We're tired from 3 very busy days in Istanbul......we fit in a lot of stuff!
Day one: Or should I say night one! Levi, Maggie, pops and I went down to "the" place to be at night, Taksim. It's several miles of restaurants, clubs, stores, shopping, all bustling.....even at 2:00 am! The kids liked seeing the full streets and we all had fun eating and drinking Turkish chai in the middle of the night. We learned quickly to negotiate with ALL cab drivers as Rachel and I had been dropped off as soon as we'd arrived, straight off the ferry, to a spot a mile from our hotel with the 3 little ones. Not happy :( Thankfully the other cab with grammy and gramps went to the right hotel and were waiting for us when we finally got there.
Day two: Started out with breakfast at the hotel. Typical Turkish breakfast of hard boiled egg, toast, cucumber, olives, cheese and sausage, and of course tea! We bundled up and headed into the rain, and managed to see some of the sights before the little ones were wet and went back to the hotel for a hot bath. We saw the famous Blue Mosque, absolutely huge and impressive, then split up and the older kids and G&G and I went to Agia Sophia, originally a church started by Constantine in 365 AD, and changed to a mosque by Mehmet the Conqueror in mid 1400's. Now it's a museum and it's most recent guest was none other than our new president, Obama just last year. Although the churches and mosques are amazing, I can't help but wonder if it is religions' attempts to reach God. It all seems to me a sort of 'tower of Babel': man trying to reach God or impress God. I wonder what God thinks as he looks at all of our efforts? I'm reminded of when King David said of God: I don't desire sacrifice, but obedience.
Later that night, G&G surprised us with an early 20th anniversary gift and the four of us went to see a show of Whiling Dervishes. Very unique. It lasted a little over an hour and was accompanied by traditional music from the region. After, we found a restaurant and had a delicious meal of Turkish food and ended the night with baklava, fantastic!
Day three: We went to the Grand Bazaar, an amazing place with 4,000 stores in a huge indoor building spreading out over several kilometers. It's easily the largest and oldest market/bazaar in the world and is really overwhelming! we bargained for carpets, drank lots of free tea, watched gold deals go down for hundreds of thousands of dollars and saw some facinating antiques stores, calligraphy stalls, silversmiths, jewelry dealers, on and on and on! We walked from there in some bitter wind down a long roadway full of clothing stores heading to what's known as the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. It's from the mid 1600's when all the spices from Africa and Cairo came into Istanbul and eventually all through Europe. They are still a huge import/export area even today.
Day four: We called and met with a Turkish Dr. friend we'd met when we first came to Turkey in September, her name is Ada Qok. She met us at the hotel and we all went to a restaurant on the bridge overlooking the Bosphorus River. There is a road above and about 200 people fishing off the bridge. It was a beautiful setting. She helped us negotiate a deal and we all ate fresh fish plates of Sea Bass and Bream, fried Hamsi fish (a sort of sardine) from the Black Sea and piles of baked bread, salad, and cold sliced fruit plates. They also had walnut filled figs soaked in honey, delicious. After we said goodbye, we wandered around a bit and headed back to the hotel and rest up before our ferry back across the Sea of Marmara to the town of Bandirma where we left the car. We're hoping to make it back towards Izmir tonight, making our way to Marmaris tomorrow night.
Bye for now,
Tired in Istanbul,