A Few Amazing Hours in Istanbul

Fishing sardines on the river
Fishing sardines on the river
Ferry boats on the river
Ferry boats on the river

DSC00348We are back in Bella Italia and still I haven’t posted on a few beautiful hours we spent in Istanbul enroute from Hong Kong to Venice.  We had a twelve hour stopover that allowed us the time to ‘feel’ Istanbul once again.  We arrived there on the first day of the   protests in Gezi Park.  We were blissfully unaware of any disturbance and took our time wandering over the bridge from the spice market, watching the fishermen pull up sardines in the early morning light, the river busy,  choofing with ferry boats.  We had a gorgeous breakfast on the other side of the river, on the waterfront in the sun, eating hard boiled eggs and beautiful bread and fresh tomatoes and cucumber and olives and goats cheeses.  mmmm.

Pidgeons outside the spice market
Pidgeons outside the spice market
Old lady selling food for the birds
Old lady selling food for the birds
buying seeds
buying seeds
dried peppers and aubergines...
dried peppers and aubergines…
olives
olives
meaty bits
meaty bits
the morning's catch
the morning’s catch
dried fruits
dried fruits and nuts
more dried food
more dried food
fresh produce
fresh produce
spices
spices
dried aubergines and peppers
dried aubergines and peppers
spices
spices
market
market arrangement
the spice market
the spice market
dry fruits
dry fruits
tea sets
tea sets
outside the mosque -a place to wash your feet
outside the mosque -a place to wash your feet

DSC00389

shoe cleaners
shoe cleaners

We wandered back through the spice market buying delectable dried fruits before hopping on a tram that took us to the Grand Bazaar.  It’s a wonderful place, the Grand Bazaar.  I feel like we get a glimpse of history and culture through the amazing assortment of crafts and old finds, like swords and helmets and ancient jewelry, but also the rugs and glass lanterns, the exquisite embroidery on old costumes.  And the ceilings are wonderful.  Some of the vaulted ceilings are ancient.  They are in their unmasked brickwork and their shapes remind me of Rover Thomas paintings from the outback of Australia.  Very earthy.

in the grand bazaar
An alley in the grand bazaar
old knives and jewelry
old knives and jewelry
Amber
Amber
old crucifixes
old crucifixes
old jewelry
old jewelry
antiques
antiques
Tea time in the bazaar
Tea time in the bazaar
shoes
shoes
great painted vaults
great painted vaults
cleaning the light
cleaning the light
cleaning the light
cleaning the light
pipes
pipes
old brick ceilings
old brick ceilings
brick vaults
brick vaults
antique shop
antique shop
helmet
helmet
old lights and shields
old lights and shields
more beautiful old things
more beautiful old things
still in the antique shop
still in the antique shop
antique dress
antique dress
antique dress
antique dress
beautiful old embroidered clothing
beautiful old embroidered clothing
exquisite embroidery detail
exquisite embroidery detail

Coming out of one of the many entrances or exits of the Grand Bazaar, we chanced upon the Burnt Column. It was constructed in 330 AD on the orders of the Roman Emperor, Constantine, to commemorate Byzantine.  It has really been through the wars, it has been through earthquakes and fires and the crusades and their pillaging and it is probably about a third less in height, yet its presence is awesome, monolithic.

After this unexpected find, we took the tram back down to the waterfront, where we once again got on the bridge to find our tucker.  Wonderful.  We specially ordered sardines as we had seen them fished that morning, along with baba ganoush and hommus and olives and tomatoes…. and a lovely cold beer before we made our way back to a very crowded and stuffy airport to await our flight home.

our meal on the bridge - Michael
our meal on the bridge – Michael
fresh sardines
fresh sardines

6 Comments

  1. Your pictures brought me back to this extraordinary city…..was there in 1998 with my daughter. Our hotel was close to the Great Bazaar, and we went there every day after visiting other sites….we loved Istanbul. My daughter’s two ” best ” friends are Stambuliots, so every evening we had
    dinner with them in places we would never have found by ourselves!

    I enjoy your blog very much, and admire your art!

    1. Oh, lovely, Catherine! We love Istanbul – we want to stay longer to experience more – it is such a rich culture and there is so much history wherever you walk, to say nothing of the ‘sites’. How lucky to have an inside story with eating there too! Thanks for your comment!

  2. Dear Michael and Shona we fell in love with the Spice Bazaar too having spent only three hours and wanting more. There is a air of Ali Barbar, mystery, whirling Dhervishes mixed with the heady pungency of turmeric in Constantinople . So glad you had a fab time there. Xxx Paul

    1. Paul – we had the best time! I remember you saying how much you loved the spice market and you and Judy were in our minds both time we have been there – absolutely true, Ali Baba and the flying carpets, magic lanterns, genies….. beautiful! xxxx

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