Monday, July 11, 2016

Ancient Istanbul......Oh what a time we had!

 Months before we left on our 6 week adventure. we started pricing flights home from Rome.....Turkish air was the most reasonable, and when we found out that we could layover in Istanbul for 3 days for only 60 bucks was a no brainer!  One word to the wise attention to the airport you chose....Istanbul has 2.  One fairly close and one verrrrrry far away!!! Pay attention People.

If Istanbul is a cruise port for you and you are there for just the day, I suggest a taxi to the blue Mosque, Free entrance. From there you can walk to the Hagia Sophia, about 12 USD pp. They take credit cards and Turkish TL ( 40 TL)  only.  No Euros or USD are accepted at the ticket counter.          
Spend some time in the park area...just to get a feel for the life in this beautiful area. Then stroll up to the grand bazaar, a 10 min walk. have a Turkish coffee and a won't regret it!

In Rome,checking flight details.....
On time...check
baggage checked....good to go
right airport? Hell no, I picked the one that was an hour away! 
during rush hour!  NOT

Alas....I can always detect a silver lining.....The airport I picked was in Asia...YES...I said Asia!
How fun is that! our 2 continent trip, now became three....Here we are crossing over to Europe....I was instantly enchanted!

After 2.5 hours on the bumper to bumper freeway, we finally entered Istanbul and were greeted by the most amazing sunset....
Silver lining?...check!

We booked a room in a small hotel on Airbnb....the stairs were a little crazy, but heck...I'm tough! And it was not the first time we encountered stairs in our airbnb lodgings.... If you can't climb stairs...always ask your host before you book!

And look at our room! Complete with balcony, and a view over the sea! We used airbnb all over Europe, and for the most part had wonderful experiences! Plus we never paid more than 60 USD a night. ( this room was only 36 USD a night!)

This room came with an amazing Turkish breakfast!

After breakfast we walked up the street and ran into the Blue Mosque! On airbnb it's Location, Location, Location!

5 minutes away, we walked to the Hagia Sophia Mosque....OMG I was so Impressed! This Mosque was once a Cathedral built in the early days of Constantinople...Almost 1500 years old!  It is now a museum, and is available to visit by anyone. We bought our tickets at the site, early in the day. It is best to go early when it is still cool, and less crowded. 

Amazing architecture that combines early christian art, with Muslim simplicity. I loved our time here. 

I took a zillion pictures.....

This one is from the second level...Just as impressive as the ground floor!

Afterwards we ate corn from a street vendor....Street vendors are everywhere, and the food is oh so yummy!

Walked the old streets to the ancient Grand Bazaar...

Walking into this bazaar was walking back in time....

You could buy anything you wanted!

We stopped for a Turkish coffee, and an iced coffee for me...I was roasting by this time!!!
It was cold.....but no ice! It was delicious, thick and smooth!

Joel loved the coffee....

Coffee and our tickets to the Mosque...

Hagia Sophia is even more beautiful by night. Just behind us is a park, where people are strolling, eating local food from little carts, and just enjoying life.....a block away is a wonderful street with outdoor cafes and coffee places...We loved it here and came back each night just to enjoy watching children and families being together.

a view of the park fountain all lit up.... it dances and changes delightful!

The Blue Mosque is just as beautiful, although not quite as old!

We dressed respectfully, wearing long pants and shirts with sleeves. I brought a scarf to cover my head. we were quiet and filled with the beauty of this place.  

The mosaics are amazing

So beautiful!

It was an amazing experience to visit.....

Just outside the mosque is one side of the park....

If you turn around you can see Hagia Sophia, on the other side. Just to give you an idea how easy it is to walk from one Mosque to the other...I have to say, this area was my favorite!

We bought fried bread with Nutella for Joel and creamy cheese for me....We had these delightful pastries every day! We are hooked!!!  3 TL or 1 Euro! Worth every penny!

Of course we had to try the Baklava and coffee, with Turkish ice cream.....Oh so yummy!
this restaurant was right next to our hotel, and had a beautiful view of the sea!
Oh the luxury! 

Turkish air is a first class airline.....It was a long trip home...10 hours in the air, but we had lots of Movies, food, free wine....( my personal favorite!) So the time passed quickly....
Many people thought we were nuts to go to Turkey....I think they are nuts not to go....It is a beautiful, historical city filled with wonderful and warm people.....