Getting on the flight to Istanbul from Amsterdam was extremely uncomfortable for me. Guys that normal send my situational awareness alarms off were everywhere on this flight. I figured they aren’t out to kill a plane full of Muslims just to take out two Americans. So we were safe.
We got through immigration and customs easily then purchased our train tickets. We switched from the train onto the tram, then walked from the tram to our hostel. It was pretty painless. Public transportation is pretty much the same around the world.
After checking into our hostel we went for a walk and had dinner. It was fun and expensive to eat at a restaurant that lures tourists in with a cute old lady making food in the window. After dinner we went into a Turkish Delight Shop and had some samples. We settled on 10 Lira worth of Rose Petal delights. They are amazing!!!
The next morning we had a hard time getting out of our warm bunk bed. We finally did and had breakfast on the terrace for 10 Lira each.
We headed out and made the Hagia Sophia our first stop. This was the first Christian Church ever built by Constantine. When Constantinople fell in 1453 it became a mosque. Today it is a museum. Strange that it was a mosque for almost 500 years and they couldn’t pry all the Christian tiles off the wall.
Afterwards we went to Topkapi Palace. This palace is huge! And we walked around for 5 hours! I felt like Aladdin.
We then went to the Archeological Museum. A lot of the same items we have seen in Rome. Lots of sarcophagi.
We ate some street food along the way.
Then we trammed it to the Grand Bazaar. It was like every other market around the world. High pressure sales for knock off items. It’s finding the great bargains on the items you want. Sierra made out well. Everything I wanted was too heavy to deal with lugging home. I may go back for the $200 piece of art I was looking at. It was fun! We had lentil soup from the nicest man ever. He had the cutest loft restaurant inside the busy bazaar. We made friends with the tea guy and lots of vendors. It was fun for them to try to guess where we are from. My skin and eyes make me look very Turkish! But when I can’t speak Turkish they go to Spanish and think I’m South American. When that doesn’t work they try Italian. It’s funny when I ask them to please speak English. They seemed honestly shocked. I’m thinking that’s a great thing. I’m not a target for terrorists!
After the bazaar we took the tram and then transferred onto the funicular to Taksim Square. When we got off and into the square 2 men were looking at us in a way that made me uncomfortable. Then Sierra said, “Why are we here, this place is empty”. I saw some news vans and immediately knew we just missed a bombing. I told Sierra that it’s usually packed and that something must have happened. We walked to a falafel shop and met a man with his family. He told us what had happened and told us it wasn’t safe for us to be there. So we walked around for a bit, used a hotel restroom, then headed back. It was an eerie feeling. The smell in the air was wrong and you just knew you weren’t safe.
After we were back in our hostel area we stopped and had some tea. Along with a yummy assortment of desserts. The man was super nice and gave us a free piece of his favorite baklava.
I think Sierra may never leave Turkey! The men are all hunky, nice, and well groomed.