The Istanbul part of our trip is nearly over. I feel like we’ve seen so much, yet barely scratched the surface. There is so much to discover here, so many layers of history to peel back.
From the minute we arrived, I loved this city. It is so beautiful, more even than I expected, and in a different way. I love the narrow, winding, steep cobblestone streets, the sighing minarets and domes of the mosques, the leafy streets and broken down buildings and Byzantine arches.
The Grand Bazaar was much more beautiful than I expected. I loved the booksellers market next door, with its sleeping kittens among the calligraphy scrolls. The Blue Mosque was gorgeous, but the Hagia Sophia was my favorite of the “big” sites we visited. The mixture of cultures and religions there was fascinating, and I adored the intricate mosaics. Topkapi Palace was gorgeous and had beautiful grounds, but so crowded. My favorite part of Topkapi was the Harem, where the centuries of palace intrigue and scandal and power struggles was palpable.
We’ve been to Galata Bridge, where we had a beer at one of the many restaurants on the bridge watching the sunset. Visited many parts of Beyoglu, walked up Istiklal Caddesi (pedestrian shopping street) and explored side streets and cafes/bars. The main beer here, Efes Pilsen, isn’t great but isn’t bad. Went to Taksim Square, saw visible signs of the protests, small groups holding vigils, major police presence and areas taped off for construction activities. Unreal and powerful.
We’ve had some excellent food, fresh cheese and fruit and vegetables, and pita — so much pita, all of it very good. Some excellent meze, wonderful cey (Turkish tea) and Turkish coffee.
I think I’ll write about the other neighborhoods we saw and sites we visited in my next post. Having done so much in four days, it is astounding (and exciting) to think how much more there is to see here.