We went during Ramadan, so the place was pretty festive. I thought Istanbul was really cool. I decided that visiting Istanbul was like going to a Muslim Disneyland! Why would I say this? It's because there were a lot of lines to go to the attractions (mosques), families were milling around, they had little carts that were selling food all around (corn on the cob was the most interesting to me), shops, tickets into the attractions that were like unto fast passes, and even light shows!
Here are some of the photos.
This is the Hagia Sophia. It was originally a Greek Orthodox Christian Basilica, but then it was converted into an Ottoman mosque.
It is so interesting because you can tell and see the Christian roots inside, as well as the conversion to the mosque.
Inside it, as well, they have the spot where the Byzantine Emperors were coronated.
Here is the Blue Mosque.
It was beautiful inside.
Here's another mosque that was pretty cool. I can't remember what this one was called, though.
The Blue Mosque is by Sultanahmet Square, where there was a suicide bombing earlier this year that killed 13 tourists. It's really sad, and I think it's terrible that people are willing to commit such terrible acts to try to manipulate people into a political position. Here is the Obelisk of Theodosius. It's in that square. The square used to be a Hippodrome (sporting arena) when Istanbul was Constantinople. It was originally built by the Temple of Karnak, which I saw on my previous trip to Egypt.
There's also a walled obelisk there. I think this is it.
This is the Serpent Column. It was a bronze pillar that was also at the Hippodrome. Back then it had a serpent head.
Also around that same area was a park and a fountain. Like mentioned before, we were there during Ramadan, and one night they had some festivities going on there. It was packed with people. The night life around Sultanahmet Square was pretty and festive.
This one reminded me of the grass areas at Disneyland.
Maybe the Blue Mosque is like the castles at Disneyland?
And these are like the light and water shows?
And here are some shops.
I love the Christmas lights!
We also happened upon the Basilica Cistern. It was pretty cool. There were fish in it.
And Medusa's head holding up some pillars.
This cistern was in the Bond movie "From Russia with Love." I'm sure you wanted to know that.
Not too far from the cistern was Topkapi Palace. We saw part of it, and the part we saw was pretty awesome. I loved all of the mosaics. They were so cool
And then we hung out in a park for a bit. We walked so much, and I got tired sometimes. Here were some bridges. I love bridges!
One of the most famous places in Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar. Some guy... I can't remember if it was like the guy at the front desk of the hotel or one of our waiters asked Roxanne and me if we wanted to go to his house for one of the Ramadan meals. We said no because we wanted to go to bed so we could go to the bazaar in the morning. Well, duh... since it was Ramadan, pretty much almost every place was closed the day that we tried, including the bazaar. This is the closed bazaar. Sadness.
It's okay, though! We went a couple of other days and times! This is what it looks like normally.
We walked up and down the streets so much. This is what I saw pretty much every day.
One time I was walking by with Roxanne and her dad, and one of the merchants basically wanted to buy me off of them because I guess he thought they were my parents. It was likely some kind of foolish flattery to get our attention so we would buy stuff from the guy, but it really backfired because it offended Roxanne because seriously, she is not married to her dad, and she is definitely not old enough to be my mom!
Oh! The food! I thought the food was super good! This was my favorite. They were some kind of dumplings/pasta with a yogurty sauce or something. Delicious!
And here are the chips that I always try to check out for the flavors! I know I tried some, but I can't remember what the flavors were. There was probably some kind of yogurt herb one. Maybe kind of like tzatziki but not. Or maybe a kebab. The actual kebab we had was super delicious.
And McDonalds had a McTurco, which is a flatbread sandwich. They also had a walk-through window outside on the street, instead of a drive-through window. I got ice cream from there regularly. Or the Burger King one. They both had delicious ice cream, and I got hot walking so much. Whenever I'd buy one it seemed to start a cascade of people getting the cones. They should have paid me for doing such a great job of advertising their ice cream everyday.
But my favorite thing about Burger King is that they delivered. We totally ate at the one by the airport on our layover through Istanbul on the way home, and there were dudes on bikes that would take and deliver the burger orders. I was like, AWESOME!
One thing that was interesting about when we were eating is that sometimes old artifacts were all around us, even while we were eating!
They have so many artifacts, they have no idea what to do with them. We even saw a bunch just chilling down an alleyway at the side of a building, like people didn't know what on earth to do with this garbage. I wanted to volunteer to bring some of it back to the states. I'm sure I could find a museum in the U.S. that wouldn't mind an exhibit like that. Basically, we saw oodles of this type of stuff on the trip.
I should say that one of my most favorite places I went to was the Great Palace Mosaic Museum. It was pretty awesome. It just had a bunch of stuff like this, but I really liked it.
Oh, I forget. We went on a few tours. We went on a water tour where we were able to see things like this and a lot of the houses on the shore. I'm sure notable people lived in them, but let's be honest. I didn't care who lived in those houses.
We were also able to go to on a bus tour that went from the Europe part of the city into the Asia part of the city. That was cool. It made it so I've been to five continents with Roxanne, which I think is pretty cool. We also went by Taksim Square where there were a bunch of protests at the time. It seems like there's always some kind of political turmoil whenever I travel. It makes the travel difficult. I felt happy that I was just on a bus, but we saw people being put into police vans or something. I'm starting to feel like my travel plans are cursed. I think this was Taksim Square, anyway. The protestors are not pictured.
And finally we went up a hill and got to take a fantastic photo of part of Istanbul at sunset.
It was beautiful. The trip was fantastic. I hope that Turkey can become a bit safer and more politically secure so tourists can feel more comfortable there. It was a great stop on the trip!