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Published: April 6th 2016
Well, we survived a 24 hour travel day....got a few short naps in along the way, but it was so good to get into bed last night!
The whole trip went smoothly..all the connections worked...no problems with lines or wait times in any of the airports. British Airways from Seattle to London was a treat: great food and service. We had arranged an airport pick-up from the apartment owners, so getting here was easy too...
The host (part of the family who rents several apartments that they have remodeled for tourist stays; the company, which we highly recommend, is called Stay Istanbul) was welcoming and helpful. But the conversation took a sad turn when we asks about the effect of the terrorist attacks on business. He teared up and said they will have to give up some of the apartments they had remodeled, since tourists are down by 2/3, and the rates for the rooms that are left have halved....So, please think about coming here!
Our apartment is a block from Galata Tower and has views across the Golden Horn of the Blue Mosque. The neighborhood is very active, with narrow, steep streets and many small shops. Our
street is mostly guitar shops and electrical equipment and lighting. Around the corner are grocery stores, a bakery, and clothing and gift shops. We were concerned about noise at night, but it quieted down early in the evening and is still almost silent at dawn...
We got up before dawn today, and, after coffee, internet, and sunrise, walked across the Golden Horn on the Ataturk Bridge, to the old city and the Fatih Mosque and Wednesday market, located in one of the more conservative neighborhoods. The walk took us through very different neighborhoods, and past many gardens. After some time wandering around the market, we found a place to have a traditional breakfast, and then headed towards the better known historical sights.
We visited the Suleymaniye Mosque first, with its tombs and beautiful grounds and views. We then walked through the University area, and spent a short time in the Grand Bazaar, which is bigger than you can possibly imagine.... We were going to try get to the Hagia Sofia, but jet lag kicked in, so we only visited Constantine's Column, and then took the tram back to the Asian side, and then a cable car up the
very steep hill to our neighborhood. We walked down part of the street where the latest terror attack took place (It was again full of people, but with a visible police presence), and back home for a nap.
We have seen a few tourists, but no Americans. While the police are very visible (They were checking backpacks with metal detectors at the cable car entrance for example), there does not seem to be fear in the general population, and life appears to be continuing as usual. The only warning we've gotten is to avoid the restaurants around the Galata Tower, where people are drinking alcohol at tables on the sidewalks. Some fear this place could be a target...
Many women, but by no means all, wear headscarves. Even in the conservative areas, some women were dressed in Western style clothing. I only need a scarf to go into mosques. I've only seen one group where women were wearing dresses that did not cover their legs and that was on the cable car up to the shopping street. Other than at the Grand Bazaar, we've had no one soliciting our business, and almost everyone has been helpful and friendly
Built in the 6th century and used as a place to monitor shipping, prison, naval depot, and fire watch tower. It now houses a restaurant and night club... For us, it's the landmark we use to find our apartment!
when faced with our zero ability to speak Turkish (other than "Merhaba" which means hello...).
Tomorrow we move up to the studio on the top floor of this building. While the five flights of old marble stairs will not be fun, we hope the rooftop terrace makes up for the hike! We hope to visit the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque after the move is done.
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