This post is much much delayed. But its here now!
I have to say from my trip, looking back now Istanbul was one of my favourite places. I’d say my top 3 were London, Berlin, and Istanbul (in no particular order). I definitely have to visit them again one day InshaAllah.
So, I flew in to Istanbul from Budapest with no idea what to expect, and this is what I saw.
So finally I landed and took a tram to a bus to the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul (Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia area) where my hostel was located. I walked through a park.
The park is between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. Its full of people just chilling and snacking and people selling soveneirs its also right off 2-3 streets full of restaurants and shops and whatnot.
Here’s the Hagia Sofia in the background. It was originally a cathedral which was then converted into a Mosque and now its a museum. Inside you can see architecture and art common to both religions including arches, stain glasses windows, decorated walls, calligraphy, etc. More pictures later in the post.
This was my left. And directly on my right was the Blue Mosque.
I love food! hehe Though I have to say, the corn in Pakistan/India is better only b/c this guy didnt have any spices to put on it. It was just salt and butter here.
There were all types of lendors tryign to sell stuff on the path to the Blue Mosque
So inside its a giant hall. Its huge but its all one floor with a massive dome. Tourists and basically anyone are allowed inside except during prayer times. Women are provided temporary scarves they can use when entering if they do not have one. Despite the constant flow of visitors, once inside it just feels incredibly calm. Or maybe its b/c I was alone that I kind of forgot about everyone else around me. I was just in awe of the size of it and how beautiful the building was.
I just like how this (above) pic turned out. Not sure why.
So afterwards I went walking around randomly. For the most part Istanbul is quite safe. There are areas you don’t want to go. But if you stick to the main tourist places, you aren’t going to end up there at night anyways. People do approach you to talk to you though. Most of them are trying to sell you stuff or help you spend your money. So you do have to be a bit careful. But many are just friendly and just want to chat. So I bumped into a few different people as such. And I just walked along with them and came across this. The Galata Bridge. Theres traffic and cars travelling the top side. But the bottom is all restaurants and stores and it looks amazing at night 🙂
So the next day I set out to explore some more and one place recommended to me to see was the Basilica Cistern. This is the largest of several hundred cisterns that lie beneath the city.
The entire bottom had a couple feet of water.
And its not like I was that close, those were big fish!
Medusa head base on one of the columns. Its placed upside (the other sideways) to ward off the power of the gaze.
I then went to Topkapi Palace. A huge Palace compound made up of several buildings. My favourite section there was the Holy Relics section. The Turkish people (Sultans) were in charge of many of the things in Mecca and Medinah and took several items back to Istanbul. Particularly when they felt the items might started to be worshipped by people. So they had stuff like the old door of Kaaba, the old drainage pipes, the jacket of Prophet Mohammed. The swords of the Prophet and the 4 caliphs. The turban of Joseph. The footprint of the Prophet. And the most amazing thing to me was the staff of Moses. Now, is it real? Who knows. In the end it doesn’t really matter. But I enjoyed the moment of awe standing infront of it and imagining. Unfortunately, that section does not allow pictures. But here are some pictures from other sections of the Palace.
After touring the Palace it was time for a snack. And while I’m generally not a big fan of Baklava, OMG it was SOOOOOO GOOD HERE!!!!!! I wish I could have brought some home.
The next day, I visited the Hagia Sofia!
From there it was on to the Grand Bazaar
Ok, I’m getting tired so I’m just going to post soem random pics now.
Overall, I had an absolute blast on my trip! It was almost a month long but it went by so quick. I have to say I was totally exhausted by the end of it and I was ready to come back. But I learned a lot about the places I visited. I learned a lot about myself and that travelling alone can be a lot of fun. I’m very blessed to have been able to do this and InshaAllah one day I’ll be able to go back to some of these places.
Theres tons more I could say. And things keep popping in and out of mind regarding it. The people I met, on the street and the hostel. Getting lost, walking endlessly. But I think this will have to do for now. If you’d like to see more pictures you can check them out HERE. And if you’d like more info you’ll just have to ask me directly 🙂