Europe / Photo Essay

A Photo Tour of Istanbul, or Expect More Negative Posts in the Future

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.
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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.

Blue Mosque Interior The Blue Mosque Interior

blue mosque istanbul Blue Mosque exterior

20131007-111656.jpg The Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia are separated by a park that is filled with tourists by the day, but surprisingly empty at night during a rain storm.

20131008-103329.jpg 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.
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People Watching

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.

20131007-112148.jpg A family on a bench near the Aya Sofia

muslim girl smoking istanbul 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.

Hippodrome child with pigeons Why are we so mean to pigeons? We feed them in photogenic squares and then set our children free to harass the hell out of them.

20131007-112656.jpg I don’t think this foreign girl read the sign.
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Galata Bridge

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.

20131007-112917.jpg I stashed Kristi in one of the shops below while I braved the wind to take sunset photos.

Galata bridge at sunset Sunset on the Galata Bridge is pure magic.

Istanbul Sunset Classic Istanbul sunset.

20131007-112803.jpg Some dude on the Galata Bridge with rabbits. I have no idea what he was doing.
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Food and Drink

20131007-113606.jpg 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.

20131007-113759.jpg Would you like to make Turkish Coffee at home? Here is the recipe. Mix 2oz. of gasoline with a spoonful of top soil. As much as I love baklava, I do NOT love Turkish Coffee.

20131007-113935.jpg We call them “spinning meats,” the ubiquitous vertical spits where venders carve off juicy cuts of meat to stuff in pitas. Even the dogs are fans.

20131007-114109.jpg Turkish Pizza. Yum.

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Cats

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.

20131007-114334.jpg This friendly guy jumped in my lap at a mosque.

20131007-114412.jpg A cat hanging out in the gift shop at the Chora Church.

20131007-114516.jpg We had a box of kittens outside our guesthouse. This made Kristi very happy.

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Have you been to Istanbul? What did you think of the city?

 

26 thoughts on “A Photo Tour of Istanbul, or Expect More Negative Posts in the Future

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  2. Hello, when I miss Istanbul I look at what other travel bloggers are documenting about that beautiful city. Yours are lovely photos of the Galata Bridge and I particularly like the dog begging for meat! As for the man with the rabbit on the bridge, this puzzled me too the first time an old man gestured to me from a park while holding up a rabbit. I thought he wanted to sell me a pet. As it turns out, if you approach the man, he will ask your name and tell it to the rabbit, then the rabbit will use its teeth to pick a slip of paper from a box that has a fortune on it (kind of like a fortune in a Chinese fortune cookie). I think you can get one written either in English or Turkish. If you have a Turkish friend along, it’s fun to get one in Turkish and have your friend translate. Thanks for the memories.

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  11. Loved ur photographs…i am a baby/kids photographer…but seeing ur blog I am inspired to finally put my travel tales into my blog…lets see when…I personally love istanbul…I was there a few years back for 5 days and it was a super duper amazing experience….

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