From early morning until late at night, Istanbul offers breathtaking views! As the last of four incredible days in Istanbul winds down, we are still in awe of this amazing place! An assault, in the best way possible, on all five senses, Istanbul will leave an imprint on our hearts for a long time to come. We will try to share a bit of what we experienced here, with strong recommendations to come and experience it for yourself!
Home to some 3,000 mosques, we had the chance to enter only three: the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Rustem Pasha Mosque.
Istanbul is a shopper’s paradise. Bazaars of all types and sizes offer everything from sweets to carpets to jewelry. The bazaars are also popular meeting places for a talk, a smoke, and a cup of thick, rich Turkish coffee.
Topkapi Palace was the Imperial residence of the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Amid the lovely courtyards with towering cypress trees and lush gardens, visitors can imagine what life might have been like during this time.
A poet once described the Bosphorus Strait as “God’s beautiful calligraphy written by an ink made of sapphires.” The strait provides part of the continental boundary between Asia and Europe and divides Istanbul into Anatolia and Thrace. An important international trade route, it also connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. We enjoyed a cruise along the strait as well as a ferry ride from Besiktas Pier on the European side to Kadikoy on the Asian side. Views on both rides were spectacular!
We can’t say enough about the food! From street vendors selling grilled corn on the cob, roasted chestnuts, and the ubiquitous simit (yummy round sesame bread) to fresh seafood, grilled kebabs, and the fresh fruits, nuts, cheeses, and vegetables in abundance at the bazaars, we found the food in Istanbul to be satisfying and delicious.
But it was the culture in Istanbul that we found most appealing. Although Turkey is 95% Muslim, 3% Christian, and 2% Jewish, we were told that religious freedom and tolerance is the norm. The call to prayer 5 times a day is a reminder of a greater good. And we were told that getting together for a coffee in Turkey can last 2-3 hours. Friends gather before and after prayer, and people seem to greet one another with genuine hospitality. These lovely friends pretty much sum up our views of the people of Turkey…old friends taking time for genuine conversation. We liked that!
At our ages, it’s not likely that we’ll have the opportunity to return to Istanbul, but we’re delighted we had four truly enjoyable days there!
We're a "timeless" retired couple who are grateful for every opportunity to experience life as long and as fully as we can! Time with our family and dear friends means everything to us, and although we love our time on two or four wheels, on the rails, in the air, or at sea, we're happiest when we're spending time with those we love the most. So this blog will reflect some of the timeless moments in our life, and we hope you'll enjoy spending some time with us.
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