiful tiles covering the walls in various designs.
|Europe, Asia, Europe, Asia...look across the water at the different continents|
|inside the harem|
|tiles, tiles, and more tiles|
Next, we were off to cross the Galata Bridge and spent quite a bit of time enjoying the fisherman attempting to find today's catch. We walked up towards the Galata Tower and stumbled upon a little pottery shop with handmade bowls. It's generally a good sign when you peer through the window and see the woman in the shop working on a piece. We carried our new purchases up to the tower, then down the main shopping street of Istiklal Caddesi and over to Taksim Square.
That night we had made reservations for a Whirling Dervish Ceremony and dinner at a nearby restaurant. The Whirling Dervish ceremony started off a bit boring at first, as there was no whirling for a good 35 minutes. However, one the five dervishes started the spinning bits it was quite enthralling to watch them spin continuously. I have no idea how they do it, but it was obvious that there was definite technique involved. They also keep their hands above their heads while they spin...I was impressed.
Dinner again...left us a little unsatisfied...but definitely full. You can read about that here.
The final morning in Istanbul we took a food and market tour with Context Travel. It was so much fun, especially the spice shop. We were able to taste spices and, of course, buy them! I. Bought. A. Lot. We tasted a bunch of different things, including a dessert that was made with chicken, cold mussels with rice and spices, pickles (some pickled in lemon juice and some in vinegar), and some weird and crazy candied fruits and vegetables. I tried to be a good sport and try just about everything.
|"reading" the remains of the Turkish coffee|
|Boza- not my favorite dessert ever.|
|This is one place in Istanbul I will recommend!|
It was a fun week, but I was craving Italian food. Go figure!