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Part 1

Arriving in Istanbul.


Our friend Soe drove us to the the airport early in the morning. Thanks, Soe! We flew through New York, and had a great view of Manhattan on the way in and out.


Our hotel in Istanbul, Hotel Sebnem, had some great handmade embroidery in the rooms. On our first day, we took a walk along the Bosphoros, very close to Old Istanbul, where we stayed.  It was packed with fisherman, trying their luck.


We took a ferry along the Bosphoros.  After we saw this palace along the water... ...we asked this man, who looked very Turkish to us, in Turkish, what the building was called (using our phrase book).  He stared at us blankly for a few seconds, then said "I don't speak Turkish", in Australian English!  We all had a good laugh over that.  The name of the place was the Dolmabahce Palace.


This is the view from the outside patio on which we had breakfast at our hotel. Just outside the Topkapi palace, which was the living quarters of the sultans from the 1400 until the early 1800. Many of the tourist facilities are heavily guarded, because the Turks want to protect the tourism industry from potential terrorist attacks.  This guy was a lot friendlier than he looks.


The road into Topkapi palace.  Very pleasant. We went through a full security check, with metal detectors, upon entering the palace.


The interior courtyard was beautiful.  Early in the morning like this, there were very few tourists. Eric and I at Topkapi palace.


We took a tour of the harem inside Topkapi palace.  Some of the most interesting things to see there were the old-fashioned and ornate plumbing facilities, used by the sultan. This is a Turkish style squat toilet, with facilities for hand washing.  Only the best marble for the sultan, of course.


This is the Emperors Chambers. Many cabinets looked like this, with mother-of-perl inlaid with tortoiseshell.  According to our guide, often the sultans made these cabinets as a hobby.


Eric, in the sultan's bedroom  Notice that there's no pictures anywhere, only patterns.  This is because in Islam, it is forbidden to make images of people or things. The sons of the sultan studied in this room.


We stopped off at the weapons museum at the palace. Lunch was at the museum cafeteria, overlooking the Bosphoros.  Eric has just taken one too many photos of Sylvia.


These 2 photos are from separate little buildings within the palace grounds, built to commemorate military victories.


Eric is getting a haircut here.  Part of the haircut is to burn off hair on the face and the ears.  Pretty scary! The Aya Sofia started out as a Byzantine church built in about 500.  In 1453 it was converted to a mosque, and in the early part of this century it was converted again, this time to a museum.


Right outside the Aya Sofia are the ruins of another church, from around the year 400.  Excavations appear to be ongoing, and debris is scattered about outside. This is the inside of the church/mosque/museum.  Notice the huge Islamic placards hung up to make it less church-like.  The placards show the names, in Arabic, of God, Mohamed and the 4 caliphs.


There's a massive reconstruction effort underway, with some very impressive scaffolding.  Notice the elevator going up (the red box near the bottom). This structure was put in after the church was converted to a mosque.  Sermon were given from it on Fridays.
EricAndSylvia  |  Pictures  |  Turkey  |  Part 1   <<< 1 2 3  All >>> © 2013 Eric Vasilik