Blogging A-to-Z - 2BlueEyes - www.2BlueEyes.com

I: Istanbul, Turkey

Let’s take a journey to a place with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. Let’s take a journey to a place with two names. Have you guessed where?

Istanbul (not Constantinople)!

Istanbul, Turkey - 2BlueEyes blog

Ortakoy mosque on the Bosporus; Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul was the first place I studied abroad and it was quite the experience. It was, and still is, the largest city I’ve ever visited. Navigating your way through the streets of Istanbul is like trying to walk underwater while seaweed and kelp try to ensnare you. What do I mean by that? I mean that the sheer mass of people walking on the sidewalk, cars driving on the roads, metro line chugging through make getting from point A to point B an obstacle course. And, since I was staying in the historic section of the city, the vendors selling souvenirs to tourists were out in full force and their persistent attempts to call you over to check out their goods were further obstacles in getting around. I have to admit though that other parts of the city aren’t quite so overwhelming or filled with people but they are few and far between. Keep in mind Istanbul has the 6th largest population of any city in the world.

 

Istanbul - large map - 2BlueEyes

Istanbul is the red balloon. Zoomed out map with the Italian boot to the West, Syria and Lebanon to the South-East, and Ukraine and a glimpse of Russia to the North-East.

Istanbul - medium map - 2BlueEyes

Getting closer…..Athens, Greece is in the South-West, Bulgaria and the Black Sea to the North, and Istanbul is the red section just south of the Black Sea.

Istanbul - small map - 2BlueEyes

Zoomed in map of the Istanbul city limits. On the left side of the city is Europe and the right is Asia.

Despite any identity crisis Istanbul may have about its past or present history it is a sprawling and bustling modern metropolis home to about 14 million people from all walks of life. There are Muslims, Christians (Greek Orthodox, Armenian), Jews, and non-religious peoples. There are liberals and conservatives, Turks and foreigners.

Istanbul, Turkey - 2BlueEyes blog

Valens aqueduct, built in the late 400s C.E. by the Romans; Istanbul, Turkey

The city dates back to 660 B.C.E. and has been a political, economic, and cultural hub  for most of that time. To the south is the Sea of Marmara (passage to the Mediterranean) and to the north is the Black Sea. Two-thirds of the population live on the European side and the other third live on the Asian side.

 

It is a sensory overload. The smells of doner kebab and grilled corn, the sounds of honking horns and the call to prayer, the visual of a Roman aqueduct now being used as a lane divider on a highway make for an exhilarating experience.

A visit to the Grand Bazaar was an all day affair. The maze like corridors of the indoor and outdoor sections made the potential of getting lost more than likely. Istanbul, Turkey - 2BlueEyes blogWith my limited Turkish knowledge (the numbers 1-20) I tried my hand at haggling and came away with two sets of tea cups, multiple book marks, stationery sets, evil eye charms, apple tea, and spices. The exchange rate was in my favor when I visited and I took advantage of that!

The most amazing thing about the Grand Bazaar is that regular Istanbul citizens go there and shop. It isn’t a tourist trap masquerading as a market. Don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely stalls geared towards tourists. However, plenty of other stalls were selling children’s clothes, kitchen goods, and everything in between.

Istanbul, Turkey - 2BlueEyes blog

Inside the Grand Bazaar; Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey - 2BlueEyes blog

Spices; Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey - 2BlueEyes blog

Women’s coats; Istanbul, Turkey

Can we talk tea? Everyone in Istanbul drinks tea. It comes before your meals, after your meals, random times throughout the day. If it weren’t for the tulip shaped glass cups I would have thought I was in England. The Turks drink so. much. tea. And it’s delicious!

Istanbul, Turkey - 2BlueEyes blog

Apple tea; Istanbul, Turkey

 

Street Cat, Istanbul

Street Cat; Istanbul, Turkey

IMG_1517

Inside of the Hagia Sophia; Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey - 2BlueEyes blog

Inside of the Hagia Sophia; Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey - 2BlueEyes blog

Homes on the Bosporus; Istanbul, Turkey

I highly recommend you take a trip to Istanbul! I’m dying to go back and explore the rest of the country. Going for a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia is on my to-do list the next time I’m in Turkey!

P.S. Check out this cheeky song by the band “They Might Be Giants”:

 

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9 thoughts on “I: Istanbul, Turkey

  1. Abbie says:

    Hey! I am visiting from April A to Z 2016 — found your message on my post today. Super thanks for visiting me! I adore your theme and you’re on my faves list now. I’ve been to Istanbul and it is one of the most beautiful places. I fell in love with the mosques — I must go see Hagia Sophia though. I’m Muslim by faith so the mosques and the relics of the Ottoman Empire have a special significance. I live in Maryland and a the US and Turkish governments collaborated to construct a breathtakingly gorgeous cultural center here. The architecture is amazing! Do check it out — it is the Diyanet Center Of America — https://www.facebook.com/Diyanet-Center-of-America-516618905134844/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Halee Pagel says:

      Unfortunately, when I visited Hagia Sophia there was a lot of construction inside that obstructed my view. The building is gorgeous though! And so is the Diyanet Center. I’ve never been to the D.C. area but I’ll have to check it out whenever I go. Thanks for stopping by! Look forward to reading your blog 🙂

      Like

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