Friday, June 1, 2012

24 Hours in Istanbul

Hello everyone!
As many of you have heard, before arriving in Ghana, we had a twenty-four hour layover in Istanbul! We're happy to say that we made it here safe and sound, and we'll quickly follow with an update of our first two days in Ho, but first we wanted to share our brief but really awesome experiences in Turkey!

We had an 11 hour flight from Dulles to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, and we were very impressed with the gourmet meals and a wide selection of movies. Because it was an overnight flight, we mostly slept. But Istanbul is 7 hours ahead of EST, so by the time we got there it was late afternoon and we were pretty rested and ready to go! We got a hotel in the Sultanhamet area--right in the middle of all the action. We decided to go to the fish market under Galata Bridge to eat. We both got bass and enjoyed our Turkish coffee and tea. We also discovered that in Turkey you can bargain for the price of your food at the restaurants. 

Molly fit right in with the Turks, but I was the only blonde for miles. Everyone was very friendly and wanted to talk to us about Germany because that's where they assumed we were from. We took a cruise of the Bosphorus and even disembarked on the Asia side of Istanbul for a while.

After the cruise, we took a taxi to Taksim Square, where there was a lot going on, despite it being midnight on a Tuesday. The vendors went on and on for miles with so many authentic Turkish goods. We checked out a Turkish nightclub and then went back to our hotel for a few hours of sleep.

The next morning we went for a run along the Bosphorus, which made us stand out because nobody in Istanbul runs. Instead, they have elliptical parks along the Bosphorus. We managed to find our way back to the hotel despite not having an IPhone to tell us where to go. 

 We ate breakfast on the roof of our hotel, which had a beautiful view of Istanbul. Then we headed to the Grand Bazaar, which was much more tourist-y than Taksim Square. We got a couple of souvenirs and then headed to Hagia Sophia.

We toured the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace. The history of the Hagia Sophia was fascinating. The structure that is standing today was built in the sixth century. Originally built by the Catholics, it became a Muslim mosque in the sixteenth century. Muslims and Christians alike were touring this relic. In our short time in Istanbul, we took note of how all cultures coexisted peacefully together. 

In our short time in Istanbul, we were able to see quite a bit. But we would love to go back some day. 24 hours in Istanbul is just not enough!  

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