Tuesday, July 29, 2008

a fusion of east and west

The blue mosque

A view of the modern part of the city in the background.

When planning my 2 months, Istanbul was not in the itinerary, but it seemed to be the most logical place to access a flight to Almaty, Kazakhstan (which is not the easiest place to get to), so I figured why not.

After my LONG and treacherous efforts, I finally arrive!

First of all, I LOVE it here! At the last minute I sectioned 6 days in this city to just relax about midpoint through traveling and I figured it would have easier, cheaper internet access if anything (which is true!). Upon arrival, I take the metro and tram to the hostel. I immediately get a ton of calls and whistles, let's just say a lot of attention, from the men. Lovely. Suddenly, I am rethinking the 6 days here being a solo female.

I run around the first few hours trying to establish the hostel situation. "Full" was the common answer everywhere. It's really uncertain and a lottery game but in the end it all works out. 6 nights, 3 different hostels.

Raffaela, Jen, Me and Janet on top of the roof of our hostel after breakfast. My partners in battling the city the first few days.

What really allowed me to appreciate this city was that I met 3 other fabulous girls in our ghetto hostel. Instead of being annoyed and bothered by all the snide remarks, we could laugh them off together and also be more secure as a group. Thank you sooooo much Jen, Janet and Rafaella!!!

Day 1: Bascillica Cistern, a dip into the asian side, a walk down the modern street and shopping, and night glimpse.
Jen and I hit Istanbul together.

Bascillica Cistern
Amazing underground aquaducts. Very cool in temp, and a little creepy too.

We grabbed some freshly grilled fish sandwiches at Eminyou pier for 4 Lira ($3.25). So yummy.
Then we headed to Uskudar so that we can ride on a ferry and get a glimpse at Asian side. We seemed to get a lot of harrassment over there too. Nothing too different here so we hung out for about 30 min and headed back to the European side.

Shopping! OK, so things were too expensive in Italy. There was nothing in Greece, Croatia and Montenegro. At last Istanbul - cheaper and some interesting things. So I end up spending quite a bit getting clothes and a pair of fabulous shoes!
The man who made my shoes.
Jen told me about it and saw him make the shoes. I loved them, so now we are shoe twins.

Ittacadesi in Beyoglu. The modern shopping pedestrian street.
Every city has one. We decided to weave through some local neighborhoods and climb a crazy hill to reach it. The good thing about having a companion is that you can go a little (but just a little) bit off the main path. But this crowded street had mainstream international stores.

Blue Mosque at night. We dip out a little into night in paired safety to grab dinner and snap some photos nearby.

Day 2: Markets gallore! And a fabulous dinner and sunset views.
Raffaela, Janet and I take on Istanbul.

Spice market. There were amazing spices, even Turkish viagra (not shown).

The grand bazzar.
It wasn't as crazy as I thought it would be. And we managed to not get pickpocketed and Raffaela even got a glass mouse for free. Interesting. I actually only spent 24 Lira - about $20.

Always keeping safe! Walking around the park.

Me and th asian side of Istanbul in the background at sunset.

Day 3: A walk through the local town and the Blue Mosque and relaxation.
I walk with Janet and Rafaella about 30 minutes to the metro. We go through a lot of the local districts and the metro is a bit in the red light district. I wouldn't do it on my own but with 3 of us we are fine.Interior of the blue mosque. It has blue tile everywhere giving it its name. Prayer calls are loudly broadcasted from here and can be heard at a great distance.

Now I am without my Istanbul girls :( But I still have things to see in the next few days and will be with Jane soon!


janek said...

YAY! Istanbul sounds amazing if a little sketchy with all the attention from the men. But I can't believe I'm going to see you in a few days! Safe travels to Almaty!

Angela said...

can't wait to see you in almaty!soooglda that we are traveling together again! enjoy teh last of korea. at lst we will meet half way around the world.

sharock said...

i want those shoes!

Joy Hui Lin said...

i want those shoes too! i'm so glad that you met up with lots of cool people on each leg. happiness!