Mosque // Do All Things With Love

Rüstem Paşa Camii, Istanbul

Date: 14 September 14
Local Time: 10:00pm
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Hours of sleep in last 24: 8

We woke up at 3am to drive from Çıralı to the Antalya airport to fly up to Istanbul. The plan for our 48 hours in Istanbul was to a) see all the ‘must see’ sights and b) catch up with some old friends. Both were well accomplished.

Airport // Do All Things With Love

Antalya airport at sunrise

We arrived in Istanbul around 9:00am and jumped on the metro into Askaray, then navigated by foot and a jam-packed trolley to our first stop: the Grand Bazaar.

Grand Bazaar // Do All Things With Love

Grand Bazaar // Do All Things With Love

Grand Bazaar // Do All Things With Love

Grand Bazaar // Do All Things With Love

The bazaar is a maze that contains thousands of little stalls where you can buy everything from knock-off designer jackets, to t-shirts, to gold, to confections, to rugs and just about everything in between. My impression was that it’s where the tourists go to shop, but none of the locals. Every vendor was calling out to passerby’s in English trying to sell their wares (this felt weird after not hearing any English for my first seven days in Turkey). It was crowded and all the vendors were pushy and the prices compared to other places were outrageous, too bad it was a tourist trap. So we walked through for about 15 minutes while I took pictures, then left without buying anything.

Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) // Do All Things With Love

Our next stop took us to the Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque). It was gorgeous, and crowded with tourists. If you go, a word to the wise: go first thing in the morning just after morning prayer to beat the thousands and thousands of daily tourists. This and the Grand Bazaar were the only free places to visit, everywhere else had a small (and sometimes not so small) entry fee.

Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) // Do All Things With Love

Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) // Do All Things With Love

Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) // Do All Things With Love

Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) // Do All Things With Love

Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) // Do All Things With Love

Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) // Do All Things With Love

It really was breathtaking. My pictures do not do it justice. Above all, this mosque is an active place of worship, and as with all mosques there are five daily calls to prayer. They let tourists in to visit in a designated gallery just in between the prayer times. As with all mosques, if you are female you are required to dress modestly and wear a headscarf. There is a stall outside that lends scarves and very big robes to fit anyone not dressed modestly. I knew this ahead of time and brought my own scarf and wore leggings and a tunic.

Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) // Do All Things With Love

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Our next stop was Ayasofya, which was formerly an orthodox church, then became a mosque and in 1935 became a museum. It is currently undergoing some renovations, so you will see some scaffolding in these pictures. This is a really beautiful piece of architecture and it was really interesting to see the mixture of Roman Catholic mosaics and art mixed with the medallions featuring Arabic script.

Ayasofya Müzesi // Do All Things With Love

Ayasofya Müzesi // Do All Things With Love

Ayasofya Müzesi // Do All Things With Love

Ayasofya Müzesi // Do All Things With Love

Ayasofya Müzesi // Do All Things With Love

Ayasofya Müzesi // Do All Things With Love

Ayasofya Müzesi // Do All Things With Love

Ayasofya Müzesi // Do All Things With Love

After finishing up at Ayasofia, we headed to find some lunch and then went to visit the Yerebatan Sarnıcı (Basilica Cistern). I didn’t know much about this place but had seen some cool photos in the tour guides, so we checked it out.

Yerebatan Sarayı // Do All Things With Love

Yerebatan Sarayı // Do All Things With Love

Yerebatan Sarayı // Do All Things With Love

It was really impressive, and nice and cool after being in the sweltering hot sun all day. There were massive fish swimming around and it was very peaceful. There are 336 marble columns supporting the ceiling and two of the columns are unusual in that they have Medusa heads underneath them. It is still a mystery why, and they are pretty creepy.

Istanbul // Do All Things With Love

Street pastry vendor outside of the Basilica.

Topkapı Sarayı // Do All Things With Love

The next stop on our whirlwind tour was Topkapı Sarayı (Topkapi Palace). This was once the royal home of Ottoman sultans and the epicenter of the Ottoman kingdom. This is a huge palace complex which is now an extensive museum and realistically you could use a few days to see it all. We spent about  two hours here, and about one hour of which was spent standing in line to see some of the treasure collection.

Topkapı Sarayı // Do All Things With Love

Entrance to the Imperial Council chamber.

Topkapı Sarayı // Do All Things With Love

The Imperial Treasury

Topkapı Sarayı // Do All Things With Love

The line of people waiting to be admitted to the treasury.

Topkapı Sarayı // Do All Things With Love

The palace grounds

Topkapı Sarayı // Do All Things With Love

Topkapı Sarayı // Do All Things With Love

Interior gate to the Palace

Bosphorus // Do All Things With Love

Wonderful views of the Bosphorus from Topkapi Palace

Foot traffic on the street outside of Topkapi Palace.

Foot traffic on the street outside of Topkapi Palace.

So by the end of Topkapi Palace we were exhausted and ready for dinner. We walked to the trolly and took the Metro up to the Taksim district to meet up with some friends.

Taksim Square // Do All Things With Love

You may remember hearing about Taksim Square and Gezi Park in the news around May 2013 when there was a huge wave of demonstrations against the initial violent removal by the police force of a peaceful sit-in protest against an urban development project that would cut down trees in the Taksim Gezi Park. You can read more about the protests here: 2013-14 protests in Turkey. Taksim is a really young and busy place. The streets reminded me of walking around in Manhattan except with more people. This isn’t the touristy area of Istanbul, this is where the locals spend their time. I loved it.

Gezi Park // Do All Things With Love

There are still many reminders of the protests.

Taksim // Do All Things With Love

The crowded streets of Taksim

So at the end of day one in Istanbul, we found our way to a cafe to spend the evening with friends.

Istanbul // Do All Things With Love

Galata Kulesi (Galata Tower), located in the Galata/Karaköy district.

The next morning after a nice brunch we caught a quick 1.5 hour boat tour on the Bosphorus. It was like $2.50 USD and totally great. I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything longer but it was amazing to see the sheer size of the city. Istanbul just keeps going forever!

Istanbul // Do All Things With Love

Galata Köprüsü (Galata Bridge)

Istanbul // Do All Things With Love

Istanbul // Do All Things With Love

Kız Kulesi (Maiden’s Tower)

Istanbul // Do All Things With Love

Istanbul // Do All Things With Love

Istanbul // Do All Things With Love

Istanbul // Do All Things With Love

Istanbul // Do All Things With Love

Istanbul // Do All Things With Love

Dolmabahçe Sarayı (Dolmabahçe Palace): used as the presidential summer residence during the term of Atatürk.

After our boat tour we headed back to Taksim to hang out until we were scheduled to have dinner with friends.

Simit // Do All Things With Love

A simit vendor on our way to Taksim

Taksim // Do All Things With Love

A produce vendor on the street

Taksim // Do All Things With Love

Streets of Taksim

And with that, I conclude our Turkish adventure. I’m going back as soon as I can. If you ever find yourself with the ability to visit Istanbul or Turkey, do it! What a magnificent place.

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