Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bully for Istanbul

Istanbul is an amazing, dynamic city and staying here twice was a great way to bookend our time in Turkey. As an ancient city, there's no shortage of historical sites to visit, as well as just interesting buildings to admire as you're walking around. It's also got a very east-meets-west feel, so one moment you can be haggling over the price of some oranges in the market or watching old men fish from a bridge, and the next, you can walk into an air-conditioned western-style grocery store or buy some semi-automatic pistols at the metro station (only $75 Euros!). But somehow, it all seems to fit together seamlessly, and by the time we left, we felt quite at home and even had our regular haunts like a corner pide restaurant and an internet cafe.

Some definite highlights of Istanbul were:

  • Visiting the Aya Sofia, a gorgeous Byzantine church/ mosque/ museum built around 500 AD;
  • Visiting the enormous and beautiful Blue Mosque;
  • Taking a day trip on a ferry up the Bosphorous Straight to the Black Sea;
  • Walking (or shoving our way through on a Saturday) the narrow alleys of the Spice Bazaar;
  • Playing backgammon in tulip-filled Gulhare Park;
  • Trying to befriend the omnipresent street cats;
  • Finding a vegetarian restaurant;
  • Finding a dilapidated building in a maze of alleyways that seemed to house all the H & M clothing that Turkey doesn't export (all for $2, of course); and
  • Having absurd conversations with super friendly and funny shop keepers.

Perhaps the only "low-light" of Istanbul was Dennis' new facial hair. Since this is the last day for voting, I suppose the people have spoken and in your own misguided, fence-sitting way decided that the "Neville" shall continue. Disappointed.


1 comment:

matthew said...

I hope you picked me up a couple of sweet pistolis, I've been feeling a little bit less than manly lately and need an ego boost.