I was on the rooftop lounge of our guesthouse, looking out over a rain-soaked Istanbul, when I put the final touches on a post called On Not Falling in Love With Istanbul. Shortly thereafter, the rain subsided, the sun came out, and the wind changed from a gale to a mere bluster! It was suddenly pleasant to be outside, provided you had a stocking cap and warm coat.
We had a wonderful last day in Istanbul and I was able to get some decent outdoor photos of the city. Lesson: when things are not going quite right, make a negative blog post and things will perk up.
We left Istanbul on a positive note, and I’d like to offer up a photo essay of positive experiences as a peace offering to the city for giving us one beautiful afternoon.
Follow along with me as I give you a photo tour of the city.
The Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya
The three main tourist sites in Istanbul – the Aya Sofya, The Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace – are all located within a few hundred meters of each other. It is super convenient to visit if you are an obnoxious tour group or short on time, but a little touristy. All three places are spectacular, despite the crowds.
The Aya Sofya interior. It was first a church, then a mosque and now a museum. On the top of the dome you see a mosaic of Mary with baby Jesus, juxtaposed by the Muslim medallions in Arabic script.
People watching in Istanbul might not be world class, but it is pretty solid. There is a mix of Turkish people in both modern and traditional clothes, stylish Europeans and expats, tourists and touts.
A Muslim girl smoking a cigerette. This is something I’ve never seen before in the Middle East. Turkey is easily the least conservative country I’ve been to in the region. Although most of the older women wore head scarves, only about 20% of the younger girls wore them.
The Galata Bridge is the place to be at sunset. Along the bottom of the bridge are bars, restaurants and hookah lounges, while on top anglers are packed together casting their lines into the sea. Tourists, families and local commuters are buzzing around, creating an exciting energy.
Food and Drink
Baklava: flaky pastry, nuts and honey. It is pure bliss, one of the best deserts I’ve eaten in my life. If I have to buy new pants on this trip due to mine not fitting any more, we will know the culprit.
Lastly, no photo tour of Istanbul would be complete without talking about cats. Cats are everywhere, and most of them are well fed. You can tell a lot about a culture by how they treat their cats, and this is a great culture.
Have you been to Istanbul? What did you think of the city?