To continue on from yesterday's post, some more notes from Istanbul:
- The Grand Bazaar, with over 4000 shops, is the epicenter of the city in many ways. You can buy anything here - from clothes to jewellery to spices to power tools - and rub elbows with locals and tourists. (Very little deodorant on sale - this would make the metro rides a little more bearable).
- Topkapi Palace is a sprawling collection of buildings that are now mostly a museum. Some incredible items here, including an 86-carat diamond, various sultans' clothing from 1000+ years ago, and other surprises, including a sudden and spectacular view of the sea that comes out of nowhere.
- Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque, and Sultanahmet are also impressive. Depending on the conquering forces at the time, Aya Sofia, from its origins in 360(!) has been a cathedral, a mosque, and a museum (as it is today). The sense of history and of just imagining the people and events that have occurred over 1600 years is pretty awe-inspiring.
- The Princes Islands are a decent day trip, with ferry rides to any number of them leaving all parts of the city. Just be prepared for masses of people, particularly at day's end (not for you claustrophobics). They are hilly, and without cars, so getting around by foot, bike or horse-drawn cart (and get ready to jump out of the way!) are the only way to navigate.
Overall, there's not a lot of witty or insightful stuff to say about Istanbul. Glad (and fortunate) to have seen it? Absolutely. Will I hurry back? Not likely. While it's a place that easily fills up the memory card on the camera, it doesn't do the same for the heart.
The view from Topkapi Palace