Monday, April 30, 2012

Princes Island, Istanbul April 15th, 2012

view of blue mosque and hafia sophia from ferry boat

view of asian side of Istanbul

must be fun to sail so close to istanbul

as we got close to island

second largest of princes island

late 1800's ottoman style ferry dock in Buyukada which is where we disembarked

it was the greek orthodox Easter Sunday and these cute flower tiaras were on sale all over the island

Splendid palace hotel on largest island of Buyukada

wonderful, huge wooden homes on island

reminded me a bit of some new england mansions

so pretty!

great views of asian side of istanbul

only way to get around on island was by horse and buggy, or on foot -no cars allowed

the sea gulls follow the ferries as people feed them, made the ride quite interesting as they dove into the water for the tiniest speck of bread. incredible sight they must have.

mosque next to Istanbul modern museum

this is such a wonderful pattern in iznik tiling and the Turks have more or less adopted it into their national emblem for tourism advertising now

great modes of transport in istanbul: boats, ferries, trams, buses etc.

after heavy touring we all deserved to relax at the glorious old Pera Palace, where agatha christie wrote "the murder on the Orient Express". The passengers in the 1800's who would arrive by the Orient Express would all stay in this stunning hotel. On my first visit to Istanbul in about 1998 this is where the Scott and I and our boys stayed.

Susan and I making the most our birthdays - any nice place and we are willing to use our birthdays as an excuse to celebrate

inside of hotel


hotel domes

finally all four of us in a photo at Zubeyir restaurant in Beyoglu area. fun dinner

yummy meze

love these lamb chop legs sticking out and it was delicious!

some kind of sticky dessert with kaymak (clotted cream) on top

roasted quince with kaymak. we had these almost every night for dessert!

view of princes island from the top terrace of our hotel

hard to resist taking photos of blue mosque!

scott checking out the sea of marmara from hotel terrace

view from other side of terrace of hagia sophia

one never tires of looking 

what a dome!!
Scott and I took a ferry over to the Princes Island for the day. Great bargain- wonderful ferry ride over (about 1 hour) for 5 turkish lire, about $3.00. Ferry ride back was 1. 5 hrs, as it made more stops and was 3 turkish lire, about $2.00! Even if one doesn't get off at islands it is worth it.  During the byzantine period, princes and other royalty were exiled on the islands, and later members of the Ottomans sultans family were exiled there.  During the nineteenth century, the islands became a popular resort for Istanbul's wealthy, and Victorian era cottages and houses are still preserved on the largest of the Princes' Islands, Buyukada which was the one we visited. Don't think I would mind being exiled there! We went for a very long walk on island till we got tired and then flagged down a cart/horse which took us up near the monastery and then back to ferry port. lots of fun

more of Istanbul (grand bazaar) april 14th, 2012

church of hagia irene on topkapi grounds, need special permission to go in and we always put that on our list for next time. the second ecumenical council was held here in 381 which upheld the nicene creed. church was rebuilt in 537. was used as an arsenal during ottoman period.

month of april is tulip (lale) festival in istanbul. the plantings were out of this world.

very pretty historic street just off topkapi grounds in center of town!

Scott and Boyd enjoying our lunch at the Gazientep food counter in the grand bazaar. was really good, especially the salad with the pomegranite molasses dressing.

then came the hard work, buying rugs at hasan's shop (only place to go) in the grand bazaar.  Susan in action.

we settled on this one. lovely green wheat design and I loved the square shape

hasan, scott and a helper

such great cotton towels in wonderful colors
Saturday we wandered a bit, tried to get into dolmabalce palace but line was too long. Went to the Istanbul Modern Museum instead which has a stunning setting on the Bosphorus, as for the art, I'm not much of fan of modern art and this didn't change my mind. Met up with Susan and Boyd in Grand Bazaar for a fun lunch and rug purchasing. Afterwards we wandered in the spice market as the rains started. Fun dinner that evening at Hunkar in Nishantasi neighborhood with friends, too bad it was raining, as it would have been fun to wander in that very European feel neighborhood.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Istanbul, Turkey April 12-13th, 2012

turkish fabrics are beautiful

Church of St Sergius and Bacchus, also called little Hafia Sofia was built in  527-536 by Justinian and was used as a model for Hagia Sofia, converted into a mosque 1506-13, is now a UNESCO site. Justinian built it as a thank -you to St. Sergius and Bacchus from saving him from a probable death.

inside of church/mosque is an octogon shape in a quadrilateral

another view, dome rests of 8 pillars. was also used as model for the Rustem Pasha mosque (see below)

an abandoned byzantine/ottoman  bath

the always glorious, hagia sofia church built by Justinian, was consecrated in 537 A.D, then became a mosque after 1453, is now a museum. For hundreds of years this was the largest dome in the world.

such fun lamps

Hafia Sofia so glamorous at night

another closer view

Blue Mosque at Night

Blue Mosque in the day, only mosque with 6 minarets. The 6th one is hiding there on the left

our traveling companions for a few fun days

 for the adventurous you can always get some grilled fish on the street

same grilled fish stand with a beautiful display of fresh veggies. owner was taking great care to get it looking just perfect.

buying a simet (bread like bagel) from the simet vendor who very gracefully bends down a bit while you choose your simet

 we took ferry up to the end of the golden horn in Eyup. view from top of hillside in Eyup.

an ottoman house in Eyup

and another

our on the run gozleme lunch, freshly made flat bread ( you can see where it is made and lightly cooked on a griddle behind ) and ours was  stuffed with a feta like cheese. vey good.

always lovely Rustem pasha mosque hidden in the spice bazaar, another Sinan creation which was based on the church of St Sergius and Bacchus.

gorgeous Iznik tiles in mosque

and more

our hotel had a fabulous terrace with views of the sea of marmara on one side and the blue mosque/hagia sofia on the other. one could spend hours just staring. Princes Island is what you see in the background ( next post on that one)

pretty ottoman homes at the port in Arnavutkoy where we dined with friends one night at their lovely home

view from their home

2nd Bosphorus bridge which is lite in changing colors at night

first Borphorus bridge which when lite at night reminded me of a zipper. The colors were always changing.
First day in Istanbul we arrived around 4.30 p.m. and went out wandering.  We went into the church/mosque of St Sergius which was under renovation for years so this was the first time we were able to visit it. Really lovely. We wandered, gazed endlessly at the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia as well as at the busy Sea of Marmara and Bosphorus. We had a fabulous dinner at Maya.  Second day we took the ferry up to the end of the Golden Horn, something we had never done, and rode the little cable car to top of hillside to see the view. We wondered around the Eyup area of Istanbul which was buzzing with action as it was Friday during  prayer time in the mosque. Extremely crowded. Eventually we wandered back to hotel and met up with our friends.  We all got on the ferry for the 40 min ride to our mutual friend's house for dinner in Arnavutkoy and to celebrate Susan's 60th birthday! What could be better?