Istanbul – around the ancient city

The skyline of Istanbul, like much of what we saw in Turkey, is a mass of minarets.  The most famous is the Blue Mosque with its magnificent 4 minarets.  It is visible from most of Istanbul.

We visited just before evening prayers, late in the afternoon, when shards of light came in through the beautiful windows.  It is a quiet place, fit for contemplation.

By contrast Hagia Sophia, the 1600 year old Byzantine church, which was converted to a mosque by the Ottoman empire, is a tourist mecca.  Tourist season had hit Istanbul by the time we got there in late April and after queuing for more than an hour to get in, we were amongst thousands visiting.

We enjoyed the Golden Bazaaar, but found it much tamer than our previous visits in the 70s.  There wasn’t the anxiety to sell, nor was there the bargaining as most items were offered at “fixed price”.

Istanbul, once the gateway to the east, felt more like a modern western city.  The transport was efficient, cheap and well used. Food was inexpensive and restaurants felt clean and safe.

And yes, the Pudding Shop still exists, riding the wave of “once famous”.  They, like many other restaurants don’t serve alcohol, however their coffee is still good.

Sights of Istanbul, Blue Mosque, etc