After our whirlwind introduction to Istanbul via tour bus on the previous day, we were eager to explore the city on our own. We slept in, had a leisurely breakfast with a beautiful view, and then set off by foot to experience Istanbul. Our first stop was, of course, the Grand Bazaar! My sister-in-law, Hannah, and I were thrilled to have some girl time!
Hannah and me in front of the Grand Bazaar!
The Grand Bazaar was an exhilirating and, at times, overwhelming experience. Picture a shopping mall on Black Friday: a sea of shoppers and enough merchandise to make your head spin. Inside, we found wall-to-wall people bustling through a confusing maze of endless shops. We stayed close to Dan, his parents, and Peter knowing that it would be nearly impossible to find eachother again through all of the twists and turns of the Bazaar.
Bargaining is an art form in Turkey, especially at the Grand Bazaar. Hannah is a natural! She picked it up right away and was barganing like a pro. Together we made a pretty good shopping team! In the picture above, we are trying to bargain with a jewelry salesman.
Dan and Peter with the Column of Constantine.
After shopping in the Grand Bazaar, we left and walked to the Column of Constantine. The Roman Emperor Constantine placed this column here when he dedicated his new captial of the Roman Empire (Constantinople) in 324 AD. Legend has it that underneath the column is buried sacred relics, among which are: the axe Noah used to build the ark, St. Mary Magdalene's flask of oil she used to annoint Jesus, and fragments of bread from Christ's multiplcation of the loaves.
After several fun purchases and lots of window shopping, we were ready to find some lunch!
This man is carving meat from a doner kabob. This rotisseri style meat (either lamb or chicken) is extremely popular in Turkey. The tasty meat is either served over raw veggies, in a sandwich, or as a wrap.
After lunch, we visited the Spice Bazaar. We found the Spice Bazaar to be even more crowded than the Grand Bazaar! The air was filled with the overwhelmingly strong aroma of spices. We shopped, bought some spices, sampled some Turkish Delight, and soaked up the array of colors and textures on display.
Above: A rainbow of dried fruit, dried veggies, powedered-sugar-coated Turkish Delight, and spices.
...And even more Turkish Delight, dried fruits, Turkish teapots, candle holders, and bowls.
I love the boots on the top row! If money grew on trees, I'd own a pair in every color.
Tea leaves! The Turks take their tea very seriously. Once, during a conversation with a Turkish woman, she referred to the Lipton tea bags as "dust in a bag" in disgust. I can understand why. Their tea leaves are so fresh and flavorful!
Large blocks of Turkish Delight!
The deep red block on the left is my favorite: pomegranate pistachio.
After shopping, we left the Spice Bazaar in search of some fresh air and a snack! The photograph above shows men washing themselves before entering a mosque for prayer. In Islam, a person is required to pray five times a day. They are summoned to prayer by a religious leader singing the "Call to Prayer" from a minaret of a mosque. Before praying, they must wash all areas of their bodies that are exposed to dirt or smog (face, hands, feet, etc). I found the following washing guidelines on http://www.allaboutturkey.com/pray.htm:
- Declare the intention that the act is for the purpose of Worship and purity.
- Wash the hands up to the wrists three times.
- Rinse out the mouth with water three times preferably with a brush whenever it is possible.
- Cleanse the nostrils of the nose by sniffing water in to them three times.
- Wash the whole face three times with both hands if possible from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the chin and from ear to ear.
- Wash the right arm three times up to the far end of the elbow and then do the same with the left arm.
- Wipe the whole head or any part of it with a wet hand once.
- Wipe the inner sides of the ears with the forefingers and their outer sides with the thumbs. This should be done with wet fingers.
- Wipe around the neck with wet hands.
- Wash the two feet up to the ankles three times beginning with the right foot.
Finally, we stopped by a Turkish ice cream cart for an afternoon pick-me-up. Turkish ice cream is made with salep: finely ground dried tubers of locally-found wild orchids. The salep makes the ice cream extremely chewy. It is very unique!
After our long day, we grabbed some dinner and headed back to our hotel. Our hotel was a cozy, charming little spot just down the road from the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. In accord with Turkish culture, they treated Peter like a little king and brought him warm milk every evening before bed. Peter adored the attention from the hotel's barista, Sedat, who concocted the steamy, frothy milk. Peter spent as much time as he could with Sedat, watching the colorful fish swim in the hotel lobby's fish tank.
|A view of the sun rising on the Hagia Sofia from our hotel|
The next morning we were on an airplane back to Adana.
Our nine days of adventure in two countries proved to be an unforgettable journey!