Doing Instanbul

Istanbul - aerial overview about historical Su...

Istanbul – aerial overview about historical Sultanahmet and Galata district (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last  year I took a Skeptours cruise with two dozen friends, around the Mediterranean. Our embarkation was from Istanbul.

My friend Chris at the mosque. He wasn’t required to wear headscarves, natch

Istanbul has been on my bucket list for decades, and was a place that I never thought I would get to visit. Although our stay here was short, I was not disappointed. Several of my fellow travelers planned to arrive a few days before the ship departed, so that we would have extra time to tour the city.

The trip from the airport gave me a hint of the treasures of the city. Although we wound our way through busy  streets typical of any large city, I could see glimpses of the ancient city peeking through the signs advertising cell phones and soft drinks. As we entered the Sultanahmet District, the path turned into a rabbit’s warren of narrow streets.

I studied enough French in high school that I can make my way around France, and can puzzle out some Spanish. I know a smattering of German nouns. This is the first time I have ever felt like I was truly in a foreign country. Although they use the Latin alphabet, the Turkish language held no clues, and the culture was unlike any I have been in so far. I spent several days trying to perfect my pronunciation of teşekkür ederim (thank you) only to be corrected (albeit kindly) at every turn.

Turkish delight by the piece of pound. I like pistachio, covered with pistachios.

Irena pauses for tea and conversation between the broadcast calls for prayer

I read several books about Turkey and Istanbul before my trip (Istanbul’s Bazaar Quarter and National Geographic’s Traveler Guide are good starts), but once we arrived, we more or less winged along. My friends Chris and Irena had also arrived early, so we took the opportunity to see some of the mosques and the markets before the weekend crowds arrived.

The two things I most enjoy about traveling are looking at the architecture and signs, and new foods.

Early in the evening

My photographs tend to reflect this interest. Here, I show some of the foods and colors we found in Istanbul. Chris found a great restaurant that had a balcony overlooking the Bosporus and the Blue Mosque. We sat all evening, watching the scene change from bright blue through shades of rose, coral, and pink, and then illuminated only by the electric lights.

The mosque at dusk until only the electric lights of night illuminated the view.

After sunset

Chris ordered a traditional chicken dish ‘testi’ which was delicious and filling.

Traditional testi dish. The pot is broken along the score and the contents poured onto your plate.

I referred to the night we had ‘chicken testicles’ the rest of the trip, which I found hilarious but others, not so much. We also had meze with several meals. Meze is an assortment of small dishes, both hot and cold, that can be served as appetizers, with drinks, or for a meal. Eggplant is a common ingredient. I also found the prices quite reasonable, especially compared to my trips to London and Paris. The three of us enjoyed a bottle of wine, entrees, meze, and dessert, for under $100, and half of that was the wine.

At the Spice Market

Pomegranates and other fresh fruits are abundant here

I am lucky to have such easy-going travel companions. Irena was especially great, because as a world traveler she knew how to haggle with the shopkeepers and helped me buy scarfs and a small carved box that I might have paid the posted price for. Haggling wears me out, and I don’t enjoy it, but she is an artist!

Chestnut vendors


Categories: Art, Food, Friends, Skeptic, Travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

11 replies

  1. Lovely post. Thank you for including the link to my site.

  2. I love that city, although I probably spent a bit too much time in Taxim :S

  3. wow, now I want to go!

  4. Now I’m ready to return! Thanks for the great post and photos.

  5. Thanks for listing one of my Istanbul posts in your related references! This is a great post about an awesome city.


  1. Outdoor Cafes, and Always Being the Photographer | Two Different Girls
  2. Hagia Sophia in Istanbul – draft | Two Different Girls
  3. The Sultanahment “Blue” Mosque in Istanbul | Two Different Girls
  4. The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul | Two Different Girls
  5. The Colors of Istanbul | Two Different Girls

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