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Istanbul – Day 1

March 28, 2010

First, we drove across the bridge to the Asian side, where we ate Burek (phyllo and meat or spinach) and drank chai next to the Bosphorus.

Then, back on the European side, we drove the shore to see another panoramic view – this time from Starbucks, if you can believe it!

From there, we headed to Beyoglu, a popular neighborhood that we reached by cable car.  Adnan, our guide, told us that the night life here is fantastic – if I were younger, I’d head to Restaurant Row to enjoy…

We set out for Eyup, site of one of the most important religious sites, where the remains of Ayoub al-Ansari are buried.  We arrived at the mosque in the middle of prayers — it was all I could do to keep the camera off and not snap photos of the men and women in prayer… what a site!  It’s were boys go the day they are circumsized – I snapped a photo of one boy in his white fancy outfit — he seemed to know what was up, since he was very upset!

The cable car goes up to the top of the cemetery, where a fantastic panoramic view of Istanbul and a cup of tea await.  We took the cobbled path down the hill, seeing new and old tombstones — very interesting.

Next, the old city wall — we climbed to the top.

We were ready for lunch, and Hamdi didn’t disappoint!  We ate on the fifth floor terrace, and the view was spectacular.  We ate a shepherd’s salad, yogurt and watercress, kebaps,  and more.

Then, it was time to cross the Golden Horn to taste the best baclava in the world.  I must say, I have never had finer baclava!  The kids loved it, too.  There were all kinds — walnut, chocolate, pistachio, and more.

By the time we reached the Hagia Sophia, it was closed.  Instead, we headed to the Underground Cistern.  The Romans kept water here so they could stay alive during extended sieges.  This one, the 2nd largest of 150 in the city, included Medusa heads.

After a rest, we hiked to dinner, recommended by Adnan.  It was supposed to be a decent budget spot, but I must say were disappointed with this meal.

Despite pouring rain, we hiked back and beyond our hotel to the pretty old street lined with cafes.  The kids had dessert and Tom and I had chai.  The tea here is excellent.

A long day, but we got a great overview of the city.  Tomorrow, more sites in the Old City.  Maybe the Grand Bazaar!

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From → Istanbul, Turkey

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