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NNs Adventures We have traveled over the years but will be retiring in 2017 and want to spend more time traveling the world. We've been to Turkey, Sri Lanka, Africa twice and a number of trips to Europe and St Lucia. Kathleen/Thom Ennen

Day 1 - Istanbul

TURKEY | Thursday, 12 November 2015 | Views [219]

Well, Day 1 in Istanbul. It’s nearly 10:30pm and it’s been a long day. So long that we got back to the flat and were too beat to go out for dinner. Thom went to a neighborhood place for a few things, stuffed eggplant, stuffed peppers and an onion thing, I guess, with a bit of salad. We basically threw it all together and it was really good. Lunch was similar – it was near the spice market and I think we found the most crowded with locals place, even at 2pm. We had no idea what we were picking, other than the stuffed grape leaves, and it was really good!! some chicken and some meat pieces with eggplant and potatoes.  Haven’t yet had the infamous kabops but will at some point.

 The morning started with Turkish coffee at the flat https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5836670  then a walk down the hill to the tram to Sultanahmet. We went to the Blue Mosque but it was closed for prayer so we walked around toward the water. We saw the many freighters and large ships waiting to queue up into the Bosporus or pick up freight. We wandered some more, along the Hippodrome, and got back to the Blue Mosque for the 12:45 opening. What a tremendous place. We had to remove our shoes and carry them in a plastic bag and I had to wear my scarf. It was still impressive to see something with such history.

 We then walked across to the much older, former church, then mosque, the Hagia Sophia, now a museum, for which our all Turkey musekart let us in. It is the 4th largest cathedral in the world and was first built in 360AD and burned down twice. It turned into a museum in 1935.

One thing to note – we were constantly being accosted by hawkers, trying to befriend us and sell us carpets. Thom felt saying nothing and walking away was the best approach. I found saying hello, chatting about where from and then when they asked, say we had no interest in carpets, then we didn’t need any, then we didn’t want any, etc. they would be done and walk away.

 We then walked across the street to the Basilica Cisterns. Very impressive!!! Underground water storage from 532. It is 132 m length, by 65m wide. There are 336 columns in the cistern. It’s now not used to store water, but if it was actually as deep as the columns are tall, it would be an enormous amount. The water used to come from a forest 19KM north of Istanbul by aqueduct, and the walls are 4’ thick of fireproofed brick coated to resist the corrosiveness of the water.

 After the cisterns we walked back to the Sultanahmet tram station and went down to the Eminonu and walked inward towards the spice market. We didn’t really know where it was and it was time to find some lunch, even though it was around 2.  We found our way into a busier spot and saw what looked to be an entrance to the bazaar. We went into a nearby restaurant for some good eats, though we had no idea what it was!!! It was chicken and meat things but the name was beyond us! We then went into the spice bazaar and its rich and nearly overwhelming wares. We quickly found a stall and purchased some amazingly good looking saffron as well as some pungent slightly weird paprika paste. Very rich… I decided it was time to try the baklava, and got a piece of chocolate/pistachio. Very nice…. It’s good I didn’t buy more.

 As we moved farther along, at a slow shuffle pace, we came to place were the bazaar turned away and across the street was a shop selling coffee. The line was probably 4-5 minutes long and they were cranking out bags and bags of fresh ground Turkish coffee. You could smell it about 30 yards away!!! We got in line and got 500mg for about $7. Nice to have to start the day….

 We then walked along the last leg of the bazaar and encountered the cheese and fresh fish stalls. It was nice to see the fresh fish. We haven’t had any yet but are now beginning to seek it out. The fish were all pretty small, maybe sardines, and small mackerel. We’re intending to eat out this trip so have no interest in buying and cooking any. We’ll see how that goes!!!

 We then proceeded to walk back to the flat. The walk along the underneath part of the Galata bridge identified the many restaurants in that area. Including the fish boats where the food is cooked on the boat, and served on land, next to the boat. We finally bought some roasted chestnuts!  There are vendors every 30-50’ roasting chestnut everywhere. The smell is warm and rich and we got a bag of 300mg for a bit under $7. We also know where to come back to for the fish sandwiches at the Galata bridge!!! We continued on and ended up climbing up hill to Iskatel Street which was extremely crowded. You could barely walk. We pushed on and ended up at Taksim Square before turning downhill to get back to the flat.

 It was a long 21,000+ step day so the feets were tired. It was time to refresh, have a cocktail, and decided some takeout would be better. So we had a nice supper at home, and then off to bed.

 Tomorrow is the ferry to the Princes Island.


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