Saturday, March 23, 2013

Exotic Istanbul Turkey

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We were heading south to flee the cold of the central European winter and to from the made Mediterranean sun.  Our 2 month long journey throughout the mid-February semester Grand Bazaarbreak began in Southern Germany, and wound it’s means slowly through the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia and then a final end of the day train all the way down to the port of Istanbul, the eu gateway to Asia. when weeks of traveling in snow and cold, visions of heat clear days in Istanbul framed by the turquoise waters of the Bosporus Strait sounded pretty smart.

Arriving within the afternoon, we tend to immediately noticed that our intentions of basking within the sunshine might need been thwarted, as not solely was it cold within the town, however it had been uncharacteristically snowing.  Glumly, we tend to started to seek out one amongst the backpacker hotels counseled by our guide book, and when operating our means additional into the labyrinth streets of Istanbul, we tend to finally found the place we tend to were yearning for. we tend to were shown upstairs to a bedroom with eight single beds aligned. the value was right, therefore we tend to set to remain and were oddly (at the time it appeared odd) given six or seven massive wool blankets for our bedding.

To orient ourselves, we tend to began our explorations at the huge advanced of spectacular structures within the Sultanahmet district, the guts of the previous town.  Sprawling parks dotted with fountains and lawns connected lovely mosques just like the Ayasofya (Hagia Sofia) and therefore the Blue Mosque, similarly as historical buildings and museums. we tend to had planned to explore on our own avoiding guided tours and therefore the like, however when ignoring variety of offers from touts, we tend to were approached by a middle aged man who pursued us in a formidable style of Hagia Sophialanguages together with Russian and a few type of Scandinavian.  For reasons that are lost to me over time, we tend to set to finally interact Ahmed, representing ourselves as Germans rather than Americans. we tend to were learning in Germany at the time, and it sounded like we {might|we'd} garner additional enthusiasm from the Turks than one or two of usa citizens might.  Ahmed had lived in Germany for several years it turned out, and that we created arrangements to satisfy him consequent day for a private and intimate tour of town.

That night we tend to discovered why we wanted such a big amount of blankets for our beds….there was no heat!  Istanbul is usually terribly delicate to hot, therefore most inexpensive hotels and houses didn’t have heat. we tend to slept that night with several layers of clothing and still were miserably cold the whole time. consequent day, we tend to upgraded to a different youth hostel that offered very little house heaters for concerning an additional greenback per night.  Running on empty from a sleepless night, we tend to met Ahmed back at the Sultanahmet district and started our behind the scenes tour of town, and behind the scenes it had been.

Aside from visiting the aforementioned mosques, that were magnificently adorned in made wall to wall mosaics and tiles, we tend to rambled through town down passageways no tourist would ever notice, or additional to the purpose notice their means back out of. little steep alleyways crisscrossed the sprawl of Istanbul, affording wonderful views of the crystal blue strait below and glimpses of the cobbled along homes that the common folks lived in.  As we tend to got additional out from the middle, it took on the design and feel of shanty cities, with structures made up of no matter folks might notice, barely ready to stand up to the delicate weather, and positively giving no running water or electricity. we tend to visited a conventional tea house, superbly tiled and peaceful, where previous men sipped the sturdy sweet nectar that's Turkish tea and played dominoes. we tend to visited little pastry retailers that offered sticky treats all based mostly on puff pastry and flavored with pistachio, honey and rosewater.  Minarets might be seen everywhere and therefore the haunting and mesmerizing decision to prayer that rolled through town from these towers blended with the sights and smells to make an exotic and actually intoxicating expertise.  The day with Ahmed turned out to be one amongst my most lasting recollections of the whole trip.

However, no visit to Istanbul is complete while not a visit to the expansive bazaar, an oversized space of slim streets lined with vendors of all shapes and sizes selling just about something you'll think about.  Passageways were clogged with folks, animals and cars, all making an attempt to create their means from here to there.  Boisterous and endless shopkeepers offered their wares to anyone passing by.  If you saw one thing you liked, you had higher get it then, as a result of you’d never notice that exact stall once more, as I quickly pointed out.  Haggling was expected and needed with several lovely things warrant buying, particularly rugs, pottery, spices and antiques.  Leaving the bizarre was as difficult as navigating through it, as you get therefore turned that you’re unsure where you're after you leave. however the chaotic nature of the bazaar is what makes it therefore wonderful…you will return again and again and never have an equivalent expertise twice.

To this day, I still take into account that initial trip to Istanbul in concert of my most cherished travel adventures, despite the weather. we tend to were young and free, with no cut-off date, and this town on the doorstep of the larger Middle East oozed sensuality from its pores, putting a spell on me that wasn't soon forgotten.

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