Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 38 Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Gate 1 of Grand Bazaar
Grand Bazaar
St Sophia
Turkish Delight at Spice Market
Usually pictures speak louder than words but in this case they don't .......
For those that have been to Istanbul, how incredibly fortunate you are
and for those that haven't...put it on your "list" and make sure you
move St Sophia to the very top of your list.
Yes another new place that has me bedazzled......but what would be the
point in travelling if each new city made you go "ho hum, boring ". I
knew nothing about any of the places we saw today, I hadn't researched
them, heard of them or watched documentaries on them, so it was with
basically "virgin eyes" that we both experienced Istanbul.
The ship was scheduled (or actually rescheduled) to dock at 10am, but we
had made good time and actually docked by 8.30am, so we were off the
ship and on our way before any of the Princess Tours, as they weren't
leaving til after 10am. We were on a private tour with 10 other cruise
critic folks organised by Joanne, it was a fabulous tour with a great
guide, Khan. We were in a new minibus and the first stop was the Blue
Mosque, because it was early in the day there was hardly a queue and the
inside was not packed at all. This was the first Mosque I had been
inside and it was beautiful. As it was still early our guide decided
that the next stop should be the Grand Bazaar, this way we would beat
the crowds and he was correct. He gave us tips on bargaining and how to
behave and pointed out where each set of stalls/shops were. The Bazaar
was lovely , the shop keepers were polite but with the usual cheek and
salesmanship and it wasn't hot at all as we had managed to get another
unexpected perfect weather day. We sampled some Turkish Delight (real
stuff!) and bought a bit.....Katie also bought a beautiful Turkish Tea
set and bargained like a local for it :) Me, I would have paid full
price, which is why I have her with me to haggle.
Topkapi Palace Museum complex was next and we got to see the Treasury,
The Harem and the world's 7th largest diamond plus other treasures that
the last Sultan left behind. Some of the things were exquisite, it is
hard to imagine what treasures he took with him. The grounds and
buildings in the complex were very interesting too, and with having a
guide to explain everything just enriches the whole experience I have found.
Hagia Sophia was our next stop and forgive my ignorance but I knew zip
about it. Our guide took us in and spoke for a few mins in a side part,
he then told us to walk around the corner
and.........................omg! I actually choked up when I saw it,
obviously involuntary and unplanned, and I'm not actually sure where the
emotion came from. Needless to say, Katie and I just looked up and
around in awe. The Pyramids and Petra didn't have that first impression
impact like this did, maybe because I had seen them in pictures and
movies. (but as I haven't yet seen the Sistine Chapel, I'll reserve
judgement for another week or so, plus there's Athens and Rome and
Pompeii and all they have to show me to wow me some more). The photo
above doesn't do it justice and I hope I haven't built up your
expectations should you get the chance to see it.
How to top that, well you may not be able to but our next stop at the
Underground Cistern was pretty amazing as well. Sad to say that it was
too dark for our photos to show it clearly and without going into a
history lesson on the blog, a mighty impressive place. We still had time
for one more stop and this was at the Spice Market, which as well as
selling spices, sells other food and trinkets and stuff like the Grand
Bazaar (which we were told employs 30,000 people). More Turkish Delight
was sampled and bought, plus we sampled some cheese which was yummy.
And while I remember it, we have only encounted about 5 flies on the
whole trip, maybe in is so nice not to be waving your
hand in front of your face constantly :)
While we only had time to sample parts of the top sites to see, there is
so much more to explore in Istanbul and Turkey. The locals were friendly
that we encountered and the city was clean and I would highly recommend
a private tour with a guide, especially if you have never been before.
Tomorrow it is off to Anzac Cove at Gallipoli where we have a service at
Dawn and again at 10am before we set sail for Greece again.
Decided I am getting rather lazy with the posts, I am sure they were far
more entertaining about 25 days ago! Never mind, enjoy the photos
because we sure are enjoying the trip.
A few random thoughts.....
Our water in the shower has cooled down a bit to where we have to add
some hot. Though the tap water is still warm except for the first 2
seconds :-)
We seem to only dine in the MDR every 3rd night.
Katie hasn't needed any medication since we entered the Med for her sea
My cold lurgy is 99% gone today.......yay. I didn't need to stop and sit
every 5 mins like I did at Masada.
I haven't bought you all presents (yet)
We will be posting stuff home from Dover.....I don't have that much
luggage allowance!! It is actually the robes and stuff we got when we
did the Ultimate Ship tour, they weigh a ton, so think about that if you
intend doing the tour and have to fly anywhere after the cruise.
I miss my family back home, xxxx to them all (and yes the rest of you
too I suppose :-) !)

1 comment:

  1. Another great blog Hon. Our list of places to visit following your recommendations is growing ever longer. I had a similar experience to yours in the Haga Sofia when i was in Rome. It wasn't at the Sistine Chapel though. For me it was the Pantheon in Rome.
    We are missing you but so happy for you and want the rest of your trip to be full of fun and adventures. Have you download Viber yet so we can chat on your iPhone?