Blogs from Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Marmara, Turkey, Middle East


Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet October 5th 2015

Where to start? Our days are so full and so exciting, we look back at what we did a week or two ago and it seems like that was months or years ago! Here I am, sitting on the terrace of our hotel in Istanbul, we are leaving Istanbul, and Turkey, this afternoon. What a wonderful place. It is hard to summarize all the things we did over the last few days. 3-4 days don't do justice to such a place, but at least we managed to see or experience some of the "essentials": -Aya Sofia -The blue Mosque -Topkapi palace -Turkish tea on the rooftop of a hotel overlooking the whole city -Eating too much baklava and Turkish delight -Shopping at the Old Bazar -Visiting the Spice market -Getting ripped off by a cab driver ... read more
Whirling dervishes
Enjoying Turkish coffee
Istanbul at night

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet August 27th 2015

Legend has it the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was in his garden one day. Unbeknownst to him, a deadly snake slithered into his presence. The serpent was poised to strike the prophet when it was pounced upon by a cat, thus saving the Prophet from a painful death. Muhammad stroked the cat’s head in gratitude, and it is said that the stripes that some cats have on their heads is the mark of the Prophet’s fingers. Now, I don’t know if this story is true, but I rather like it, even if I am more of a dog person. There are a number of hadith (collection of quotes purporting to be from Muhammad) that refer to cats, such as “A good deed done to an animal is as meritorious as a good ... read more
bookstore cats
car cat
eating cat

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet July 28th 2015

I had visited the big three of Istanbul: the Blue Mosque, the Aya Sofia, and Topkapi Palace, experiences and pictures that I am still processing. But today was to be a day of smaller, quieter experiences. I walk past the Basilica Cistern everyday on my way to the tram. This morning there was hardly any line, so I decided to visit. The Basilica Cistern does not accept the Istanbul Museum Pass, nor does it take credit cards. The entrance fee is TYL 20, and if there are big cruise ships in town the lines can get very long. I was rather let down. I’m not sure what, exactly, I was expecting, but the Basilica Cistern is basically just an underground storage tank. Yes, to my eyes it is a marvel of engineering, and yes, the Medusa ... read more
Medusa head 2
vaulted ceiling
Percemli Sokuk

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet July 26th 2015

Before I came to Istanbul I practiced saying no. “No, thank you.” “No, I’m just looking.” “No, I’m not interested.”“No, it’s too expensive.” “No, stop it.” “NO!” I learned to say no in Turkish as well as English. So how come I ended up in a rug shop drinking tea? I’m an early riser, and I like to get out and about. My first full day in Istanbul I just wanted to walk around and get my bearings before it got too hot and there were too many people around. I was in Sultanahmet Square headed to the Information Center. The bad part of that is that as a single woman who was obviously a visitor, I was a target for every carpet salesman in town. And since there aren’t a lot of tourists around yet, ... read more
carpets in Grand Bazaar
more carpets in Grand Bazaar

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet July 21st 2015

Taksim Square doesn’t have quite the name recognition that the other T Squares – Tahrir and Tiananmen – have, but it still holds an important place in Istanbul’s history, and I wanted to see it. I start by walking across the Galata Bridge. This runs across the Golden Horn from the Eminonu neighborhood to Karakoy. You can walk along the top side, which gives you a nice view of the city, or you can walk through the lower level, past the people fishing from the bridge, and the restaurants that will (presumably) serve their catch. Once on the Karakoy side I switch to the funicular. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of a funicular, I think of railways like the one seen in the movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and I have ... read more
Wall  art
Galata Bridge
Public Transport - Funicular style

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet June 9th 2015

Lauantai 6.6. Istanbul Lento meni hyvin lukuunottamatta puolituntista, jonka aikana kaikki räjähti käsiin. Just kun ruokakärry oli kohdalla, A alkoi huutaa täysillä, L:n piti päästä vessaan, tarjottimet liukui syliin, ruokailuvälineet lattialle, vedet penkille, mikään ei toiminut tai sujunut. Ja kuin taikaiskusta kaikki oli taas hyvin kun tarjottimet kerättiin. Pitäis varmaan suosiolla luopua koneruokailuista, mikä ei olis hirveä menetys. Meitä oli vastassa kuski nimikyltin kanssa, helpottavaa. Auto kiemurteli pikkukatuja, kunnes kääntyi ihan mahdottomasta kulmasta parikerroksisen puutalon eteen. Vastaan tuli yltiöystävällinen hotellinpitäjä, joka hymyili korvasta korvaan ja hoki tervetuloa. Tultiin ekaan kerrokseen, josta paljastui olohuone pikkukeittiöllä ja makuuhuone. A:lle oli matkasänky ja sen päällä vaipanvaihtoteline, L:lle oli tehty sä... read more
Kenkiä, paljon kenkiä

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet April 22nd 2015

The next day the weather changed with heavy rain and the temperature dropped to 6 degrees. Between the rain I visited the Topkapi palace including the Harem section it was an interesting place, it really was a real golden cage. Then on to the Archaeological museum next door to see it’s collection of Hittites and Babylonian artefacts. There were impressive tulip displays all over Istanbul, while the original Tulip plants were natives of Turkey, these were all Dutch hybrid tulips that are more impressive and easier to grow in mass. In the afternoon I visited the military museum it had a special display about Gallipoli campaign plus its normal display about the conquest of Constantinople, together with a collection of armour, swords, bows, shields and firearms . The next day I visited the mosaic museum which ... read more
Blue Mosque

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet March 6th 2015

The beauty of living in Europe: An easy flight to Istanbul. Student-led conferences in the am buses to Minsk airport Belavia (Belarus national airline) one hour to Kiev, Ukraine Ukranian International Airlines two hours to Istanbul; arrive at 11 pm light rail & short walk past Blue Mosque & Hagia Sofia to Romantic Hotel (6 rooms) The hotel has a beautiful breakfast terrace on top of the hotel overlooking the Sea of Marmar Besides the amazing view, there is a Turkish breakfast spread of tomatoes, cucumbers, yogurt, olives, sesame bread rings, hard boiled eggs, dried figs and apricots, raisins, walnuts… a filling start to the day. Our tour guide meets us for a half day touring of… hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Roman underground cistern & Grand Bazaar, rug shopping (tempted by a $2,000 3 ft ... read more
"Istanbul" captured in a photo
old meets new

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet January 3rd 2015

Woolly says – Pulling the curtains aside the weather seemed to be getting brighter, it still felt bitter so having added a further two layers to my current five I decided to brave the Siberian temperatures for the day. First stop breakfast at my favourite city hangout…… Alice’s. I’m beginning to think that he will be moving into the place at this rate, although it might cut down on the food bill! It was still to bitter to want to venture through the streets so having checked that it was open a taxi was commandeered as we set off for the Rahmi Koc Museum. Woolly says – Even though it was only a few short months since my last visit I was keeping my paws crossed that this time I would be able to board the ... read more
Enjoying the Delights of Alice's
U Boat
All at sea

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet January 1st 2015

Woolly says – it was a late start to the morning and by the time I had put on every piece of clothing I had bought with me breakfast was finished, having discussed the need for food and sustenance we decided to find somewhere on our way and set ourselves up for the day. Turkish breakfast and cay dealt with and the view outside leaving us all shuddering at the thought of what the conditions were going to give us I suggested one of Woolly’s favourite places from our previous visit to Istanbul, the Rahmi Koc Museum. Woolly says – she does have a good idea sometimes and taking the view that a lot of the exhibits were inside it was meet with eager head nodding from our fellow travellers, it’s just a shame she hadn’t ... read more
Widow's Cage!
Felicity's Gate
Enterane to the Audience Hall

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