Istanbul (not Constantinople)


Of course, we had to spend some time in Istanbul. Istanbul is the city that bridges East and West, bridges Europe and Asia - literally. All in all, Istanbul is a pretty cool place. It's definitely more European in feel than Asian (or Middle Eastern) in feel, but it does have a different vibe than other European cities we've been to.

A little geography, Istanbul spans the Bosphorus, which are the narrow straights which connect the Black Sea with the Mediterranean Sea (via the Marmares and the Dardanelles). The "Asian" side of Istanbul lies on the Southern bank of the Bosphorus (or Eastern, depending on how you hold your map), and is the Northernmost part of the Anatolian peninsula. The "European" side of Istanbul in, as you might expect, on the other side of the Bosphorus. All of the pictures that follow are from the European side.

The European side is also sort of bisected by an inlet from the Bosphorus known as the "Golden Horn." South of the Golden Horn is the "Old City" -- the Sultanahmet (home of the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia), Topkapi Palace, and Cagaloglu area, home of the Grand Bazaar, the Spice (Egyptian) Bazaar, the University, and the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent. Our hotel was in the Sultanahmet.

North of the Golden Horn (you cross over on the Galata Bridge) is the "New City," featuring Taksim Square and the pedestrian street Istikal Cad.

I'll get a map up one of these days.

On to the pictures:

Our hotel room, and views therefrom

Our hotel

Near the entrace to the Palace. Don't get your hopes up, we never actually went into the palace grounds...

Aya Sofia. More pics here.


Blue Mosque. More pics here.

Aya Sofia again.

Still don't know the answer to this question.

Fresh cats.

The following pictures are on and around Istikal Cad in the New City

The Old Flower Market. Now it is a bunch of bars and restaurants.

Time for a fish dinner.

Salt-encased Mediterranean sea bass. Handy tip -- if you want a get a dish like this (and it was outstanding), ask how much it is BEFORE you order.

In our case, about 120 lira per kilo -- for the fish we got, close to $250. It was good, but probably not THAT good.

Rooftop bar at the hotel, nursing the $250 fish hangover.

Blue Mosque. This is the day we actually went inside the mosque, click here for pictures.

Apparently "fresh Mex" is available in Istanbul, although we didn't try it. McDonald's is available of course (you can get either a McTurk or a Kofta burger in addition to the usual fare, we didn't eat there, just checked out the menu). Burger King, Pizza Hut and Dominos were all available, as was, of course, Starbucks.

The next pics are from Kapali Carsi, the Grand Bazaar.

The following pictures are from the underground Cistern, buit by Constantine in the 5th Century AD to hold water for the city.

Blue Mosque at night.

View across the Bosphorus to the Asian side.

The New Mosque.

The Spice Bazaar, or Egyptian Bazaar.

Shopping area behind the Spice Bazaar

They had shops that sold the necessary labels and such for counterfeiting designer duds. Pretty cool. Again, if only an IP attorney had been available...

Sorry the pic is a little blurry, I didn't get the impression they wanted my to take pictures of their wares...

Large teapot.

This is the Beyazit Mosque. Through a isreading of the map, we originally thought this was the Suleyman mosque, and although this mosque was quite nice, we felt that it fell short of the term "magnificent." It was still a nice mosque.

Istanbul University.

Inside the Beyazit mosque.

Cafe outside of the University, just before visiting the Suleyman Mosque.

The Suleyman Mosque compound. See more pics here.

A few pics taken from the hote during breakfast.

Aya Sofia again. This is the day we actually went inside, see the pics here.

Walking Istikal Cad down from Taksim Square.

Mmm, Turkish delight...

A church! Aya Trioda, a Greek Orthodox Church, to be precise!

Walking down past the Galata Tower to the bridge.

Galata Tower.

Underneath the bridge. There were a lot of gun shops, they didn't want to talk to us, but I am pretty sure these are all pellet guns.

At a different shop, I did see what appeared to be an AR-15 or M-16, but on closer inspection it turned out to be a replica chambered for .410 gauge shotshells! I didn't see any centerfire rifles or pistols for sale, but lots of shotguns, air pistols and rifles, and pistols chambered for .22 LR.

Galata bridge, fishing for sardines.

A little nargile (or hookah) action for John at a cafe underneath Galata bridge.

Night Fish Market North of the Golden Horn.

Suleyman Mosque from across the Golden Horn.

Galata Bridge

I think this pillar was the place where they measured distances from in this part of the Roman Empire.