Monday, March 24, 2008

Carousing Constantinople

There were so many Istanbul highlights. Walking into the Hagia Sofia was one of those oh-my-god-I-can't-believe-I'm-getting-to-do-this moments. I hadn't expected it to be so huge, and two levels, and the mosaics so bright and well-preserved. The photograph above is of the De√ęsis (Entreaty) mosaic.

After having a Turkish coffee outside of Sophia to absorb what we'd just seen, we headed off to the Grand Bazaar. Market, jewelry, bags, haggling....and over four square kilometres of it? I was in heaven. We stopped in the middle of the afternoon to fortify ourselves with some kebaps and then continued shopping. (And went back the next day as well.) Best line shouted at us from a stall: "Hey, Spice Girls! I have carpet for your dowry right here!"

Our last day in Istanbul, we walked through the Spice Bazaar (henna!), buying some nuts and tea along the way, before having lunch on the Galata Bridge linking the continents of Europe and Asia. Below is a photograph of Golden Horn, taken from the bridge.

Last highlight: an early evening in a traditional Hamam. Think being naked and sweating it out on a large marble slab plus a very large and naked Turkish woman with a loofah mitt and bucket of water. Yowza!

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