News from Istanbul!

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (AKA the Blue Mosque) near our hostel
Wow, we've been here just about a day now and already have stories piling up.  After nearly missing out red eye flight because of weather and other ridiculous delays and then spending more than 6 hours sitting on the tarmac in New Jersey waiting for the snow to stop, having to refuel the plane (before even taking off) and countless other hiccups we eventually did make it safely to Istanbul!  Also, a huge shoutout to the lady who blocked everyone behind me on the plane in Newark so I could get off and find our next plane in the less than 15 minute window we had before it was scheduled to take off- you were awesome! Our hostel here is in an absolutely amazing area of the city with the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque visible from one side of the terrace and the sea from the other.  The cultural differences here are obviously quite interesting as well.  One particularly unexpected difference that we quickly encountered was on the metro/tram system heading into the city center from the airport. People were so quiet, it was nothing like America and honestly nothing like any other European country that either of us have been to.  Ken and I were trying to be quiet but still found ourselves being the loud ones which probably doesn't surprise many of you at home ;)

Day two has been full of exploring the city and after a cloudy and chilly rooftop breakfast, turned out to be warm (to us anyways).  We are literally treated like celebrities here, all the locals assume that we are rich just because we are American.  As much as we try to hide it, we stand out like sore thumbs here for a multitude of reasons.  Not the least of which is that we were 2 of only a handful of people in the entire city wearing t-shirts.  60 degrees is warm to a northerner, apparently not so much to the locals who were bundled up in leather jackets and even some stocking hats! In certain areas of town, Ken and I instinctively switch to Spanish to try and hide our true identities to the local street peddling merchants which has worked surprisingly well! Another dead give away is sunglasses - one local called me James Bond today because of my 'rockin' shades while another wanted to wear them!  Walking through the amazing Hagia Sophia was an incredible experience, especially after watching movies like Taken 2, Skyfall and of course Argo.  The 1500 years of history in the former church turned mosque now a museum and historical relic is truly an unforgettable few hours for a fair 25 lira.  We also went through the Blue Mosque with our own personal guide (who even took my camera to places where only muslims were allowed to go!) which is a beautiful building, but much more impressive from the outside than in IMO.  Finished the day walking through town, passed through the Grand Bazaar which is essentially one of the oldest malls in the world with literally thousands of shops selling everything from jewelry to hand made chess sets to spices.  The prices supposedly are very high and the entire system is set up to barter.  Ken and I don’t need to do much shopping here, and don’t really have the room in our bags for it even if we did so we just passed through and kept exploring other sights like Sultan Suleyman’s mosque on one Istanbul’s many hills.  We finished the day sitting in the park with views of the Blue Mosque at dusk eating some AWESOME Turkish pastries.  

In slightly over a day here, it already feels like we have done and accomplished so much.  Its hard to summarize everything in just one post or a few photos because there is so much here to experience and see and we are just trying to take it all in one moment at a time.  Even as I write this, the Muslim call for prayer is broadcasting outside (which you can hear from essentially everywhere) and its just one of those moments where you have to sit back and be thankful for having the opportunities to see the world and experience things like this first hand.  Tomorrow’s agenda looks like its calling for the Topkapi Palace and perhaps heading over to the Galata tower with a visit to the Asian side a possibility as well!  Its been awesome so far, I hope this gives you all a little taste of what we are doing here. James Bond signing out.


  1. It sounds simply amazing. That photo is breathtaking! Cannot wait to see many more photos!!

  2. Absolutely beautiful!!! We feel as though we're there with you! You have a wonderful way of enlivening all the senses with your vivid descriptions. We're looking forward to your next post!