|Some delicious looking mosque|
But yes. I wont bore you more. Here are all the juicy, not so juicy and all the dry details!
|Dad and stepmum enjoying some Lokma Tatlisi|
The staff at our hotel were so strange. During a power cut one night we approached the hotel doors and the receptionist pretended to give us a sci-fi face scan in the dark with sound effects and all to see if we would be allowed to enter. It was hilarious! And the waiters at the rooftop restaurants were so animated and gesticulated so wildly that we were entertained every minute we sat there. It would appear the Turks have a really inclusive sense of humour.
All over Istanbul there were old Hamam's (Turkish baths), mosques, remnants of Byzantine city walls, fantastic wooden palaces and parks, pavilions, side walks the size of dachshunds, and stalls selling assorted Turkish fast food. Of which I loved the most the Simit (the skinny bagel-shaped breads covered in toasted sesame seeds), Lokma Tatlisi (sweet, deep fried doughnuts smothered in syrup, cinnamon and ground pistachio), and the Balik Ekmek (fresh grilled fish sandwiches with onion).
They also had stalls all over selling grilled or boiled sweetcorn, roasted chestnuts and their famous "stretchy" icecream, Dondurma. Of which the latter the Turkish eat a staggering 2,8 litres each a year! This strange icecream is made of a product derived from orchids called "salep" and also arabic gum ("mastic" - not the same as gum arabic!), which is why it is so stretchy. I thought it was quite nice, but as with all other Turkish desserts it is intensely sweet. I wonder what they think of our desserts.
|Detail from a door inside the harem|
|Detail from one of the harem windows.|
We also saw the Blue Mosque which wasn't really as impressive as I'd expected. First of all it wasn't nearly blue enough, and though the grand dome and the intricate iznik tiles were very splendid indeed - the spectacular mosque seemed somewhat smaller on the inside because of the low wrought iron chandeliers that hung low above the floor. But now I've been there and at least that's one more thing checked off my list!
We did spend hours traversing the Grand Bazaar which is one of the largest indoor markets in the world. They mostly sold a lot of junk to be honest, we did buy Turkish tea, teacups and a gunmetal hookah that is quite awesome if I may say so myself. I also got a longer gold chain for my opal necklace. The carpets and the jewellery was simply amazing and among the things that are definitely worth purchasing when in Turkey.
|Iskender kebab. Really nice!|
So the haggle culture was what I disliked the most, definitely - that and that it felt as if I couldn't trust anyone, they would take my tourist money without blinking if the situation allowed it.
Constantine's Pillar was really nice, and positioned quite near one of the Grand Bazaar entrances. Constantine himself had it brought over at around year 330 to mark the transfer of the seat of the Roman empire from Rome to Istanbul (Constantinople). He also supposedly buried some relics beneath the fantastical porphyry pillar, like the axe Noah used to build the Ark. Yay!
|The Bosporus strait|
|Hagia Sophia from a distance|
|The dome of the Hagia Sophia, if you enlarge it you can see the masked and unmasked angels - the faces were discovered earlier this year!|
The dome which is almost 60 metres above the floor took my breath away. It was created by some Greek architects that also decided that the centre of the earth was within the church, slightly to the right in the main hall. It was seriously huge. From the outside it looked like a city all in itself, and it still holds many uncovered secrets as a lot of the original mosaics are still plastered up. It was built with a lot of stolen goods from plundered pagan temples such as some incredible Hellenistic porphyry columns. You see the Byzantine were incredible at recycling. It was the most amazing thing we visited that didn't include food on this trip!
|Hagia Sophia seen from the side|
So yes. I don't think I could've made that any more informative and dry. Sorry. But it's all true what happened. And I am thoroughly fascinated, so forgive me. I am guessing it is TLDR anyway.
|Sunset over Istanbul.|
Thanks for a fantastic trip everyone!