Tourist time

Istanbul Travel Blog

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Some old stone work outside Aya Sofya
Today was the touristy day.  After somewhat of a sleep in (which was much needed for the whole group) we gathered out front of the hotel ready for a walking tour of the city from our local guide.  We ventured into the Aya Sofya which was massive inside.  It began as a church in the 6th century, but was changed to a mosque in the 14th century by the Ottoman Turks.  Most of the Christian symbols were either removed, painted over or converted to Islamic symbols.  It is amazing that something so big was built so long ago and is still standing strong.

On our way to the Blue Mosque we passed two large free standing Obelisks.  Unfortunately Asterix or Dogmatix were nowhere to be seen :(  The Blue Mosque is still in use so we had to conform to the rules of no shoes and not exposing to much skin.
Inside Aya Sofya
  It seemed very random on who had to cover up but Bec was chosen to be wrapped up along with a number of other females on the tour.  We realised the reason for removing your shoes is because the whole place is carpetted which is cool as it was nice to walk around a bit without shoes on.  After taking some video footage and looking around we headed outside ready for our next stop.  On the way out we were offered tickets to paradise, and for only 50c we couldn't pass up such a bargain.

The next stop was a leather store - we were escorted into a small room where we were treated to a fashion show of leather jackets and pants that the store sold.  It was fun to watch, but it was also nice to take a seat for a while after walking and standing around for the last few hours.
  In order to get out of the shop we had to go past all the clothes - we took a look around but leather really isn't our thing so we left and waited outside like everyone else.  A short walk around the corner and we found ourselves at a rug place.  It was interesting to learn about the different threads, materials and quality on offer.  The amount of styles available was amazing and the sales people were quick to throw rug after rug on the ground in hope one of them might catch a buyers eye.  We held back with some others taking a closer look at a few rugs that we liked, however we couldn't picture it going with the house or there was something that just didn't drive us to buying it straight away.  Instead we purchased a small rug as a souvenir of the experience.
Jesus displaying how to do the shocker


This was the end of the guided walking tour for the day so we headed back to the hotel for some rest and wait for the river cruise.  The river cruise wasn't a good as we'd hoped due to the cold weather and high winds.  As soon as we jumped onboard the ship we headed into the indoor section and cracked a beer.  It wasn't long after we started cruising that the people who tried to brave the weather for the scenery began making their way inside for some warmth.  The spearker system onboard was rubbish so unfortunately we didn't get to hear much about the history of Turkey and some of the prominant buildings along the waters edge, but it was still nice enough just to sit back and relax with friends enjoying a laugh and drink.
Sky rockets in flight...
  We all managed to pick up a traditional hat for cheap after the cruise.  I think they started at 5 Lira before we boarded, but when we left they were 3 hats for 5.  So nearly everyone on our tour bus grabbed a hat and we all looked ridiculous together.

That night the tour group got together for a big TopDeck traditional turkish meal and entertainment.  The food was tasty enough, the band was pretty cool and the belly dancer was a laugh.  Everyone had a good time and lots of laughs.  After the meal quite a few mentioned going on to the Sah Bar for a few more drinks so Craig joined them while Bec and a few others headed around the corner to the hotel for an early (well it was midnight so not exactly early) night.  The Sah Bar was pretty much the same as the first night except there seemed to be more people and they were alot drunker.  After a couple of drinks a few of decided to call it a night and headed back to the hotel.
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Some old stone work outside Aya So…
Some old stone work outside Aya S…
Inside Aya Sofya
Inside Aya Sofya
Jesus displaying how to do the sho…
Jesus displaying how to do the sh…
Sky rockets in flight...
Sky rockets in flight...
They know how to build em big!
They know how to build 'em big!
Plenty of lovely garden beds throu…
Plenty of lovely garden beds thro…
Two obelisks
Two obelisks
Another very large mosque
Another very large mosque
Bec enjoying the complimentary app…
Bec enjoying the complimentary ap…
A bridge which joins the european …
A bridge which joins the european…
Team with their hats
Team with their hats
Bec is very happy she has a hat
Bec is very happy she has a hat
Our TopDeck tour buddies
Our TopDeck tour buddies
Guess they didnt use the spell ch…
Guess they didn't use the spell c…
Entree was a mixed bag
Entree was a mixed bag
Cheers! In the eyes!
Cheers! In the eyes!
I dont think youll find your key…
I don't think you'll find your ke…
Our friends on the tour
Our friends on the tour
Just a few more back at the Sah Bar
Just a few more back at the Sah Bar
Istanbul
photo by: Memo