Africa to Europe to Asia and back: Istanbul, Turkey.

Turkey Travel Blog

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Blue Mosque

After sitting on the runway for over an hour waiting for the food for our flight to arrive, we finally departed Cairo International and begin flying north to Istanbul.  Despite arriving an hour late, I was in and out of the airport really quickly, a complete contrast to the mayhem of the airport in Cairo. After buying a visa, getting the passport stamped, and grabbing my bag, I hopped on to the metro for a 30 minute ride into the city.
Blue Mosque


From the metro I boarded a tram and a few minutes later stepped onto the cobble stone streets of Sultanahmet. My jaw quickly dropped as the tram door opened because there in front of me stood the Blue Mosque, an impossibly large and beautiful example of Muslim architecture. And sitting almost directly in front of that? The Haggia Sophia, once the largest building in the world and still the commanding figure of old Istanbul.  Quite a spot!

After wandering around a bit I finally located the hostel, dropped the bags, and ate a pizza. Good. Then I set about exploring for the hour or so of daylight I had left. Such a massive contrast to the Middle East! It really was quite lovely.  This was my first taste of fall and it was nice to have temps under 30 degrees and a cool wind blowing in off the sea.
Hagia Sofia


Istanbul is so clean and orderly compared to Egypt or Jordan or India or most anywhere else I've been so far on this trip. I can't say it enough. After two months of dirt, dust, trash, and heat, this was like walking through a European paradise.

The next day I set about exploring a bit more and ended up making my way down a hill to the ferry docks. Istanbul is the only city in the world that is located on two continents, Europe and Asia. The area I was staying in, Sultanahmet, is on the European side so I was hoping to make It to the Asian side as well at some point. With no idea where any of the ferries were going, I decided to just go for it and hop on the next one leaving. I got lucky and ended up on a ferry that was going out across the Sea of Marmara to the Asian side.
Istanbul from a ferry
Woohoo, two continents in thirty minutes!  I got out and walked around for a bit before hopping aboard another ferry for the journey back. It was a fun way to spend two hours and for two bucks, I definitely can't complain about the price.

This morning an Australian guy called Jonno and I went back down to the docks to try and get aboard a boat that was going up the Bosphorus, the straight of water that connects the Sea of Marmara (and by extension, the Mediterranean) with the Black Sea. We found one that was doing a two hour tour so we settled in and spent a leisurely couple of hours cruising the Bosphorus. It was a pretty nice time. After that we hunted down some cheap eateries and I managed to find a place with some well priced souvenirs. I even bought a T shirt.
I'm hoping this one holds up a bit better than the two I bought in India that promptly turned my sink a dark blue when I submerged them in water. That was interesting.

I'm now writing this from a bus that I'm taking southwards to Ephesus, an ancient city that held the Temple of Artemis, one of the ancient wonders of the world. Ephesus is also mentioned in the Bible as one of the Seven Churches in Revelation. This is where Saul made frequent trips to as a Roman soldier to tax its inhabitants.  After converting to Christianity and changing his name to Paul, he eventually wrote a few letters to the citizens of Ephesus. Now that collection is known as the book of Ephesians. John also lived in Ephesus and reportedly wrote the book of Revelation here as well and there's a ruined church that bears his name.
Inside the Hagia Sofia
Oh, and lest I forget, Ephesus is supposedly the site where Mary spent her last years before dying, so there's a church over where her house once stood.  Connections, connections.

It turns out that Turkey is rife with historical sites (I should really get a guide book so I have a clue as to what's going on). Besides Istanbul (Constantinople) and Ephesus, there's also the ancient city of Troy, made famous in the epic battle with the Greeks in which the infamous Trojan horse was introduced into history. I'm not going there as there isn't a whole lot left to see, but I'm hoping Ephesus will satisfy the ruin exploration craving I currently have.

Have to see how it goes. Until then.
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Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Hagia Sofia
Hagia Sofia
Istanbul from a ferry
Istanbul from a ferry
Inside the Hagia Sofia
Inside the Hagia Sofia
Basilic Cistern
Basilic Cistern
Upside down Medusa head in the Bas…
Upside down Medusa head in the Ba…
From atop the hostel in Sultanahme…
From atop the hostel in Sultanahm…
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