So much has happened that in order to get it written about I will have to do it in small chunks, a few days at a time. We left on Sunday, but just before noon, which was nice because it let us spend time together and get some packing done before we left. We ate brunch in the Oasis with students, cleaned, packed, and then I was able to play a bunch with the kids. It was a lot of fun. The airport experience in Israel is always long, but it was relatively uneventful.
Waiting in the airport for a delayed flight to get going
We arrived in Istanbul and had a bit of a drive to our hotel. The hotel was not super nice, but nice enough. They served us a wonderful dinner with many courses, but it took forever, almost two hours. This prevented us from getting out and doing things in town. We should have just gone out.
Entrance to Topkapi Palace
The next day we went to Topkapi palace, the palace of the Ottoman Sultans. We saw so many cool things there, it was large, impressive, and too much. Julianne and I paid to go into the Harem, which was one of the more impressive parts.
Jul in the Harem
Then we had a wonderful lunch, with many courses, that also took too long so that we had little time for some other things. We did go to a beautiful mosque, known as the Blue Mosque because of its beautiful blue tiles.
BJ, Julianne and I at the Blue Mosque
Inside the Blue Mosque
Julianne and Shelby inside the Blue Mosque
I have to say that the mosques in Turkey are the coolest looking mosques I have ever seen. Most of them are fairly standard, except that they build them large and beautiful, and often have cascading half domes under the full dome.
The Blue Mosque
Plus, under the Ottomans, only a sultan could build a mosque with more than one minaret. Since the sultans lived in Istanbul for a long while, there are plenty there with many minarets, making them very beautiful. Elsewhere in the country we saw mosques that looked like the local architecture. One was a pink house-like building. Another, my favorite, was in a town nestled in the countryside which had alps-looking houses, and the mosque looked like a chalet with a minaret. Very cool.
One of the many cool mosques we saw
We also saw the top of an obelisk there, the bottom half of which I have seen in Karnak in Egypt. It was an interesting obelisk. We had a very little bit of time for the Grand Bazaar.
BJ holding up the obelisk (the upper half of the obelisk)
BJ in the Grand Bazaar
Then we went on a boat ride along the Bosphorus, the part of the straits that leads from the Maramara Sea to the Black sea.
Map of the Seas we traveled around
The Marmara Sea is a little bulb of a sea that is really an extension of the Aegean sea, connected by the Dardenelles (a strait between the Aegean and the Marmara) and the Bosphorus (connecting it to the Black Sea). I love boats and water, and it was too much fun for me. We had a great time, and the countryside is so beautiful!
Jul and I on the boat
View of Istanbul houses from the boat ride
A bridge that spans from Asia (on the right) to Europe (on the left), connecting the two parts of Istanbul. We sailed under this bridge.
We finally ate in a great fish restaurant, and then went back to our hotel.
The Basillica Cistern, a water storage underneath the city
The hotel is right by a big square, Taksim square. We went out to the shops there, Julianne and I, and we walked for more than an hour and never came to the end. It went on forever, with a million fun people and things to see, do, and buy. We bought some of their weird ice cream. It is like it is half ice cream half taffy. Weird, but fun. I like Istanbul: Big, beautiful, variety, life. I wouldn’t want to live there, but visiting is great!
View of the top of Taksim square from our hotel