13 months

Jun 6:
almost famous
Jun 11:
raising eyebrows
Jun 14:
speedy banana
Jun 16:
friendly stop in yenice
Jun 24:
the low down
turkey gallery
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rock formations
Cappadocia, Turkey; Jun 18, 2005

istanbul (not constantinople)

  Use these buttons to listen to the call to prayer (in Arabic) while you read.

Five consecutive flights over 4 countries and 33 hours of travel time later, we arrived dusty and exhausted in Istanbul. We added Turkey to our itinerary on a whim just a week ago and I didn't really know anything about it except that it was foreign, exotic and that sultans once lived here. I wasn't at all prepared for what we've seen so far.

The airport is very modern and stainless-steel slick. It's very clean - much cleaner than anywhere we visited in South America. We drove into town along a, beautiful stretch of Manmara Sea harbor. It's crowded with cars and traffic-y but even the Mercedes-clad taxi drivers are courteous with each other. It's Sunday and the park along both sides of the road is crowded with picnickers, large family gatherings, barbecuing, playing softball, football (soccer) and listening to live music. Lots of women are in a mix of contemporary clothes and headscarves.

Istanbul skyline (Aya Sofya Mosque on the left, the Blue Mosque on the right)

The driver turns into our neighborhood, Sultanahmet, the center of tourism in Istanbul. It's filled with cute cobblestone streets and has two massive mosques in view with carpet shops lining both sides of the road. We step out of the car and are hit with the delicious sweet smell of something in the air we can't quite place (warmed cloves, cinnamon?).

Turkish women in Sultanahmet

A bit later we embark on our traditional Day 1 wander-through-the-neighborhood walk and quickly discover that Istanbul is a treat for the senses:

  eyes: the visuals here are just nuts; the colors are beautiful and the buildings are out of a crazy tale
  ears: the call to prayer from many mosques at once, several times a day – it’s like surround sound times five
  nose: the food, incense, etc.
  mouth: yum!
the Blue Mosque lit at night

And to top it all off, the weather's perfect - dry and just cool enough for a light jacket. We pass by a whirling dervish (no, not just whirling down the street, but performing at a small restaurant). We choose a small café, and the food is delicious – stewed lamb, Turkish tea, yummy grilled veggies. Afterwards, we buy some baklava and Turkish tea cookies at the bakery (this place is gonna make us fat). We're exhausted, but we can’t wait to get up and get started tomorrow morning.

I didn’t know I was going to be so excited!

© 2004-2012 susan & grace, all rights reserved

-- comments from readers --


Istanbul is the most beatiful city in the world. Everybody should come and see it because i know if you come and visit our country, you change your life style.

--Erhan K. (Turkey); Jul 1, 2006


I agree with your comments on Istanbul, we were just there a week ago and this place is amazing! The people are very polite and are willing to help you out if you even the least bit lost wandering the streets!! The food - wonderful, sights are amazing. I am all ready wanting to go back. I wish I would have had more time there, next vacation will be back packing Turkey for sure. We felt safe wandering around both day and night. I can not say enough great things about this place.

--Jillian C. (Calgary, Canada); Jun 5, 2006


I must say it's excellent website. While I am still undecisive to North of Italy or Turkey. Your Turkey itineary invaluable information in the website just help me to decide to Turkey.

I would suggest Turkey government should present your a commendation for the best Ambassador of Tourism. Any how, I will try my best to take the Turkey trip with my son aged 10 in the coming July/August for two to three weeks, depends.

Last not the least, thanks so much for your invaluable information.

--CT (Hong Kong); May 5, 2006