Ramblings about Istanbul!

I am not the best travel blogger it would seem. I am loving the adventures that I am on but finding time to share stories along the way is proving to be difficult. Any bloggers with tips out there please share! haha.

Here is a bit though on my adventures through Istanbul, five days in this super cool city was not enough. I will definitely have to come back someday. 

The Blue Mosque
On the completion of my Greek adventure, the more personal travel portion of my excursion began. First stop being Istanbul, you hear Istanbul in the news a lot lately often in an unfavourable light thanks to the attempted coup and some bombings that have occurred in the city in past year. So to start I will say this, never at any point did I feel even remotely unsafe. It was a beautiful city with beautiful people an absolute delight to experience from beginning to end. Thanks so much to Danny and Alycia for having me you guys are the greatest.

I arrived late in the evening on the 1st and to my surprise, friends from Regina, Nathan and Amanda were expected shortly after me. Unfortunately, the shortly portion of that statement was negated by heavy fogs on the city which delayed their flight by a few hours. Hours which I did get to put to good use catching up with Danny who was gracious enough to come and meet us all at the airport. It was awesome catching up and was great to get a first hand account of some of the craziness that we hear about in the news. Not to mention the unique perspective he holds from being a Christian in a dominantly Muslim country. Truly an enlightening evening. Though very veeeeery long wait, by the time got home it was 4:30 am needless to say I crashed hard when we arrived.

Waking late the next morning we just kind of hung out till the afternoon when Danny introduced me to Istanbul transit and we adventured downtown to the Kadikoy area. Ok, I say adventured, but for Danny this is just everyday life. Regardless we crammed on to a crowded bus and started our hourish long journey to meet Danny's Turkish tutor in a sweet little coffeeshop in Kadikoy. Kadikoy is kind of the trendy waterfront area, theres a lot happening around here lots of people coming and going. It reminded me of Times Square in a lot of ways. (I found that a lot of Istanbul has parallels to New York, at least in my mind and experience) Anyways, met up with Mahmet tutor, an awesome Turkish guy loves sports and laughs a lot, seemed like a real genuine dude. They dialogued back and forth, mostly in Turkish while I enjoyed a deeeeeelicious coffee. (The Turks do java well) After we met up with and I actually got to meet my roommate from the previous night, Cole. (Neither of us had actually been awake at the same time in the house yet) Good guy, on his own random adventure. Anyways, we hoped the bus back to Danny's for dinner and shut er down for an early night.

The next day was tourist time, Danny was busy so Cole, Myself, Nathan and Amanda, and Mose (one of my friends from EuroRelief who ended up on a long stop over) all took to the streets on our own. To start Cole and I had to meet up with Nathan and Amanda while we were waiting something crazy occurred...

There we are sitting in front of Starbucks when right beside us pops out from behind a van my friend Sean from Saskatchewan! How on earth do you meet someone randomly in a city of 15 million people. I knew he was there and all but we had yet to connect any kind of meeting, just boom there he was haha WILD!

Anyways Sean goes onward to his meeting, Amanda and Nathan show up and we grab some doner from a little shop (SOOOO GOOD)also happen across a film shoot of some sort. After our stomachs are filled we head out on the ferry across to the European side of the city in search of adventures!

First stop, the Blue Mosque, (that's the building in the first picture up top) we meet Mose in the courtyard out front, and proceed to the queue inside, make friends with the random American girl ahead of us, proceed inside and are absolutely taken aback by this marvellous work. I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

From there we would make our way cross the street to the Aya Sofia. Another stunning building the Aya Sofia was built by Constantine as a church but was later turned into a mosque when Islam became the dominant religion and all of the mosaics were covered over. It has since been turned into a museum and the plaster covering the mosaics are being removed to reveal the beautifully preserved mosaics.

Funny story about getting in though...

As we arrive to the Aya Sofia we are met by a LONG line up, obviously looking disheartened a sketchyish looking an calls out to us "You pay cash?" "yes yes we pay cash" "Come, Come, $200 lira, come come" he hurries us toward the front of the line, everyones SCAM radar is going off hard, mine included as he basically pushes us forward while demanding 200 lira, scanning the ticket office as we rush past I notice that it is in fact 40 lira a ticket, 40 x 5 = 200 ok at least the amount is right, my mind justifies. "200 lira you pay me total, pay each other after" he rushes our decision. Not wanting to get scammed but not wanting to wait an hour in a queue I jam 200 lira in his hand grab the tickets and move quickly towards the gate trying in vain to keep my eyes on this random dude who was either our time saviour or just scammed me out of 200 lira. We get to the gate and the tickets... the tickets work! Awesome! Queue avoided, hour saved, thanks so much random sketchy dude.

Inside, well I'll let the pictures speak again, this place was just... WOW

this one has actually been picked away by visitors as there is gold in the mosaics

there is a mirror above the door that reflects the previous image, I forget the significance of this though
Well now wasn't that something else! But we aren't done yet. Onward to the Spice Market! This place was crazy! Shop upon shop of nuts, oils, and candies, but not just any candy... Turkish Delight. Which each shop owner claims his to be the best and shoves it in your face to try. Lol. I actually don't understand how they actually make any money as within 10 minutes of being there I had probably "tested" a dozen pieces of the various flavours of Delight and had a fully satiated any craving I held for sweets.

After touring the market a bit, gaining an education on Turkish Delight we met Danny and was time to close our evening with one final adventure -- DINNER. Dinner tonight would be at a chain type restaurant that specialized in and I think only sold a dish called Iskander. Basically beef on bread, covered in tomato sauce, served doused in butter with a side of yogurt. Heart stoppingly delicious!

The next morning, Danny, his kids, Cole and I would do some local exploring. Climbing (ok we took a cab) to the top of the hill near Danny and Alycia's home. The views from up here were spectacular! The photos don't do it justice. This is such a beautiful city! We had a very Turkish at the restaurant that was up on the hill and made our way home. The afternoon was spent celebrating Danny's tutor and friend Mahmet as it was his birthday. A bunch of us just hung out and laughed for a few hours, was great for me too as my friend Sean is also one of Mahmet's students so we got to connect for a bit. We also took Mahmet for Chinese food, a huge step for this man devoutly Turkish culinary tastes. But he did great, even tried some sushi. (Couldn't get him to try the eel though, maybe next time) Anyways thats all just to show you don't have to adventure half way across the world to put a little adventure into your life ;-)

And that my friends is my Turkish highlight reel.

Till next time



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