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Istanbul, not Constantinople

November 15, 2008

Wow, it’s been a while, but I’ll do my best to catch up.

At the end of October, Josh and I both had to go to Istanbul for a few days of training for work. We decided to stay through the weekend to see the city and celebrate my birthday. We left on a Tuesday evening and arrived back the next Monday morning.

We went to a very nice and traditional restaurant (Beyti) on Thursday night, but otherwise we didn’t get to see much of the city until the weekend.

We stayed in a very nice hotel on the Bosphorus Strait which runs between Europe and Asia. From the hotel’s main restaurant, we could watch the ships and barges have a huge traffic jam going through the straight. They were always backed up in there. The weather was gorgeous during the week. However, come Saturday morning, it was all overcast and raining.

While at the training, we met up with our friends Christina and Eric and their one-year-old son, Charles. They lived in Zurich when we moved here and we worked with Christina. They now live in Seattle but Christina helps run the global training programs, so we were able to meet up with them. It was great to catch up!

We roamed the city for a bit on Saturday morning before heading the the Grand Bizaar (Kapalı Çarşı). This is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It was so neat but incredibly crowded.

Then we made our way to the Spice Bazaar.

We also visited several mosques and churches. We went to the famous Hagia Sophia, or Aya Sofya or The Church of Holy Wisdom, which was first a basilica, then a mosque and now a museum.

The magnificent exterior:


The equally impressive interior:

Then we went across the street to the Blue Mosque also known as the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I.  It is a working mosque and there were people inside praying when we went in which I found a little awkward with all of the tourists walking around snapping pictures (myself not excluded, but I was very discreet). We took our shoes off and I was a little worried about them being stolen, but we were given plastic bags to put them in to carry.

Another stunning exterior:

Interesting interior:

We also were able to visit the Topkari Sarayi Palace – the home of the Ottoman sultans, the Byzantine Hippodrome, Yerebatan Saray Sarniçi – the Byzantine Cisterns as well as several other mosques and places of worship. I can’t believe we were able to do all of this considering that it was raining almost the whole time and the Istanbul Eurasia Marathon was going on. Lucky us!

Even though we heard mixed reviewed before going, we enjoyed it and definitely recommend it.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. munichbavaria permalink
    January 15, 2009 12:41 pm

    I’m so envious! I really want to get to Istanbul. It looks like you had a fantastic time and a very memorable way to celebrate your birthday.

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