Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ee Wen goes to Istanbul

This trip was taken last November, and I finally blogged about it almost a year later! *gasp* Better late than never, right?

Before I went to Istanbul, I only knew a couple of things about it: 1. It is a European country, 2. It is an Islamic country, just like Malaysia. That's it. !!! I know, I am horrified that that was the extend of my knowledge about this beautiful country too!

A random tidbit: I was reading Dan Brown's Inferno sometime around Thanksgiving and learned a little about some of the landmarks in Istanbul from the book. Through his words, I became really intrigued by this city. After I finished the book, I thought to myself, "Hmm...I want to go to Turkey NOW!" Guess what? I did go to Istanbul the next day!!! Imagined my surprise and excitement when Mr.L told me our flight was leaving for Istanbul {and Greece}. I had no idea! I thought we were going to Iceland {which would have been nice too...if I weren't inflicted by the blasted strep throat}. 

Anywho...Woot woot!! Istanbul was so much cooler than I imagined. The food was delicious--they eat lamb {my favorite meat ever!}! The weather was really mild for winter. We only had about 24 hours to explore the city so we made the most of it--we went out right after we put our suitcase down in our hotel room. Oh, oh, oh, before I forget, yet another random tidbit: Don't offer tips when you're in Europe {well, at least for Greece and Turkey}. Mr. L offered the bellboys tips while we were in Santorini and Istanbul, and each time he was either scoffed, or politely turned down. Since we were staying in the city center {which was a prime location for sight-seeing}, we walked everywhere.

We went to the Grand Bazaar {a gorgeous covered market with hundreds of stores selling spices, turkish delight, beautiful ceramics, carpets, textiles, tea, and souvenirs--A MUST SEE!}, Hagia Sophia {or as the local say, Aya Sofya, which was a church first, then a mosque, then a museum now. You can see wall carvings of Islamic art and Christian art, plus tombs of the Ottoman sultans}, the blue mosque {which is really big and so beautiful. But there really isn't much to see in there, except for the architecture. Women had to wear a head scarf and modest clothing upon entering the holy place}, and the basilica cistern {an underground cistern that was built in the 6th century, but was forgotten for centuries. You can see the upside down Medusa stone head in there. This place is kinda creepy for me...especially after reading Dan Brown's book. We did dress up in traditional Turkish costumes and got our pictures taken in there though}. 

One day was not enough! I still have the Topkapi palace {a harem for sultans and their concubines}, the Galata tower, Ottoman bathhouses, and cruise on the Bosphorus on my list. That means another trip to Istanbul is a must! 

Here are some pictures from Istanbul:

                                                                      GRAND BAZAAR