Venturing to Asia, er, Southern Europe no wait…in Istanbal you straddle both. This week was the start of a 10-day cruise on the Mediterean Sea. Starting in Turkey and ending in Venice, Italy.
Eight time zones since leaving home the cab ride from Ataturk Airport (named the Mustafa Afounder of modern Turkey — into the “Olde City” section of Istanbal felt like a scene from Bourne Identity. Especially since it was late afternoon — very dark. My traveling companion closed her eyes while I soaked up the atmosphere. The shadows of ruins ran parellel for our drive. Istanbal sparkled with thousands of lights that shot out of vehicles, shops and ships.
We arrived at our destination — the Azade Hotel tired, but exhilarated by the drive from Ataturk:
This establishment was modest in size, quaint in design and exotic in appearance and services rendered — this was a door to the bathroom,
and the breakfast choices–cheeses, meats, olives, breads, fruits, honeycombs to sweeten cereal, tea or coffee:
my breakfast selections:
and the view from the room facing the Bospherus near the Golden Horn:
Venturing into the local street markets prior to meeting our guide the sights and smells were very foreign:
throughout Istanbal one sees hundreds of tea and spice shops, or
outdoor restaurants (some with Hukka pipes),
various types of kabobs — goat, lamb, beef and chicken
and sweet shops that sell fruit/honey based candies called “Turkish Delights” as well as an assortment of nuts:
Hiring a guide persuaded me to venture to the local markets or bazaars. So as a primer I walked some of the streets around the hotel for 10-15 minutes. Soon the real adventure would begin — imagine a “fallen” Catholic enjoying such an “alien culture”.
Blue and Sofia Mosques — here I come!