Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Snow in Istanbul

It is just as well that it snowed our last day in Istanbul. The place was so beautiful, I was loath to leave it but for the fact that the weather turned COLD. Here are some random pictures of snow there - everybody said it was rare for it to happen.

These are views from our hotel room:

On our way to the airport:

At the airport:

The Bosphorous Tour

The Bosphorous or the Istanbul Strait is a channel of water separating Europe from Asia. We took "The Bosphorous Tour" where a bus came to our hotel to pick us up.

Our all-day tour included:
The Spice Bazaar

The Golden Horn which is a historic inlet or estuary which is the point where the Bosphorous enters the Sea of Marmara.

A boat tour on the Boshphorus strait

 We saw a lot of historic buildings both on the European side and the Asian side of Istanbul. The buildings are very well maintained and some of them have been converted to offices and universities.

Had a Turkish family with very cute children on our tour.

We stopped for a delicious Turkish lunch in between. They had great vegetarian food, desserts and coffee. We then drove on the Bosphorus Bridge from European Istanbul to Asian Istanbul.

The tour took us to the Beylerbeyi Palace (the summer residence of the Ottoman Sultans withe the original furniture, and wonderful gardens) on the Asian side.

The Camlica Hill (the highest point in Istanbul from where you can get a panoramic view of the city and the Bosphorus) - we couldn't get any good pictures here since it started raining really heavily.

The shopping included a fashion show at a leather coat shop.

 Even though it was a rainy and cold day, the trip was well worth it since we were able to get an overview of Istanbul in the short time we had there. Our guide was a humorous chap, spoke good English and made it all quite entertaining.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is truly GRAND. Although it can be viewed as a shopper's paradise by most people, to me, it was a wondrous site and a photographer's paradise - I would have been happy to go "window shopping" all day long. It is the world's largest covered marketplace with "58 streets and over 1200 shops" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Bazaar,_Istanbul.

Sufi Whirling Dervish

No visit to Istanbul is complete without going to see the "whirling dervish." It is a form of Sufi worship/ meditation where they have people literally whirling/ spinning around to song and music. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sufi_whirling.We had bought tickets earlier in the day and went in a bit early to the place which also was a pretty restaurant. We were served hot apple tea before the event.

The music itself was very soothing - almost sleep-inducing, since it puts you in a trance, just like it does the dervishes. You can also watch it on YouTube by searching for "whirling dervish."

After the show we walked out into the COLD... We found a perfect place to have our dinner - the lady made these hot pancakes, almost like our paratas. It was made with potatoes, spinach, cheese and meat. It was great to sit in front of the warm "tava" (they call it the same!) and eat the "paratas" hot off the pan!