June 27, 2015
Istanbul in 48 Hours
I have a confession to make. My house is a mess! Two and a half years of shuttling back and forth overseas, and now recently moving back home, has taken its toll. Frankly, it has left my usually tidy abode in a state of disarray, and finds me transfixed in a sea of overwhelmedness (Yes, that IS a word. I just made it up. :o))
More on our move home, life abroad, etc. in a future post,
or as the Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch would say,
“All in good time my little pretty, all in good time.”
For now, I will crawl into the relative safety of my, somewhat organized, blogging world. (In other words, I choose to procrastinate.), and regale you with a tale of our recent Istanbul adventure, far from the disorder that currently surrounds me.
And of course, with an iced tea in hand. :o)
Istanbul Ataturk Airport
Istanbul, the Ataturk Airport that is, has become a familiar layover stop for Dale and myself over the past few years. I am not just sure how many times we were there, coming from overseas, or going home, every few months, but we know it well.
Dale and I, on one of our numerous overseas flights that took us
Each time, we would peer out our plane’s window at the city’s impressive urban expanse, populated by over 14 million citizens. Each time we would insist that on one of our overseas transits, that we would actually step outside of the airport’s confines to explore the City by the Bosphorus, where part of Istanbul lies in Europe and part of it in Asia.
(Just this last month, Turkish Airlines began to offer international passengers a free service, during layover time, where quick tours of the city are provided.
Click here to read more.)
Looking out of my airplane window at the vast city of Istanbul,
just prior to landing.
May 29, 2015
Enjoying a Turkish Sesame Bagel, crisp on the outside
and soft on the inside,at the Turkish Airline Lounge in Istanbul.
May 18, 2015
This Turkish Lounge chef prepares delicious Turkish Pizza, or pita.
I believe that it is also sometimes called Lahmacun.
The staff kindly gave me this recipe, written in Turkish.
Here is the Google-translated result :
Vegetable Pita Recipe
2 eggplants, 2 zucchini, 1 red 1 yellow pepper them fat brown for thyme and salt mixed cooled parsley are mixed
pita dough in 1 kg flour 20 g salt 20 g yeast 20 g sugar
pita dough is kneaded with half a liter of water
after the presentations are made with basil pesto.
Istanbul (not Constantinople)…la la la…
To be honest, except for the catchy 1953 tune Istanbul (not Constantinople)
by The Four Lads (much before my time, of course), I knew very little about this vibrant Turkish city of Istanbul. (In 1930, Constantinople officially was renamed Istanbul, which is what this silly song is about.)
After two fun-filled days, however, I now have an appreciation for some of what beautiful Istanbul has to offer.
Dale and I enjoy the view from Topkapi Palace.
To listen to the hit Istanbul (not Constantinople), click here.
Thanks to the recommendations of several friends, who had been to Istanbul before us, and a kind Turkish passenger who Dale befriended on a previous plane trip, we were well informed on lodging options and things to see here. (Thank you! You know who you are. :o)) Dale and I opted for the wonderful Four Seasons Hotel, Istanbul at Sultanahmet, celebrating our return home. It was the perfect choice, and also the perfect location, within walking distance to the Istanbul sights that we looked forward to seeing.
Please join me on a brief photo tour of our trip, touching upon the highlights of our Istanbul experience.
The Blue Mosque
First on our list of Istanbul sights to visit, was the Blue Mosque with its six minarets (towers). We visited this landmark twice. Visitors of all faiths are welcome to enter here, even during prayer times. All are asked to remove their shoes, and scarves are provided for women visitors. (I brought my own socks and scarf.)
The Blue Mosque, so named for the blue tiles within,
is a famous Istanbul landmark.
Built in the 1600’s, the Blue Mosque has over 200 stained glass windows,
and its interior is lined with more than 20,000 tiles.
I explore the architecture of the massive Blue Mosque,
being mindful that my hair and shoulders are covered.
Built in the 6th century, The Basilica Cistern, once provided water for Istanbul. This underground locale was also one of several Istanbul locations in the 1963, James Bond film, From Russia with Love, starring Sean Connery.
I visit Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern, just like in a James Bond film, in July 2015.
For more Istanbul locations featured in
To Russia with Love, check out this post.
Constructed from 532-537 (In other words, this museum is very old!) the Hagia Sophia served as a Greek Orthodox cathedral, and later a Roman Catholic cathedral.In 1453, the Ottoman Turks overtook Constantinople and converted the cathedral into a mosque.
In 1935, Hagia Sophia became a museum of the Republic of Turkey.
I stand outside of the Hagia Sophia.
The mosaics on the walls of the Hagia Sophia glitter with gold,
well actually they glitter with gold leaf called tessera.
Dale and I enjoyed a leisurely and inexpensive hour and a half cruise on the
It was a beautiful day for a cruise.
Taskim Square Area
Dale and I found the Taskim Square area bustling and energetic.
Monument of the Republic sits in Taskim Square.
This photo of Dale and me in front of Galata Tower was taken by an Iowa teenager walking by, who was visiting Istanbul with his family!
( I grew up in Iowa!)
Hippodrome of Constantinople
Just outside of the Blue Mosque sits the Hippodrome area.
This was once Constantinople’s sporting area for events, such as horse and chariot races.
The Obelisk of Theodosius was built in the 1400’s BC. and was moved to Constantinople in the 300’s AD. It was originally taller than it is now.
The pedestal depicts an emperor giving a laurel wreath to the winner of a game. This base was discovered buried in dirt in the 1890’s.
It had been buried over time .
For a good write-up about the Hippodrome, read this blog post.
I first became aware of the Topkapi Palace and it’s “crown jewel” via the 1964 movie, Topkapi. Although, I am not a big fan of the film, I became mesmorized by the Topkapi Dagger featured in the movie.
Topkapi takes place in Istanbul.
Originally released by United Artists, it is now available on dvd, and is occasionally shown on Turner Classic Movies.
The Emerald encrusted dagger is the star of this film.
I stand at the grand entrance of the Topkapi Palace Museum,
from the 1400’s to 1856, the royal residence to the sultans.
Stepping inside, the Topkapi Palace doorway frames the Blue Mosque.
The ornate tile work was evident throughout the Sultan’s Harem section of the Topkapi Palace.
To hear a brief description of life in the harem at the palace, click here.
Overlooking the Bosphorus, the Topkapi Palace has spectacular views of Istanbul.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum
With just hours to spare before heading to the airport for home,
Dale and I took a quick run through the
Istanbul Archaeological Museum. There are some really old things there!
“Catering” to its tourist industry, Istanbul had plenty of places to shop and dine (catering-dining, get the pun? :o))
The Grand Bazaar
In all honesty, Dale and I found this famed tourist destination less than stellar.
After a quick 20 minute look-around, we were looking for the exit.
The Grand Bazaar had the feel of a giant flee market.
Dale and I stroll the historic Grand Bazaar .
We found the spices and tea for sale interesting, especially the one in the lower left corner.
One, of the two, lovely wool Kilim Turkish rugs that we purchased from Herke Hali in Istanbul.
In Istanbul, beware of “friendly” strangers who approach you!
We had a rug salesman begin following us around
and then invite us into his rug shop for tea.
We did look in his shop, but did not buy anything.
Dale and I went back to our hotel concierge and asked for a recommendation for a reputable Turkish rug dealer. The hotel uses and highly recommends
We bought two rugs from Herke Hali for the same price that the first merchant was asking for just one rug.
I sit with two employees of Herke Hali after purchasing our rugs.
Another recommendation by our hotel concierge was for reputable pottery (some pottery is machine reproduced, yet passed off as handmade) at
I got these fun little bowls.
Not all pottery is safe for food, so I was happy to find these.
They are even dishwasher (but not microwave) safe!
I love jewelry, and I often buy jewelry as a souvinier from where I have been. I found this cute little jewelry shop in the Galata/Taskim Square area of Istanbul. I bought a wonderful and unique pair of earrings there, and upon purchasing them, I found out that the owner of the shop, was also the designer and creator of my souvinier!
Here is just a sampling of some of the delicious food that we ate in Istanbul.
The Turkish Ice Cream, or Dondurma, differs from American ice cream.
It is thicker and melts more slowly due to the thickening agent made from orchid root.
Doner, a yummy grilled meat wrapped in flat bread.
Pistachio filled pastries!
Black, my favorite (shown above), and a lightly colored and lightly flavored apple, always served in a tulip-shaped glass.
To hear more about Istanbul,check out this video, Rick Steves’ Europe.
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This beautiful flower arrangement greeted us, and bid us farewell,
at the entrance of our Istanbul hotel.