J’adore Turkey!

On this previous blog, I talked briefly about my experience last summer in Istanbul. Here are some more portraits I took while in Istanbul and the story behind each photo.

4 lira for shoe shine, 5 lira for photo

We found this old man on our way to the Spice Bazaar. We asked him if he’d be willing to pose for us. Using sign language, he managed to inform us that it’s ok, but that we have to pay him. He motioned 5 and I interpreted it as 5 lira. I thought that was pretty reasonable so we started snapping photos. He got mad at us and somehow, in between the Turkish babbling and a maddening look on his face, we realized he meant 5 lira per person per picture. That’s highway robbery! We gave him 5 more lira and walked away. Bah, humbug!

Petting zoo

As a sorry attempt to fend off locals trying to rip us off while waiting for the tour of Hagia Sofia, I took a photo of this lady petting an astray cat underneath a tree.

A walk to the Grand Bazaar

It was a pleasant Sunday morning when we set off to the Grand Bazaar, fueled by the dreams of purchasing exquisite Ottoman silk scarves, exotic mementos and the divinely palatable Turkish delights. Alas, our hopes were crushed when we got near the entrance only to discover that it is closed! During this same time when our hopes were being killed, a vigorous spirit sprung up as soon as we were informed by the same bad news bearer that the smaller Spice Market is open. So, off we went to the next adventure.

Turkish delights

By this, I didn’t mean the good-looking, fashionable men of Istanbul :). They have another form of delight so tritely called “Turkish delight”. We found this beautiful store full of such things while strolling towards the Spice Market. Right across from it was a quaint hotel that serve yet more variety. While we were staring at the window display salivating over the goodies, a young Turk who works in the hotel asked us if we want to try it. We obliged and ordered a sampling of about 6 different kinds.

He was much too sweet, actually sweeter than that mind-numbing sugary block of delight. I think we got him in trouble several times because he was mainly attending to us and was innocently ignoring other customers. My friend and I couldn’t help but joke silently about how the Turks must have worshipped Asian gods in their previous lives, given the disproportionate amount of attention being given to us throughout Istanbul.

Afternoon prayers

I thought this picture captured my emotion on that day while we were hanging out in front of the Eminonu mosque in Istanbul. It was very surreal and touching, despite the busy atmosphere surrounding the place.

The blaring call to prayer was punctuated only by the loud squawking of the thousands of pigeons that have overtaken the front steps to the mosque. They were rivaled only by the sheer number of people, tourists and locals alike, fighting for space inside the cramped market. If you want to really experience Istanbul, Spice market in Eminonu is definitely the place to go. Just keep an eye on your valuables and try not to buy from every single guy attempting to lure you into their stalls using all kinds of trickeries.

Strolling in the courtyard

Istanbul is quite secular and modern for the most part, at least in the tourist spots and areas where we went. It is in fact, uncommon to see women in full black garb, something that I only expected to see in Saudi Arabia. This was one of those rare moments. I captured it while sitting inside the courtyard of the Blue Mosque.

Apple tea

This was taken in the town of Goreme in Cappadocia. We just arrived from Istanbul and decided to walk around town and grab a quick bite for lunch. On our walk down from the chimney cave hotels, we spotted this old man in the neighborhood, obviously having a siesta. I bet he was drinking some form of tea, albeit I seriously doubt that it is Apple tea as we were informed later that those are also called “tourist tea” because the tourists are so fond of them.

Turkish ice cream

We were too naive to cram a visit to Goreme National Park and the Cappadocian region of Turkey in 3 days, including the flying in and out. At the end of a day packed with endless activities which began with a hot air balloon ride early in the morning and ended with on foot exploration of the chimney cave churches, Turkish ice cream was the only thing that kept me from completely passing out from exhaustion and sleepiness!

I’d rather be fishing

After a failed attempt to eat a mackerel sandwich (sadly, the fish has a very strong taste and is too bony), we quietly took satisfaction watching the locals fish on the Galata bridge in Istanbul.

Have you been to Turkey? What is your fondest memory while traveling? What do you think of Istanbul? Thank you for reading!

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