Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A Restaurant on the way to Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A Restaurant on the Way to Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A Restaurant on the way to Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Another Look of the Restaurant on the Way to Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Walk Past the Turkish Delight Store, Istanbul, Turkey

Walk Past the Turkish Delight and Bakery, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Holy Wisdom, has been called the greatest house of worship in the Christian and Muslim worlds: Hagia Sophia, the Great Church of Constantinople, a Greek Orthodox basilica, was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in A.D. 537 over the remains of two churches. More than 5,000 architects, stonemasons, bricklayers, plasterers, sculptors, painters and mosaic artists worked around the clock for 5 years to complete the church. People came from all over the world to watch the great dome slowly rise above the landscape and for a 1000 years it was the greatest dome in the world until the Renaissance when Brunelleschi built the dome over the Duomo, in Florence, Italy.  In 1204 it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral. It remained the largest cathedral for nearly 1000 years until the Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.  In  1453 Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who ordered the main church be converted into a mosque. The relics were removed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, His mother Mary, Christian saints and angels were removed or plastered over. Islamic features and the minarets were added. In 1935, the first Turkish president, and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, transformed the building into a museum.  The carpets were removed and the marble floor decorations appeared for the first time in centuries, while the white plaster covering many of the mosaics was removed, revealing the beautiful mosaics still intact.  The plaster had actually preserved them.

Today, Hagia Sophia is a beautiful museum, featuring the best of Christian and  Muslim architecture.

After going through tight security and inspection let’s look at this wonder of the world!

The Fountain at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Fountain at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ottomans added this fountain in the 18th century, when Hagia Sophia was used as a mosque. It was used for ablution, ritual cleansing before prayer, as part of Islamic traditions.

A View of the Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A View of the Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A View in the Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A View in the Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A View in the Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A View in the Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Rooftop Views from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Rooftop Views from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Decorative Pieces  Taken from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Decorative Pieces Taken from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Decorative Pieces  Taken from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Decorative Pieces Taken from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Original Baptismal Pool, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Original Baptismal Pool, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Unearthed in 2010, the immense baptismal pool was hewn out of a massive piece of marble. More than ten feet wide and four feet deep, the pool was used for communal baptisms common in early Christianity.

Intricate Gold Lace Partitions, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Intricate Gold Lace Partitions, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Marble Tiles, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Marble Tiles and Calligraphy, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Huge Chandeliers, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Huge Chandeliers, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The green marble columns carry the upper galleries and provide support to the domes, easing the burden of the buttresses and exterior walls.

Inside Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Inside Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Many of the marble columns were brought here from other, even more ancient monuments and temples.

The Nave of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Nave of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Nave of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Nave of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

To get a perspective of the size of the Nave, Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral would fit within Hagia Sophia’s great dome.

One of Many Icons in Hagia, Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

One of Many Icons in Hagia, Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Icon in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Icon in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Icon over Doorway, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Icon over Doorway, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The religious use of icons, depictions of human figures in mosaics, frescoes and other art forms, were very controversial throughout Byzantine history. Church and political leaders clashed over icons. The public liked the figures, and since most people at the time could not read, these pictures told the stories of the church teachings and emperors used them to bolster their claim to divine power, often depicting themselves as holy figures.

One of Two Winged Seraphims, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

One of Two Winged Seraphims, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

s in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Medallions and Mimber in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The mimber is the pulpit in a mosque used by the imam to deliver a sermon on Fridays or to talk to the public on special occasions. The imam stands halfway up the stairs as a sign of respect, reserving the uppermost step for the Prophet Muhammad.

The 24-foot-wide, leather wrapped, wooden medallions, were added in the 19th century and decorated by master calligraphers. In a church you see paintings of Biblical figures and saints, however in a mosque, which allows no depictions of people, you see ornately written names of Allah and Muhammad.

The Exit of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Exit of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

 

Stone Pieces in the Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Stone Pieces in the Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Posted in Destinations, Istanbul, Photo Travel Themes, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Boat Tour of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, Istanbul, Turkey

On the Boat Tour, Istanbul, Turkey

On the Boat Tour, Istanbul, Turkey

We are out on the boat tour on the third part of the Bosphorus and Golden Horn Tours! It is a beautiful day to sit in the sun and enjoy the ride!  Take your sun lotion! I named the spots that I knew and the rest of the time I was gabbing with my new Australian friends! It is a good way to see all the old and new in Istanbul, eyeing the beautiful homes and palaces along the shore. They certainly love their yachts! Enjoy!

The Start of the Tour at the Docks, Istanbul, Turkey

The Start of the Tour at the Docks, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Restaurant Lined The Galata Bridge, Isanbul, Turkey

Restaurant Lined Galata Bridge, Istanbul, Turkey

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkey

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkey

The Cruise Ships Have Landed!, Istanbul, Turkey

The Cruise Ships Have Landed!, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Ciragan Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Ciragan Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Beautiful Homes Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

Beautiful Homes Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

More Yachts, Istanbul, Turkey

More Yachts, Istanbul, Turkey

The Yachts Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

The Yachts Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ducks, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ducks, Istanbul, Turkey

Private Yachts are All Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

More Boats are All Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

Rumeli Castles (1452), Istanbul, Turkey

Rumeli Castles (1452), Istanbul, Turkey

Baylerbeyi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Baylerbeyi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Kuleli Military School, Istanbul, Turkey

Kuleli Military School, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Ciragan Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

 Istanbul, Turkey

Kiz Kulesi, Istanbul, Turkey

Kiz Kulesi, Istanbul, Turkey

Posted in Destinations, Istanbul, Travel Prep, Travel Tips, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Part 2,  of the “My Best Tip of Istanbul, Turkey” post continues. We are walking  from Pierre Loti Hill down through the Eyüp Cemetery to the boat docked at the pier, that will take us around the Golden Horn. Our tour guide from the Blue Brothers Tours tells us interesting facts and stories about the cemetery and the grave markers.  This is what I learned.

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery is the most sacred cemetery in Istanbul. The mosque was erected by Mehmet the Conqueror, over the tomb of Halid bin Zeyd Ebu Eyyüp, known as Sultan Eyüp, the standard bearer for the prophet Mohammed, also the last survivor of his inner circle of trusted friends.  Sultan Eyüp, while serving as a commander of the Arab forces during the siege of 688 to 659 was killed and buried on the outskirts of Istanbul. One of the conditions of peace, after the Arab siege, was that the tomb of Eyüp be preserved. A little village of tombs blossomed on the site by those seeking Sultan Eyüp’s intervention in the hereafter, and it is still considered a privilege to be buried in the nearby cemeteries. Today it costs more than $50,000 to be buried here. To most people in Turkey that is equivalent to buying a home.

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The tombstones reveal a lot about the people buried beneath them. The older grave markers, those before 1829, are long narrow markers with tops shaped like a turban for the men. The turban represents a pasha; a high ranking person of the Ottoman Empire or a prominent military man, or the turban of a Dervish order. The green painted turbans represent the burial of an Imam. After 1929, the fez shaped hat replaced the pasha turban on the grave markers. The tombstones shaped like a sword represent a soldier.

The Turbans, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Turbans, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Imam, The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Soldier Marker, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Soldier, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The older tombstone markings were written in Arabic. After WWI, when the Ottoman Empire was divided into several new states, and following the Turkish War of Independence, (1919-1922) Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, established the Republic of Turkey, with himself as its first president. The Arabic language was out and the Turkish language was designated the official language. This caused a great deal of confusion in Turkey because for several generations the older people spoke Arabic while the children learned Turkish in schools.

For women, the top of the grave marker can be a tiara, noting a princess, or a head-dress represented by flowers, most often the rose. The number of roses depicts how many children the woman had and the opened rose means the child was still living at the time of her death and if the rose is closed, a child has preceded her in death.

A Woman's Marker, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

A Woman’s Marker, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

At one spot in the cemetery are two markers for two women separated my an empty hole between them. The guide tells the story of two wives of one man. Muslims are allowed four wives. Well in this situation there was the older wife and the much younger wife and all the headaches that could possibly be created between the two women. One day the women decided to end the bickering and their unhappiness by killing the husband. The two women were hung for their crime, and buried in the cemetery plots that their husband had provided for them. However, since it is shameful in Muslim culture to be killed by a woman, the husband was not allowed to be buried there, hence the hole.

Two Women, No Man, Eyüp Cemetery, Isatnbul, Turkey

Two Women, No Man, Eyüp Cemetery, Isatnbul, Turkey

 Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Also, it is popular to have written messages from the deceased placed on the tombstone. Here are some that have been translated.

Stopping his ears with his fingers Judge Mehmut died off from the beautiful world, leaving his wife’s cackling and his mother in law’s gabbing.

O passers by spare me your prayers, but please don’t steal my tombstone.

I could have died as well without a doctor than with that quack that my friends set upon me.

Enjoy!  We are now approaching the boat! Stay tuned for more!

Posted in Travel Prep, Travel Tips, Destinations, Turkey, Istanbul | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Best Travel Tip for Istanbul, Turkey

Pierre Loti

Pierre Loti

On arrival at Hotel Sultania, we were offered a choice of tours to review. We usually prefer to explore on our own, but one tour looked so interesting and the price VERY reasonable, so we decided to do it. I am glad we did, it was one of the best tours we have ever been on!  It was the Bosphorus and Golden Horn Boat Tour. But, it was so much more than that!

The 4 hour guided tour, for 20 euros each, included two hours on a boat touring the Bosphorus, to see the palaces along the shore, and the two hour, “Golden Horn Tour”, which included the historical heart of the city and the the Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul harbors.   In addition, there was a stop at Pierre Loti. The tour also includes picking you up and dropping you off at your hotel at the end of the tour. This is really good because I have been on tours where the tour ended and we had no idea where we were, and had to take a cab back to our hotel. A real bummer!  This tour was excellent!

Since Hotel Sultania is located on a pedestrian-only street we walked one street over with the guide, who came to get us, and realized the bus was waiting for us on the corner. Since it was Ramadan, our guide announced, we would be doing the tour backwards, going to Pierre Loti first. I didn’t know what Pierre Loti was, I thought possibly it was the name of the boat docking area, so I just settled in talking to two Australian women and enjoying the scenery along the way when……….

Following a 15 minute ride we stopped and got off the bus at a funicular on the side of a steep hill overlooking the water. The guide paid our funicular fee and we started up the hill in small glass lifts that offered a beautiful view of the Sea of Marmara on one side and a cemetery on the other. I thought, “Where in the world are we going?”

The View from Pierre Loti

The View from Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

Up the Hill to the Shops at Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

Up the Hill to the Shops at Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

The Restaurant at Pierre Lodi, Istanbul, Turkey

The Pierre Loti Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Steps up to the Shops at Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

The Steps up to the Shops at Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

At the top was a cluster of shops and tables of the Pierre Loti Restaurant (sadly not serving meals because of Ramadan), but the waiters offered soft drinks to us as we admired one of the most beautiful views in Istanbul! We sat at red-checked draped tables under the trees and enjoyed the views with several guests. This is a very popular spot in the city for tourists and the locals.

A View from Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

Another View from Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

Another View from Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

Another View from Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

As we looked out over the Bosphorus, we observed through the view finder on our cameras, a boat making it’s way to the boat dock well below and away from our magnificent perch on the hill.

The Tour Boat at the Dock, Istanbul, Turkey

The Tour Boat in the Distance at the Dock, Istanbul, Turkey

Up Close and Personal, The Tour Boat

Up Close and Personal, The Tour Boat

I seem to remember making a comment that would come back to haunt me, “Well at least we don’t have to walk all the way to the boat.” Soon our guide called us together and told the first story. He would reveal the story of Pierre Loti. Oh, I love stories! I was captivated!

Pierre Loti, a pseudonym for Julien Viand, was a French novelist and naval officer, who wrote books about exotic spots he visited during his naval career and throughout his lifetime. His noted first works were tales of his love affairs; love, death and despair. Other books were travel guides presenting beautiful tales of Islamic life in countries before the exploitation of tourists.

In 1879, he wrote his first book, Aziyadé. It was a story of a love affair between a 27 year-old man with a “Circassian”, harem girl of 18. Many believe this was semi-autobiographical, based on a diary Loti kept during the fall and winter of 1876. Here is the Turkish interpretation of the story as told by our guide.

While Loti was serving in the military in Istanbul, he met and fell in love with a beautiful Circassian woman. They would meet secretly on this hill high above the city. Her family would not approve of her marrying a non-muslim and they were both in turmoil over this.  Aziyadé suggested they run away together and go to France, where he could marry her. The only problem; he had not been quite honest with her, because he was already married and his wife was in France!  After a few months and several meetings in their secret meeting place he did leave, without her. When she believed he was never coming back she married the person her family had chosen for her.

He did come back several years later and was distraught that she had married!  Really, men! Their liaison started up once again, up on the hill. Eventually, her husband suspected something was up and when he found out about her affair with Loti, he killed her. Short and not sweet. Pierre Loti wore a gold ring with her name, etched on the inside, for the rest of his life.  The hill is now a popular overlook of the city, with a restaurant and more shops up the hill, but we are headed down the cobbled path along the edges of the Eyüp Mosque and Cemetery.

The Eyüp Cemetery, istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Fauna at Eyüp Mosque and Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Flora at Eyüp Mosque and Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Yes, I said that right, we’re walking to the boat! The next story better be another good one! It’s about the cemetery and who are buried there!  We’ re off!

Follow me, won’t you, as we explore on the rest of the tour?  Enjoy!

For the Bosphorus Tours; Short and Full see:

Blue Brothers Travel Agency

For reservation please contact your travel agency or hotel concierge.

Alemdar Mah. Alaykosku Cad No 17 D Cagaloglu, Istanbul, Turkey

Tel: 90 (0212) 528 73 74

Posted in Destinations, Food, Istanbul, Travel Prep, Travel Tips, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Istanbul: A City of Contrasts

Hotel Sultania

Hotel Sultania

There are so many planes landing in Istanbul, resulting in not enough gates for them to pull up to. This is the hub between Europe and the Middle East. The workers roll metal stairs to the plane’s exits and down you step; just like in the old movies! A bus awaits to whisk you off to the terminal. Getting a cab to the hotel I was pleasantly surprised to see gardens and gardens of ornately designed floral sculptures; bright contrasting swirls of color in bright poppy reds, pure white, and glossy greens. They were the “Whirling Dervishes” of the landscape and I wondered about the work that went into maintaining them. I couldn’t take pictures that would be any good, through the cab’s window, but vowed I would take pictures of them before I left Istanbul! Istanbul is a contrast and mix of old world and modern, european and middle eastern. I was fascinated with the sights along the way!

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A Glimpse of the Old and New, Istanbul, Turkey

A Glimpse of the Old and New, Istanbul, Turkey

Entering Old Town the cab drivers wait two seconds before they start blowing their horns for the traffic to move! We would later learn that when the traffic is excessive, cabbies refuse to pick up passengers in this area, because they are stuck and not able to move at all. As we got to the vicinity of our hotel we stopped on a narrow, crowded street that our hotel was not located on, and told this was our stop. I was doubtful, until a bellman, opened our cab door, quickly took our luggage and said, “follow me.”  We walked down a cobbled street, turned left, where old men sat in an alcove smoking and talking, and scurried after our bellman to the Hotel Sultania; located at the corner of two intersecting lanes that were pedestrian only.

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Tiny Corner Intersection of Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Tiny Corner Intersection of Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Cross Street of  Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Cross Street of Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

A Look at Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

A Look at Old Town, Istanbul, Turkey

Here we are in walking distance to Hagia Sophia; a church and mosque museum, the Blue Mosque, and the Topkapi Palace: all in the Sultanahmet Area. The streets are a mixture of old world and new, with elegant restaurants, hotels and shopping, scattered among alcoves of old brick ovens manned by bakers providing a bubbly flatbread and shops of carpet/rug lined sitting areas, where the guests smoke hookahs. Men outside the restaurants and establishments, encourage, intimidate, aggressively pursue you to try their wares. It is so alive!  Oh, this is going to be fun!!

Entering the Hotel Sultania, we were warmly greeted at the concierge desk and and made aware of the popular attractions and local events that will be occurring during Ramadan.

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

We were told some places may be closed during the day, but at night the city comes to life, especially at Gülhane Park, where there will be partying after dark. We were shown the indoor/ outdoor breakfast room at one end of the lobby and a rooftop restaurant, one of the best in the city, not to be missed. Then taking another elevator, we were lead to our room. Oh my! I have been in several hotels in Europe, but this was one of the most opulent, depicting a room fit for one of the Sultan’s wives.

The Olga Hatun Room, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Olga Hatun Room, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

Our room was named after Olga Hatun, seventeen year old wife to Sultan Bayezid, also known as Thunderbolt. The room was huge with a terrace overlooking the old city and the Bosphorus Strait. HOWEVER, best of all was the extra large, marbled bathroom and a shower that would easily fit four people!

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Turkish Delight Candy and a Note about Olga Hatun, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

A Tin of Turkish Delight Candy and a Parchment Note about Olga Hatun, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

All the Amenities, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

All the Amenities, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey ( The Mirror is a Flat Screen TV, Don’t Ask Me How This is Done!)

Marble Everywhere!, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

Marble Everywhere!, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

A Square Toilet? Hotel Sultainia, Istanbul, Turkey

A Square Toilet? Hotel Sultainia, Istanbul, Turkey

Unbelievable! After settling in we couldn’t wait to explore our new surroundings!

The Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The New Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

 

The Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The New Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The New Hatay Restaurant is an outdoor restaurant right outside our hotel.  The hosts, stand outside the restaurant, and pull everyone aside, who will listen, to encourage you to look at their menu and food.  I was enthralled with the bread!  Men brought the combination puffy/flat bread from a brick oven nearby that had a line of patrons waiting for the fresh, scorched bread. Then there was the food, so colorful, so exotic looking! And they served wine! Need I say more? We had to try this place first ! A good way to end our first day! Enjoy!

The Bread! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Bread! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Food! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Food! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Color! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Color! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Color! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

More Color! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Food! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

Fresh Fish! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

Posted in Destinations, Food, Istanbul, Lodging, Photo Travel Themes, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge

There are cruises from Venice, Italy to Istanbul, Turkey.  Many of the guests at the Locanda Orseola in Venice were taking a ship to Istanbul.  This comparison of ships gives you an idea of how HUGE the cruise ships can be! Enjoy!

Get To Istanbul by Cruise Ship!

Get To Istanbul by Cruise Ship!

Posted in Destinations, Istanbul, Photo Travel Themes, Travel Prep, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Word a Week: Public Transportation

Instead of sitting on a bench, plop down on your favorite toadstool at the bus stops in Istanbul, Turkey!

Toad Stools at Bus Stops, Istanbul, Turkey

Toad Stools at Bus Stops, Istanbul, Turkey

Posted in Istanbul, Photo Travel Themes, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure

Where will your adventure begin? We’re in Istanbul! Enjoy!

Adventure in Istanbul, Turkey

Adventure in Istanbul, Turkey

Posted in Destinations, Istanbul, Photo Travel Themes, Turkey | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Can I Really Leave Venice Without Getting in a Gondola?

My Ride is Here!

My Ride is Here!

Everyday SB and I  walked along the sidewalk to the large area of gondolas moored in front of the Hard Rock Cafe. There was always a snaking line of excited tourists waiting for the black shiny boats, cameras ready, clicking away, while the gondolier decided who would ride in what boat. I studied the approach to the gondola like an eagle. Walk down the wide, but short, steps to the gondola. Safe. Take the hand of the sidewalk gondolier. Safe. Place one foot in the gondola and take a little leap. Scary. Release hand of sidewalk gondolier. Scary. Walk carefully to the spot you want to sit in. Most scary. Sit. Next person!

I am not good in rowboats or kayaks. I tip them over. I fall out. I can’t get back in when I do fall out. I have been known to get my feet stuck in the mud and not be able to move after falling out of a kayak in shallow water.  An eighty something woman came to assist me for God’s sake! But, I want to ride in one of those gondolas! I have studied them daily for over a week. I can do this! But, let’s do it at night after 6pm when the crowds are gone and no one can see my anxiety or if I actually fall into the canal!

My evening arrives.

I walk down the steps. Good so far! I take the hand of the gondolier as SB tells him how long a ride we want. Good so far! I clutch the camera and leap. Oh, I didn’t fall!!!!!! Terrific! I walk gingerly to my seat and take a deep breath. I am over joyed! I settle in to enjoy and experience the view from the gondola! Won’t you join me at gondola level?

On Our Way!

On Our Way!

Smooth Ride Past the Eateries!

Smooth Ride Past the Eateries!

Swoosh,  Swoosh, Slide

Swoosh, Swoosh, Slide

Oh, how I loved riding in that gondola! At the corners of buildings there was shouting from other gondoliers so we wouldn’t all get to the same spot at once. I could look up at the windows of the casa and imagine mama in her black crepe dress and rolled down stockings, sitting down in the candlelit dining room to a dinner of pasta de mer, wine, and bread.  Of course, she was waiting on and fussing over her son, because he still lived with her at 40.

The Softest of Color Everywhere!

Is Mama up There?

How About Here?

How About Here?

We rounded the bend and made the pass through the Grande Canal and I marveled at the muted, soft colors that kissed the buildings goodnight and tucked them in as the sun began to sink. I was relaxed and thought this possibly one of the most romantic trysts.

Out into the Grand Canal!

Out into the Grand Canal!

Duck Tails in a Row

Duck Tails in a Row

So Much Color!

So Much Color!

The Fancy Gardens at Canal Level!

The Fancy Gardens at Canal Level!

The Courthouse!

The Courthouse!

The Vaporatto Bringing Tourists to Venice

The Vaporatto Taking Tourists to Venice

And then it was time to get out of the boat. The gondolier pulled up to a different set of stairs. Why weren’t we at the place we started from; the nice easy low steps? I looked at the sidewalk gondolier and he looked at me. Oh dear, he didn’t look very sturdy! I stood up and walked to the end of the gondola. Good. I placed one foot on the steep step and one hand in the gondolier’s outstretched one. Good. The gondola slipped away from the docking area and I was doing the splits, one leg on land, the other in the boat! Oh, Oh, Oooooooh!!!!!!  The boat gondolier was frantically trying to get the boat back to the dock. Oh, Ooooooh, Oh! SB was trying to shove my fanny up to the landing.  Ooooooh, Oh, Oh! The sidewalk gondolier was holding on to me for dear life! Oooooooooh! Suddenly, another body grabbed my free arm and whipped me to the pavement! Oh, I could have cried!  I tried not to get hysterical! I laughed trying not to cause more of a scene than I already had.  Another gondolier saw my predicament and had rushed to rescue me. I had no idea where he came from. He wasn’t there when we docked. “You can swim right? No problem!” he laughed.  “Yes, no problem,” I repeated.

So ended my adventure on the canals of Venice, I thought.

On the last evening of our stay the concierge, at Locanda Orseolo, asked if we would mind sharing a boat taxi with another couple, who were leaving the next morning as we were. We didn’t have any problem with that and the next morning there was the couple we had seen several times in the breakfast room. I had watched them in disbelief, when  they checked in with eight suitcases, the bigs ones overstuffed and held together with packing tape, and wondered just where they were traveling to and for how long. Now I watched as their luggage was hoisted down into a speed boat docked at the tiny half door, at the back of the hotel. Did we have to get in the boat that way too? Oh my God! Can I duck down, bend, AND step into the boat? All at the same time? Without falling in the drink? Could the other couple do this? They looked eighty five and frail! Oh my God! Rose looked at me and I knew she was thinking the same thing. “We can do this Rose, I’ll go first,” I tried to look confident. I bent down with one hand holding the top of the door frame and took the hand of the captain and just at that time a wave came along and the boat practically leveled out with the base of that door! Oh my God, I did it! I’m in the boat! “You can do it, Rose, come on!” She too made it. The men jumped on like sailors. The women were relieved to be sitting down.

The Last Door! OH MY GOD!

The Last Door! OH MY GOD!

As we approached the airport dock, my stomach began to do little flips. I just kept talking. Ok, this is going to be Ok, I kept telling myself. And it was. When I stepped to put my foot on the dock, again the wave leveled off the boat with the dock and voila I was on terra firma! No Problem! Thank you and Hail Mary!  We’re off to Istanbul!

PS, For a look into the world of Venice in the past, In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant, is a great read. You’ll glimpse the life of a prostitute and her midget pimp. Now that will make you look at these canals in a new light!

Posted in Books, Destinations, Italy, Travel Prep, Travel Tips, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Last Stroll and a Concert; In Venice

One Last Look at the Canals of Venice

One Last Look at the Canals of Venice

Oh How I Will Remember This!

Oh, How I Will Remember This!

This morning’s stroll is through the Clock Tower entry from St Marco’s Square to back streets we haven’t been on yet. Enjoy our last walk in Venice! These are all the finds I loved today!

The Unusual Squares!

The Unusual Rounds!

Another Fountain!

The Round Fountain!

In the Courtyard of Another Shopping Area!

 The Courtyard of Another Shopping Area!

A Courtyard Area!

The Courtyard 

Just Hanging Out with Puppy!

Just Hanging Out with Puppy!

The Tiny Lanes!

The Tiny Lanes!

The Unusual Eatery!

The Unusual Eatery!

Layer Upon Layer of Casa!

Layer Upon Layer of Casa!

What a Lovely Garden Area!

What a Lovely Garden Area and Retreat!

Smooth and Easy!

Garden on Top and a Smooth Ride!

Get Off the Gondola at your Garden!

Get Off the Gondola at Your Garden!

Now for the evening stroll over to Chiesa San Vidal for the concert, “Le Quattro Stagioni,” by the Interpreti Veneziani! The concert was fabulous and the Church was packed! Follow our walk!

Walking Through Another Square of Venice, Italy

Walking Through Another Square of Venice, Italy. All Pinks, Cream and Terra Cotta!

Here they were presenting some kind of interpretation dance! Perhaps, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”? Only no tulips!

Tiptoe Through the Tulips?

Tiptoe Through the Tulips?

Fairies in the Garden?

Fairies in the Garden? Squash That!

Through Another Neighborhood

A Place to Rest!

Love the Strawberry Colored Building!

Love the Strawberry Colored Building!

Strawberry and Gold Contrast!

Strawberry and Gold!

I waited and watched for over a half hour to get this picture of the Virgin and the Bird!

The Bird and the Virgin!

The Bird and the Virgin!

Outside Chiesa San Vidal, Venice, Italy

Outside Chiesa San Vidal, Venice, Italy

Chiesa San Vidal, Venice, Italy

Chiesa San Vidal, Venice, Italy

Chiesa San Vidal, Venice, Italy

Chiesa San Vidal, Venice, Italy

Interpreti Veneziani

Interpreti Veneziani

One Last Look!

One Last Look! I Love Venice!

Posted in Destinations, Italy, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments