Wonders of Turkey – Part 1

This blog is entitled “Wonders of Turkey” – partly in reference to the name of the tour I just undertook with @TrafalgarSA but more so because Turkey is just a wondrous country filled with incredible wonders to explore.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

I have just returned from this incredible country which left me speechless at times. There is so much to awe you from it’s incredible history, to the once in a life time sights that you will never see anywhere else in the world.

Turkey is the only country that happily straddles two continents, Asia and Europe and it tells. Not quite Asian, not quite Europe but an eclectic and wondrous mix between the two. This makes Turkey a worthy and unique destination and one I have long since wanted to explore.

Wow, where do I begin…..

First we visited Topkapi Palace, the view from there shows perfectly the mighty Bosphorus dividing the continents between Asia and Europe.

Europe on the left, Asia on the right. View from Topkapi Palace,

Europe on the left, Asia on the right. View from Topkapi Palace,

Topkapi Palace itself is something to be marveled at. The grandeur of it is incredible, gold leaf and Mosaic painstakingly placed everywhere to create the most beautiful art.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

Domed Ceiling - Topkapi Palace

Domed Ceiling – Topkapi Palace

Just look at the designs!

Just look at the designs!

Golden ceiling, can you imagine the hours that took!?

Golden ceiling, can you imagine the hours that took!?

 

After Topkapi Palace I went to Hagia Sophia, first a church, then a mosque now a museum.

After the church was taken over and converted to a mosque the Christian symbols were covered up. Thankfully it was only covered up and not destroyed and now the government has commissioned the restoration of the Christian art to make it visible to visitors hence the scaffolding in the Hagia Sophia museum.

Hagia Sofya

Hagia Sophia

The sheer volume is incredible!

The sheer volume is incredible!

Hagia Sofya

Hagia Sophia

Uncovered Angels surround the dome

Uncovered Angels surround the dome

Partially uncovered Christian mosaic. Done with tiny tiles the size of your pinky nail. Incredible!

Partially uncovered Christian mosaic. Done with tiny tiles the size of your pinky nail. Incredible!

After vising the incredible museum of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace we came across this freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. Well known in Turkey and available almost everywhere. It is really quite tart and not everyone’s cup of tea, but it was cold and delicious and certainly helped on an incredibly hot day in Istanbul.

Freshly Squeezed Pomegranate juice. Yum!

Freshly Squeezed Pomegranate juice. Yum!

The next stop on a very full day in Istanbul was the famous Blue Mosque, so named for the incredible interior covered in blue ceramic tiles. Here you may not enter with your shoes and get given plastic bags to put them in. You also need to be appropriately dressed, long pants for guys and ladies need to have their legs, shoulders and heads covered at all times. This is after all a mosque and is used for prayers daily. Pull on pants, tops and head scarves are available to borrow at the entrance but know that thousands of other people may have used that head scarf before you. Your decision.

The interior of the incredible Blue Mosque

The interior of the incredible Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

 

Street scene in Istanbul

Street scene in Istanbul

We then took a visit to the frenetic Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It comprises of 61 streets and, reportedly, over 4500 shops. It’s hectic, chaotic and an absolute must do when in Istanbul. Beware shopaholics, you may spend your entire budget on the first day! The Spice Bazaar is quieter and nicer, in my opinion, but more of that in a later blog.

Apologies for the poor quality photo here but there is so much movement my camera cant focus. It’s just to give you an idea of the scale of it. It is extremely busy and every shop owner is trying to sale his wares. A polite “no” worked every time, so I’m not sure about the stories I heard of the shopkeepers being persistent to the extreme. May be different for ladies though I don’t know but I didn’t see anything untoward.

Grand Bazaar, 61 streets, 4500 shops!

Grand Bazaar, 61 streets, 4500 shops! Shoppers heaven!

 

Grand Bazaar entrance

Grand Bazaar entrance

The day was then capped off with a meal and a belly dancing show at a great restaurant in Istanbul. A fun night to end an absolutely incredible day in Istanbul and this was only day 1! Whew what a start!

Belly dancing moves. Great evening!

Belly dancing moves. Great evening!

I honestly did not consider the fact that this blog would need to be in separate parts and going on what I achieved today, it’s going to be many parts! I hope you’ll join me for the ride and my next blog, coming soon.

Istanbul is incredible, I doubt I’m done with this wonderful city.

I leave you, as always with some inspiration to make your own dreams come true.

“Change your location and you may just change yourself” – Eric Weiner

Till next time,

Cheers,

Wayne

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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