Turkey: Touring Istanbul, part 2

(Istanbul: Part Two)

…Our adventure continues:   

While enjoying the sights and sounds of Istanbul, we also toured the massive and gorgeous Topkapi Palace – called Seraglio – with Canan relaying every fact and answering all our many questions.

Topkapi is a large palace that was the main residence of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years of their 624-year reign. The tiles and colors were breathtaking. After this tour, we could truly envision what sort of life the Sultans had. The spaces were so beautiful and imagining the tapestries, soft pillows and music that would have filled the palace was not hard to do.

topkapi

topkapi topkapi fam

The Palace was built on a former Olive Grove, the site of the first settlement in Istanbul. The land commands an impressive vista of the Bosphorus, Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. Asia is just across the way. The most recent Sultan built a new palace along the river much larger and more ornate (and I think went bankrupt doing so!) so this palace has been a museum since 1924. See Topkapi Palace for more details.

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The palaces and mosques live juxtaposed to and are an integral part of the massive city. Istanbul is home to 22 million people!  The streets are vibrant, busy, full of color.

street scene street2

Also, one cannot talk about culture without including friends and food, as they are without a doubt vitally interconnected…

images-3(Turkish Delight…)turk coffee

During the days, we tried all the Turkish snacks including street vendors selling sesame bagels, roasted corn on the cob and of course Turkish Delight with our afternoon tea or medium sweet Turkish Coffee.

Our lunches with Canan and Nezih were delicious – usually chicken, rice, yogurt water, fresh vegetables, tomatoes … and the friendliest service in each place we went.

turkish food

Each evening after touring, we met our friend Ergin for dinner. He orchestrated our evenings beautifully – one after another of exceptional restaurants – where we tasted the very best in Turkish cuisine on both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.

Our dinners were unique, luxurious and often consisted of fresh fish, octopus, tuna, salads and the sweetest Turkish desserts.

dinner Imres

Our first dinner in Asia with friends, Nazli and Ergin. We began the evening with a gorgeous tour of the Bosphorus River complete with sunset on board Ergin and Nazli’s lovely day-boat…

oli an d mom bosphorus

bosp nazli sophia bosphorus1 bosphorus 2

This was a highlight, to say the least.

dinner ergin

We experienced most of our meals in Europe with the exception of two lovely dinners in Asia. The second of which was with our friend Ahmet and his family. Our families have much in common, in particular we both have beautiful 25 year-old daughters.

Friends are the key to a rich and meaningful travel-life.

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(below) Nezih, our driver and dear friend saw that we were well cared for and watched out for us wherever we went. He helped us negotiate at the Bazaar, the oldest market in Istanbul and made sure we were never late for our dinners with Ergin.

NEZI

The Bazaar was A-MAZING. Huge, exotic. They sold absolutely everything there and we found it intriguing trying to navigate the brash, overbearing, yet still respectful vendors.  We each bought something at the Bazaar and will not forget the experience there.

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…look at Tony’s face as he learns the price of this tapestry! 🙂

We loved the art museums of Pera and Istanbul Modern. In our experience, going to a Modern Art Museum in another country is a direct line – a window – into the current culture of that city. We loved what we saw.

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Here we are with our devoted guide, Canan, outside of the Istanbul Modern Museum of Art.

reys in istanbul

We hope this was not our only family trip to this extraordinary city – full of kind, generous and extraordinary people. We are forever grateful to have had the opportunity.

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