Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Istanbul or Constantinople?

Who cares what you call it, just go! Matt and I made the impulsive decision to travel to Istanbul for an impromptu long weekend. (And by last minute I mean we booked the flights and hotel at 2am and were at the airport at 9:30am!) This past Sunday was an Islamic holiday which serves to celebrate the Prophet Mohammad’s ascend into heaven. The religion follows a lunar calendar and therefore holidays and celebrations are not announced until about 24 hours in advance based on the sighting of the moon. Well be got lucky this time and Sunday was declared a National Holiday – remember we work a Sunday – Thursday week.

So we found a last minute combination of hotel points and airline miles that landed us in Istanbul 12 hours later!

It was a great weekend. I had no idea what to expect but was astonished to see how very Mediterranean the culture and climate was. Blue skies, crystal water, puffy clouds and trees, it was a winning combination from the start! The secular state was a stark (and welcome) contrast to living in the Gulf and the people really couldn't have been nicer.

We spend our days being the consummate tourists with visits to the old Topaki Palace where the sultans used to live, the Ayasofya which is the world’s largest cathedral, the famous Blue Mosque, and even haggling in the Grand Bazaar where Matt made a very special purchase – his wedding ring!

I would recommend a visit to this city to anyone. If fact we are already planning our next round as the 2 days went by too quickly. But don’t let me convince you, let the pictures do the boasting!

At the top of the Galata Tower built in 1348

At the park outside of the Ayasophia, the Blue Mosque is in the background

Inside the Blue MosqueOn the terrace at the Topaki Palace, it's the stuff of Arabian nights!Cruising down the BosphorusYeah, I'm the nerd that actually does the audio tours...The beautiful interior of the Blue MosqueWe had a suprise friend join us for lunch at the cafe!The Ayasofya, she is a beauty. The largest cathedral in the world. It was first a church and then a mosque. Ataturk got tired of the squabbing between the groups and made it a national monument for all to enjoy.

The cistern, now that is a beautiful plumbing system!

1 comment:

udjim said...

Either your photography just keeps getting better, or you keep finding even more fantastic places to visit. 'Planning to just relax and take in the view on your honeymoon? Yeah, right.