22 July 2007

That's nobody's business but the Turks

The last trip that we made was to Istanbul, getting back last Sunday night, somewhere that I have been wanting to visit for many, many years. I had to go there for a work conference during the week, and decided to take a few extra days off and convinced the Very Understanding Girlfriend to come over and spend the weekend there.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't what I experienced when I got there. Istanbul is an amazing, bustling European city, with about 14 Million people and an average age of 25. It really is a blend of east and west, with minarets rising over designer boutiques, with fashionista's arriving to restaurants by speedboat as the evening call to prayer echos across the Bosphorus, and with an energy that pulses through all aspects of daily life, it truly feels like a cross between Madrid and Jerusalem.

The weather was a balmy 32C, but without the humidity I was expecting. We spent most of the weekend exploring Sultanamhet, the old European part of the city, with the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia (The photo above is the Blue Mosque, as seen from inside the Hagia Sophia) and amazing underground cisterns that stored the city's water supply in Roman times. On Saturday evening we crossed the Bosphorus on a ferry reaching Asia in 10 minutes, and watched the sun go down over Europe while sipping chai. On Sunday we returned to Sultanahmet and explored Topkai palace.

Istanbul is an incredible place, and I know that we really just saw the tip of the iceberg.

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