Sunday, December 29, 2013

Istanbul, Turkey

We had two fun filled days in Istanbul.  Our boat docked about 1:00 (giving us time to sleep in).  
 We headed over to the Blue Mosque.  On the way, we saw the Egyptian Obelisks at the Hippodrome.  Chariots raced here centuries ago.  
 I had to cover my head and we all had to take our shoes off at the mosque.  
 My pictures did not do justice to the magnitude of this place.  
 The boys loved going barefoot in here.  The Turkish carpets were very soft.
 The blue tiles covering the walls were gorgeous.  
 We only had about ten minutes in here before the 2:00 prayer started.  The entire mosque was used for the men's praying area.  The women got a tiny corner.

Next stop was Topkapi Palace.  This was the palace for the Ottoman sultans for about 400 years.  

We noticed our boat from the deck of the palace.  

This palace was really impressive.  One room had lots of jewels and crowns.   They also boasted that they had Moses' staff (it looked like they chopped it off of the tree outside) and Joseph's turban (it was bleach white and spotless).  I had to laugh.  

Taken from the Sultan's harem. 
Grand Bazaar!!!  This place is massive.  It has over 3000 shops and was built in 1460 AD.  
The boys got souvenirs.
Nate and I did some haggling and scored a nice scarf! 
I did not have high expectations for this place but it was so fun!  
Dinner was the highlight of the day.  We ate at a traditional Turkish restaurant.  
The boys had a blast sitting on the floor pillows (so did Nate and I).  
They also had free wi-fi!  :)
Next door we stopped for some baklava.  OH MY!!  
 It was nice being in a place overnight.  Istanbul was so fun at night!
We woke up early and headed back into town.  We made our first stop at Hagia Sofia.
 This museum started out as a Greek Orthodox church and then became a 
mosque and a Catholic cathedral.  
This large urn was carved from a single block of marble.  
This place was massive, and the scaffolding and sun ruined many of my pictures.  
These mosaics date back to the 9th century.  
 We had a busy day, so we hustled off to the Basillica Cistern.  Nate read about these in Dan Brown's Inferno.  These are the largest underground cisterns in Istanbul.  
 This cistern provided a water filtration system for the Great Palace of Constantinople.  
 There were two Medusa heads in the corner.  They have no clue the origins.  
 We read about an archaeological museum that had many sarcophagi and 
I thought the boys would love it.  
 We were all a little disappointed.  After seeing the mummies in the British museum, it's hard to get excited about a few sarcophagi.  
 We walked through the streets of Istanbul and stopped at the Spice Market.  
 The place was busy.  
 The spices were so pretty!
 Lincoln fell in love with Turkish Apple Tea.  It's an instant drink, 
so we bought him some to take home.  
 We stopped for doners!!
 Lincoln ordered some apple tea!
Our restaurant overlooked the spice market, a mosque, and our cruise ship in the distance.  
 We enjoyed the sunshine a bit before we headed back to the boat.  

We mostly trammed it around the city, but I had the boys get off a stop early to get a picture in front of these cool stairs.  (We also saw a Starbucks)!!!  
Istanbul was FANTASTIC!!  I love this country.

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