Istanbul, Turkey

Waterfront Fort001.JPG (120360 bytes) Welcome to Turkey.  As the boat pulled into the port in S. Turkey, I saw this fort along the water with the Turkish flag proudly displayed.  Ray at Lunch.JPG (129546 bytes) After 10 hours on a bus, it was nice to finally reach Istanbul and see Uncle Ray.  Here he gets directions toward Hagia Sofia after a great lunch.
Brain For Lunch.JPG (118594 bytes) Can you guess what was being served at this diner for lunch?  Yes, brain!  Though, I have tried many new foods thus far in Istanbul, I chose to pass on brain!  Wouldn't you? CIMG0212.JPG (867592 bytes) Iskender is one of the foods that I have tried and liked.  Though our Turkish consists of only a few words we have found our way to some pretty good restaurants.
CIMG0233.JPG (854301 bytes) Alright, last picture of food?  This is why I have gained 15 lbs on the trip thus far!:)  Anyone for some dessert?  Some filo dough stuffed with nuts covered in syrup!!! Yummy! Hagia Sofia023.JPG (121491 bytes) During our first full day to explore Istanbul, we went to the Hagia Sofia.   Here it is pictured in the evening!  The Hagia Sofia is a site that both Muslims and Christians hold dearly.
Hagia Sofia017.JPG (132319 bytes) Inside the church, a lot of work is being done to uncover the mosaics that had been plastered over when the Muslims overtook this holy site. Hagia Sofia007.JPG (141565 bytes) It seems as though just about every church I have visited this summer has had scaffolding up.  But even with the scaffolding it was not hard to see the beauty and enormity of this church.
Bazaar002.JPG (142083 bytes) People, people and more people.  Istanbul has more people in the city than any other city in the world.  At times it feels like they are all walking through the bazaar looking for deals. Ray's Spice Lesson.JPG (144561 bytes) Here is Uncle Ray getting a lesson on the various spices being sold in the Egyptian Spice Bazaar.  Anyone need some suffren or paprika?
Hippodrome002.JPG (53973 bytes) The Hippodrome is hardly a shadow of its former self.  However, this obelisk still stands (in part) within the confines of the hippodrome from many centuries ago.  Cultural Festival001.JPG (122400 bytes) The Festival of Culture is taking place while we are here. One evening we went and heard some Turkish music being played.  A cultural experience.:)
Topkapi Palace001.JPG (131292 bytes) Turkey is a place with so much rich history.  It is so great being here with Uncle Ray to explore Istanbul.  Here is a picture from the Harem’s quarters at Topkapi Palace. Topkapi Palace014.JPG (137155 bytes) Outside of Topkapi Palace we took a moment to catch our breath and figure out what else we would like to see.  Topkapi Palace is where the Sultans lived in Istanbul for many generations.
Cistern001.JPG (134128 bytes) After the palace we went to the underground Cistern which dates back to the reign of Justinian.  It was beautiful.   We enjoyed thinking of how much fun it would be to sneak in and snorkel in here!J Turkish Pizza.JPG (124518 bytes) After the cistern it was time for food.  We went and had ordered some Turkish pizza made on pita.  It was homemade in this wood burning oven.  Delicious.
Antique Bazaar.JPG (146209 bytes) From there it was time to watch Uncle Ray in action in the antique bazaar.  Unfortunately, we did not find anything worth any investment, but it was fun to watch Ray work! Turkish Baths001.JPG (126210 bytes) A trip to Turkey would not be complete without a trip to the baths.  It was a memorable experience.  I prefer the massages I got at Caneel, but the setting here was very unique.  Bachshish!
Bosphorus Boat Ride014.JPG (1075431 bytes) What we’d hoped would be an educational 2 hour boat ride down the Bosphorus, turned out to be a 4 hour ride without much education.  It was fun to be on the water, but not what we expected! Archaeological Museu001.JPG (1048934 bytes) Here I am sitting in an ancient baptismal outside the archaeological museum.  I was a bit surprised to receive a baptism by sprinkling when I was just trying to take a picture!J
Archaeological Museu010.JPG (979066 bytes) Do I fit in?  I am surrounded by the busts of Constantine and another bust of a former ruler.  Again, it was great to walk the museum and learn from listening to Uncle Ray’s varied facts. Archaeological Museu017.JPG (645123 bytes) Shh, don’t tell, but Ray decided to climb into one of the sarcophagus’.  He was surprised to find out that he wasn’t the first one to have this idea! 
Istanbul Walls002.JPG (1124904 bytes) One of the last sites we saw was the old walls around Istanbul which helped to fortify and protect the city from invasion.  Final Dessert.JPG (1015089 bytes) Our time together ended with baklava, on the steps across from our hotel.  Thank you Uncle Ray for a wonderfully enjoyable and educational time in Turkey.  On to Romania!!!!