Finally all caught up on this blog!
24.09.2012 - 24.09.2012
Today was loooong and so unexpectedly awesome! I was NOT excited for these last few days of our trip because I didn't have much of an interest in going to Istanbul or Amsterdam, but wow was I proved wrong. Istanbul is such an exciting, fun, interesting city!!
We started the day with breakfast downstairs in our hostel, which consisted of hardboiled eggs, melon, cucumbers, tomatoes, bread, cheese, olives and this weird hybrid between bread & cake. It was such a strange assortment of food but we were starving so we both ate. On our way home tonight, we passed a restaurant that served breakfast and read the menu and found out that this was pretty typical for a breakfast spread. Weird!
We walked down that Istiklal Caddesi Street, the one from last night, and in broad daylight it is JUST as cool but in a different way. Last night it was lined with clubs on the top of little shops and all the shops were closed. In the day, the tops of the buildings are all dead and the bottom little stores are all lined up and open with cool, different stuff. We found an old map/book store where we're going to get an old map of Constantinople tomorrow. We found a store Andrew called the "gentleman's store," which had little globes, pens, pocket-watches and a bunch of other cool stuff. We wanted to buy out the entire store. It was amazing. There are also a bunch of cool cheapy jewelry stores and I bought 2 more bracelets to add to my collection and Andrew even got a ring.
Our first stop was one I knew Andrew was going to want to see as soon as I read it, the Galata Tower. He loves going up into towers and taking pictures of all the sights so this was right up his alley. We had to go up to the 7th floor and then climb 2 flights of stairs. Down on the ground floor, we were waiting in line to pay and these 2 old ladies in front of us could not grasp the concept of how much it cost and spent a good 10 minutes trying to pay. We ended up in the same elevator as them and when they got off, they went up one flight of the 2 flights. On this one, there's a restaurant, but it was closed and was barricaded off. These women moved the barricade and just went into the restaurant. I guess they didn't feel like going up the last flight?? The view was really cool and we got to see a lot of what we were going to see up close the next 2 days.
2 or 3 people have already asked us if we were Australian and 2 people have assumed I was Spanish.
Our next stop was the Yeni Cami mosque. At the mosques here, you have to take off your shoes before you enter and women have to cover their heads with shawls. They provide shawls for visitors at the entrance which was lucky because I wouldn't have been able to go in otherwise. It was beautiful inside and we got a bunch of pictures! There were people praying up front and it seems like there are always sermons going on. It's weird though because it's only men up there praying and the women were in the back with us visitors...
After the mosque, we went to the Grand Bazaar!! I had really high expectations for it, but the streets leading up to it were far more impressive. Things were really cheap and there was a HUGE variety. You get a lot better deals and the shop keeps are a lot nicer and don't bother you at all. Once you enter the GB, it's a lot of rugs, expensive jewelry and knockoff designer bags, shoes & scarves. The owners are really pushy and keep telling you to come in and if you stop for a second to look at something, they're on you in a second. One thing that shocked us in there though was that one guy randomly came up to us and grabbed an empty cup we were holding and threw it out for us in his store.(there are not a lot of garbages around the streets here.. but they are ALWAYS CLEANING!!! It's insane.. there are always garbage trucks or street cleaners out.. it's a really impressive city)... we were so shocked at such a little act of kindness. (It's also important to note what was in the cup - there are little juicer stores everywhere here! We had a pomegranate/orange juice and it was incredible.. they juice it right in front of you and they have a ton of fruit options - unless you want more than one fruit, then you have like 3 choices)
After the GB, we went to the Blue Mosque, which was equally as gorgeous as the Yeni Cami and also had similar coverage & shoe rules, except here they gave me something to put around my waist since my pants didn't go to the floor and only to just below my knee.
Our last stop was the Topkapi Palace, which we read would take a few hours. There was a lot to see: jewels, armor, weapons, Sultan portraits & robes... It was a lot of walking and by the end I was just really tired, but I'm glad we went. It was beautiful and interesting to see all of the centuries old paintings and JEWELS!!!
On our way to grab dinner, the little shops by the Grand Bazaar were all closing, but when we got back up to Istiklal street, everything was still loud and crazy! We got dinner at this build your own salad place which was really good and of course I got a chicken pita here too.. so I had about half of both and Andrew finished them
Now we're just back in the hostel and were going to plan for tomorrow and Amsterdam but Andrew fell asleep and I'm getting pretty tired myself. So happy I got to catch up on this blog! Be home in 4 days!!