Well, it is our last night and we are all packed and ready to go. Not so eagerly awaiting our 2:15am wake-up call :( We have definitely enjoyed our vacation time - full of relaxation, leisurely breakfasts, lots of walking, tons of good food and plenty of calls to prayer! We are both so glad to have had a few extra days to enjoy after a busy few weeks in Uzbekistan.
Istanbul is an interesting city - full of so much history. But an odd mix of Christian and Islamic ties. Early March is definitely not an ideal weather time to come, but great for less tourists. Shoot it was much like Oregon - overcast skies and rain much of the time. We had a great experience, but we did not get used to being harassed by EVERY merchant/restaurant we went past. Every time...."Yes, please" or "Excuse me, let me spend your money" or "Lady you drop something" - it got to be kind of funny waiting for the next line they would use to try to get us to stop...funny it never worked. Needless to say we weren't huge fans of The Grand Bazaar and preferred the more quiet streets where we could shop in peace.
We hit all the main sites - Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia (church/mosque/museum), Archeological museum, Topkapi palace, Chora church, Istiklal street, Galata Tower, the old city walls, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Galata Bridge and of course a Turkish Bath. One of the most surprising things was that many of the "churches" had been converted to mosques at some point in history - so it was a strange mix of both religions. We definitely appreciated Turkish cuisine - we had grilled fish (the whole thing head, bones, tail and all), turkish tea/coffee, baklava, turkish delights; however we did opt out of trying the water pipe.
Let us tell you a bit about a Turkish bath. Torri was the most nervous about this part - as she doesn't like her face wet or "dead" body parts (aka hair, nails, skin, etc.). But we went to a bath that was recommended in serval books and was known for serving us tourists :) It was...lets just say an interesting experience. It definitely deserves a full description in person. Our biggest surprise came from the lack of modesty that exists - not among us bathers but among the attendants who are washing you. Oh the memories made....
We are both glad to have all 3 suitcases coming home with us - I think we are shocked at how many things we bought...especially food items! Hopefully our bags are not too overweight :)
Thank you all so much for your support before and during this trip. Hope you enjoyed some of the stories and pictures that we were able to share. Pray for a safe flight and see you all back in Oregon :)
Steph & Torri