Waking up in Istanbul made for such an exciting morning! I anxiously awaited the ship to dock so I could begin my cultural journey in Turkey. By spending a few days here, there was plenty of time to get a real feel for this cultural melting pot. I could definitely see how it’s such a combination of Europe and Asia through the architecture and food. I crossed the Galata Bridge for stunning views and walked along a pier where I was able to stand in two continents at once: Europe and Asia!
I checked out Hagia Sophia, a former mosque now turned museum, and it was so very elegant and beautiful. The lights inside were stunning. Some of the lights hung pretty low and I could feel warmth from the bulbs. It was radiant!
I had lunch with some others at the magnificent Topkapi Palace, former home of the sultans. It was a very hot day and because we had walked around so much, we were feeling pretty tired. We found a clear grass patch and stretched out to relax and regenerate. A few others ended up full-out napping.
After lunch and the much needed rest stop, we saw the city’s major attraction: the stunning Blue Mosque. It’s an amazing building with a series of domes and minarets dominating the skyline, complete with a breathtaking interior of tens of thousands of blue tiles. The upper levels of the interior are dominated by blue paint. More than 200 stained glass windows with intricate designs admit natural light, today assisted by chandeliers.
Upon entering, I tilted my head all the way back to take in all the tiles. The sight was incredibly pretty. I wish I was able to go up the steps and view the tiles from a higher level, but unfortunately tourists in the past chipped off some blue tiles, and now access up there is blocked.
After the Blue Mosque, we went to see some Turkish rugs authentically handmade. While watching the extremely intricate weaving, I sampled some Turkish apple tea. After the demonstration was over, there was time for us to shop. A salesman revealed some “magic carpets” to us. He picked up what looked like an ordinary Turkish rug and whipped it across the room. It completely hovered over the floor until it gently fell back to the ground. As amazing and impressive as that would’ve been to take home with me, the space in my luggage and my spending money wouldn’t allow it!