Flight from Dubai to Turkey without incident – 4 hours, 2 movies, 1 meal…… as very interesting to us to be flying over Bahrain, and we could see the land, houses etc. Peter said it was like watching a war movie.
Cherie (friend from NZ now living in Istanbul) was at the airport to “meet and greet” us – now known as “Cherry’s Tours” to us. Cherie has been just amazing and we feel like we are “acting” as locals (well as much as short term visitors can…….). We are staying in an apartment in a local suburb and it is great. Restaurants and cafes just 10 minutes walk and a small supermarket too! It is a 5 or so minute walk down to the tram to go in to the centre of town and all the main attractions – spice bazaar, the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, shops, the underground Cistern………
We arrived in Istanbul 6pm on a Friday and had a taxi ride to the apartment. The city has just finished a tulip celebration and the flowers are beautiful everywhere. Also there are blossom trees flowering etc. We all decided to go for a quiet drink and meal at one of the local cafes and it was great. Had the lentil soup and then a chicken salad. However one drink turned to two or three and we got home at 4am. A great start to the visit. The streets where we are staying are very narrow and all cobbled. The age of the buildings is quite something to us from a young country. this is Peter walking up one of the streets – sorry it is sideways. (I have learnt how to make the piustures the right way up but I had already loaded this one and it cant be changed)
Had a traditional Turkish breakfast at one of the local cafes. Yum! Plates of cheeses (my favourite called string cheese – looks like hairy string, tastes like a cross between haloumi and feta). We had also eggs with Turkish sausage, breads (served with every meal), a form of very thin pastry with melted cheese in the middle and a sweet thick clotted cream served with comb honey. YUM!!!!!!! But also I have fallen in love with the freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. Heaven in a glass!
Caught the tram in to the main part of the city and had a look around. So many old buildings, mosques and people!!!! We went to see a friend of Cherie’s who works in a jewellery shop in town and enjoyed sitting at a table on the street watching the people, traffic etc. It was directly outside of a hotel that is completely filled with hundreds of coloured Turkish lanterns. Very pretty.
We then went to the Basilica Cistern. Underground. Built by the Romans in 500’s to hold water for them. It is amazing. Such engineering of rock and building so long ago. This photo is a bit blurry as it was so dark there I had to use a slow shutter speed……….. and yes, it is still sideways!
We then wandered around and found a local watering hole for a drink. Sat outside once again “people watching” and enjoying the company of the owner. We have been so lucky with the weather – sunny and about early 20s every day.
Sunday today and it is a family day in Turkey. Went to a lovely restaurant for breakfast, that was literally on the water of the Bosphorus Sea. Had a delicisiokn breakfast and here is a photo of my espresso coffee (photo). Watched the boats and tankers. There are hiundreds of tankers and cargo ships all lined up in the sea here, waiting to go via the Bosphorus Sea as it is cheaper than going all the way round. Only one at a time can go. Here we are at breakfast – note teh mosque behind us.
Here is my coffee – what presentation – and good coffee too!
We then caught a ferry over to the Asia side of Istanbul. Saw the Palace from the boat and the skyline of Istanbul, with the mosque spires. Went to visit a friend of Cherie’s who had just had a baby then went shopping for nibbles. What amazing shops. Beautiful displays of pastrys etc. Was stunning! Then we went to the oldest Turkish delight shop so Peter and I could buy some delight. It is such a different texture and so fresh – compared to what we get in NZ.
Went then to Cherie’s house for drinks on her balcony. Very nice! Here are Peter and Cherie on teh balcony.
This is the view from Cherie’s balcony.
Then off to a stunning restaurant for dinner – at the top of a flash hotel and great views across the sea to the other side of Istanbul.
Again had a yum breakfast at the local café. Then we went in to the central city and went to the Grand Bazaar. Wow! Over 3000 shops, its own baths, police station, banks and restaurants – it was HUGE! Overwhelming in fact. We were lucky it was a Monday and not too busy. Part of the bazaar dates back to the 9th Century! It sells rugs, shawls, china, linen, handbags, jewellery – etc.
This photos show jsut onde tiny part of the Bazzar and its mazes.
We then went to see the Blue Mosque – however it was prayer time so we couldnt go inside. We shall have to go back. The photo is most of it but we couldnt fit it all in! It is the largest mosque in the world.
Then off to meet Cherie and some of her work colleagues before we went to a local street café for skewers of meat served with breads, onions, salads etc. Drank the local drink – sort of like ouzo. Peter and I managed (with clear directions from Cherie!) to walk home.
Charlotte, Cherie’s frined at dinner at the restaurant where the meat came on very long skewers.
So that is Turkey for us to date. We are loving the people, architecture, food and feel of it here. It is so nice staying in a local area with local people and shops (surrounded by antique shops) instead of in a hotel in a city centre. Today we are off on a cruise up the Bosphorus Sea to the Black Sea, then tomorrow we are flying to Cappadocia.
Hope all is well in NZ with all of you.
Lots of love, Jo and Peter. xx