It must be done. I’ve been dreading blogging about Istanbul. Why? Time.
It’s always a painful ordeal to dig into the spiraling recesses of my already forgetful mind about something that passed a few days ago, let alone 2 weekends ago. And my stubbornness won’t allow me to write about the most recent trip (London) until Istanbul is remembered, documented, and filed away. It must be done.
Now that I’m done being dramatic, Istanbul was AWESOME.
It was such a trip (haha) into the even more unknown unknown. Chaotic in so many ways – the streets, the markets, the history… It’s a beautiful mess. Pardon the cliche.
Where to begin… the streets.
I don’t know how clear I’ve been in previous posts but I really really really alleyways and narrow streets ahah. I have no idea why. It just seems so cozy. Such a difference from back home. Everything seems so quaint and cute or something.
Random street art anywhere and everywhere.
Including behind these cute low tables and stools/seats. I like the juxtaposition. It’s like the street art is embraced, just as much a part of the restaurant/cafe as the furniture itself.
Cats and dogs roam the streets. They belong to no one and everyone. We didn’t notice until the tour guide pointed it out, but no animal looked malnourished or hungry. Why? Everyone feeds them. The dogs have tags on their ears indicating they have their shots. Is that cool or what?!?! No one in the States view animals like this haha. I really like it. The dog in the last picture… not dead. Straight chillin.
Inside the Blue Mosque. First time being required to wear a head scarf. Not the first time being required to take off my shoes. It was interesting being present in the mosque as a visitor, a tourist looking to check this place off a list and also sharing the same space with those who come to pray. The are below the lights in the first picture is for those who come religiously.
Here we are, this awesome tour group in front of the Hagia Sophia. Our guide, the chick in the middle, named Esin was pretty awesome. Super sweet and infectiously enthusiastic about the city and its history.
Inside the Hagia Sophia. The sheer open space is breathtaking to me. First a church, then a mosque, and now a museum. It was built in a little over 5 years… How? It’s a patchwork of structures, tiles, frames taken from different places. I don’t know the details but that’s what I remember from the tour. I thought that was pretty beautiful in itself. The structure endures the test of time and mankind. And here it is today.
From within the Hagia Sophia. I was mesmerized by the detail and care that went into the art. This looks like it’s painted on the wall. No sirree. It’s a mosaic of teeny tiny pieces. Teeny tiny. Can you imagine someone poring over each square centimeter? Humans are so interesting. Religion, superstition, whatever we want to call it. What value does it inherently hold, a work of art such as this? Only what we put in it. And today, after centuries, one’s devotion at a point in time is remembered and admired by thousands today. Cool.
The Galata Bridge occupied by fishermen of all ages. Not one female. Lol. Men and fishing, I tell you.
Entrance to Topkapi Palace. I really really really like the gold on black lettering and decorations. So simple and elegant.
Onto the grub.
Of course, right? Hahah. Shwarma shwarma shwarma every dayyyy. I love watching them work. I wished I could try slicing the meat.
Dropped in a random corner restaurant. Everything was great until we asked where we could get some legit baklava. The guy looks at us for a sec, brightens up, puts up hand, and hurries into the restaurant (we were seated outside in the patio). Several minutes later, my friend Corinne and I are anxious to get on our way for some sweet goodness when he returns with two plates with something that resembles baklava. I’m not a food critic but if you serve me something that I cannot finish, we have problems. Major issues. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying. Baklava in its home country can still suck big time. The next night we searched for redemption and came away victorious. A picture is not available because we didn’t have time between ordering it and pouncing on it. Good times.
Baklava. Flaky sweet goodness. I can definitely not eat these everyday. Too sweet for my taste personally but had to try it, especially after that subpar experience. Sorry, I’m just a little bitter.
Turkish delights for days. So delicious. So everywhere lol. I’m not really one for sweets, but I really like these because they’re filled with pistachios, pomegranate, almonds, honey, etc. Yums.
Turkish tea. I liked it quite a bit. I also liked the little glass it always seemed to come in.
This. This is called kokorec. It is also called delicousness in my dictionary. It’s sweet bread wrapped, or strangled with lamb intestines. I really really liked this. I will go on a hunt for this back in the States.
Bagels are my thing. This is not a bagel. But very similar. I could probably eat this everyday. So easy to carry and eat, such a simple taste. Very satisfying. Called simit. Cost 1 Turkish lira. Which is $.50. How can you say no??
Lastly, I just want to say, my friend Corinne and I went to a Turkish bath. Basically it’s like a Korean sauna/spa, except the entrance fee includes getting a complete scrub down and shampoo from almost naked women.
This is us looking squeaky clean and emerging as new creatures. Seriously, there’s nothing like a good clean scrub. I would definitely do this again.
And that’s pretty much it.
I guess some last words regarding this trip would be nice right about now.
Istanbul was amazing. Not just the city but the fact that I was able to plan out a trip and explore beyond the confines of everything I’ve known – even more. I didn’t tell my dad I would be going to Istanbul until after the fact. I didn’t want to deal with any opposition against doing what I wanted to do. (I let him know after, and he berated me a bit until he realized I had already gone and he couldn’t stop me.) The world is so big, yet so small. So small, yet so big. I can’t help but drink in every experience and immerse myself in it.
Apart from the traveling, I’ve become accustomed to living in Barcelona. I don’t think about home, at least not just yet. The city is growing on me, I’m no longer so aware of my foreignness. No doubt, the locals can smell it on me but at least on my end I’m comfortable enough to get on the subway without worrying about where to stand, trying not to fall over when it gets going, or staring intently at the map praying I’m on the right one… heading the right way. Hahhaa. It’s a cool place to be, especially after 20+ years in the same place.
Thanks for reading.
I leave you with this, the Bosphorus River. This was taken within the first 30 minutes of a 2 hour cruise, The last 75% of the cruise was spent freezing as the weather went from a beautiful sunny blue to a gloomy sullen gray. Lol.