Istanbul - domes and spires
Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 10 of 22 › view all entries
April 22nd, 2008 – by: jaxzhao
Istanbul is a fascinating city because of all the history centered around this almost legendary town - plus it's also the only city in the world straddling two continents. During the various phases of its history, this city has been known as Byzantium and Constantinople, and served as the capital of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire, and the Ottoman Empire.
Anyways, we arrived at the Sultanahmed Square shortly after lunchtime and the place was packed with tourists and tour buses. Fighting our way to the square, I was blown away by the sight of the Hagia Sofia on one side of the square and the Blue Mosque on the other - two of the world's most recognizeable buildings literally side by side.
Our hostel was only a very short walk away from the spire and the people were amazingly friendly. The Turkish guys definitely had no problems cracking jokes at their own expense. We got along fabulously! That same day we decided to just go out and explore on our own. Without a map to guide us or a set plan, we ended up walking through the park housing the Topkapi Palace (the place where the sultans used to live, now convered to a museum) without knowing it was there, and then walked along the waterfront to the New Mosque (new meaning it is less than a thousand years old I suppose) and the Spice Market.
On our way back, we had some amazing fresh pomegranate juice. One thing I loved about Istanbul was the sheer amount of street vendors out on every corner. Most were selling either corn on the cob (not recommended), the turkish breads (make sure to look for the ones carrying huge spirals of bread on their heads - much more fun taking it off there as opposed to buying from the carts), roasted chestnuts (never did get around the trying this), and stuffed mussels (must try - they make this by mixing rice, herbs, and mussels and then splashed with fresh lemon juice).
Rounded the evening out with some turkish ice cream, which was very interesting because it is super stretchy (almost like eating melted cheese) and I swear those things do not melt! At supper, our server, Nadim, actually turned out to be a fellow who spent like 7 years living in Edmonton. He used to live in the Chinatown and the Tin Pan Alley region, so almost like my neighbour!
Great start on the trip. We decided to tackle the Grand Bazaar the next day!
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!