Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
I stood in the port of Istanbul for two days as part of my greece/turkey cruise. I have to say out of all the places i visited this one left one of the biggest impressions on me. The pure smell of the city, the colors and the sounds were very interesting. We were staying there during the month of ramadan so it was interesting to see how the city was occupied mostly of tourists in the day and to see all the locals come out at night. Immediately upon arrival i notice that istanbul or turkey in general where not at all what i had imagined. My western stereotypes of what women would dress like and how the locals would react was seriously skewed. Most women dressed normally not being veiled at all- those who chose to wore beautiful and bright hijabs.
While my time in Istanbul was brief i did get to participate in some local traditions. I found the turkish people to be generally helpful and happy to have tourist. My first experience was the Grand Bazaar and boy was it Grand! It was filled with stores of the same exact trinkets all for different prices. One had to learn how to bargain for me i was suprised to hear so many compliments. I knew of course this was part of a sales tactic but honestly i didnt care.
The second time i had an authentic experience was at the Hammam. I was a little hesistant at first. The idea of stripping naked and being scrubbed to death did not sound appealing. At first i step out in my little towel with my underwear underneath. The ladygave me a disapproving look and montioned to take my top off. I did hesistantly and then she montioned to bathe nearby a fountain. The place inside was spectacular like a hidden castle. The fountains and stonework was so beautiful to me. So after i wet myself she motioned me over to a large stone platform where she procedded to scrub me to death after lathering me with the softest thing i ever felt.
The third experience was Cafe Istanbul a hip hookah bar where the young turks hung out. Here everyone was smoking hookah not only men like i had seen in the states but women and teenagers. The plaza we went to was filled with hookah bars all next to each other and featuring outside seating in cushions. We got a round of apple tea the best on earth! It was so perfect and then we ordered our hookahs. Now im not a smoker i had only tried hookah one time before this and didnt appeal to me.
Well i cant forget to mention my experience at the sites Sultan Ahmed mosque or the blue mosque so nicknamed for its tiling was breathtaking much like the Hagia sophia.