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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 13
Greece, Turkey and Spain


At the Parthenon  
Day 16

Slept incredibly well in the large soft bed. Got up at 7:30 and prepared to explore more of the magic and mysteries of ancient yet modern Istanbul.


Enjoyed a truly delicious breakfast at the hotel – eggs with tomato and cheese, apricots, melon, many kinds of cheeses and olives, fish, figs, raisins, teas and coffees.


After breakfast we walked up the hill to Topkapi Palace. Ran into our friend Salim there.

Topkapi Palace

The Topkapı Palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign.  As well as a royal residence, the palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments. It is now a major tourist attraction and contains important holy relics of the Muslim world, including the Prophet Muhammed's cloak and sword. The Topkapı Palace is among the monuments contained within the "Historic Areas of Istanbul", which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, and is described as "the best example of ensembles of palaces of the Ottoman period."

Carol at the Harem at Topkapi Palace

At noon we left the Palace and took a tram to the noisy, crowded, ancient Grand Bazaar for some world-class shopping.

Instanbul's Grand Bazaar
Carol in her element at the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, located inside the ancient walled city of Istanbul, is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.

Instanbul's Grand Bazaar
Wares for sale at the Grand Bazaar
The construction of the future Grand Bazaar's core started during the winter of 1455/56, shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople.  At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Grand Bazaar already had achieved its final shape. According to several European travelers in the first half of the 19th century, the Market was unrivaled among the markets in Europe with regards to the abundance, variety and quality of the goods on sale. Recurrent calamities, fires and earthquakes have repeatedly devastated the Grand Bazaar.  The last major catastrophe happened in 1894, and was due to the strong earthquake which rocked Istanbul in that year.  The last fires to besiege the Bazaar happened in 1943 and 1954, and the related restorations were finished on July 28, 1959. The last restoration of the complex took place in 1980.

We settled at a café in the Bazaar for coke and hummus, than spent at least 2 more hours wandering among countless shops at the Grand Bazaar. Got lost several times but that’s always part of the fun of exploration.


Exhausted from so much shopping, we walked out of the packed Bazaar and strolled several blocks southwest to the Blue Mosque, where we took our shoes off and entered the majestic and peaceful mosque. We spent some time snapping photos and asking questions. We didn’t want to leave but it was soon time for the evening prayers.

Istanbul's Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque is also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque The mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. The Mosque was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. While still used as a mosque, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque has also become a popular tourist attraction. It was fully packed the afternoon we visited it.

David at the Blue Mosque

At 3 pm we walked out of the Blue Mosque, put our shoes back on, and walked past Hagia Sofia, towards the Bosphorus and stopped at the hotel for tea and sandwiches.


At 5 pm, Carol joined about a dozen other hotel guests and was treated to a Turkish cooking class, led by our young hotel host Ramazan. The group made several Turkish dishes and after the class we all sat in one of the hotel dining rooms and enjoyed the results.

Carol enjoys a cooking class at the hotel

During the dinner we visited with Paula, Theresa and Karen who are exploring Istanbul and are traveling next to Cappadocia.

Paula, Theresa, Karen, Carol and David

After our delicious dinner, we walked around the area near the hotel and enjoyed the cool evening air with breezes wafting in from the Bosphorus, the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara


By 10 pm we were fast asleep after a full day of exploration in this ancient, mysterious and important city.


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