Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Trip Report #1, Istanbul

First of all, let me say what a wonderful trip we had and that we all enjoyed to the fullest!
Europe is an amazing place where you cross borders, change languages and experience different cultures in the blink of a right turn signal and a drive off a ramp. I love the easy going freedom of this type of travel. Throughout our journey we traveled by planes, trains and automobiles :)

As you recall, my son left on a Wednesday for his school trip to Switzerland. My husband, daughter and I left on Friday for Istanbul. We stayed overnight, more to not miss connecting flights than to really visit Istanbul, but nonetheless, we took the opportunity to show our daughter a little taste of Istanbul.

We stayed in a lovely small hotel steps away from the Blue Mosque. This mosque is the only one that has 6 minarets. It was explained to us by a gentleman that followed us around the whole mosque explaining things, that the Sultan wanted gold minarets. In their language, gold and six are two extremely similar words, and the architect understood six. The sultan was extremely upset over this, though there was not much anyone could do about it since it was already built. Wikipedia has a different version in it's explanation, including that there is another mosque with 6 minarets!
(click on the italicized words to see their version)

I have to say that I find certain parts of different religions very intriguing. I like to learn little bits and pieces of them. For example, here is a piece of the carpet that the Muslims pray on in the Blue Mosque. I never knew that the pattern on the carpet was for a purpose besides to look pretty! It is meant to help you know where your feet, knees, hands and head are meant to go in a typical Muslim prayer.
Feet, standing, on the darker red circular shapes, knees, when kneeling on the bluish circle with the X shape, hands on the open flower with the empty circle and head on the center flower:

There is a Muslim rule that says one must be clean to pray...so this is a special fountain where the Imam (similar to a priest) can wash their feet

Of course, our lovely guide led us to his family's carpet and pottery store. Of course you are not obligated to buy, but truthfully, this man's store had some lovely carpets and stunning pottery. We did not buy anything as it would have been too much to carry on our 2 week journey, but I could see stopping back here the next time we are in Istanbul! (we usually use Istanbul as our connection on our flights). We wandered around the lovely smaller market and were amused by this store of hats.

There were beautiful scarves everywhere and we bargained for two for myself and my daughter. We love our pashminas, and have a wonderful memory of our little stopover in Istanbul.

My daughter found us a wonderful restaurant. The owner had lived in the US for a few years and we all had a lovely conversation. There I had a delicious dish that was similar to a stew with vegetables and meat...it came out flaming!

Everywhere you can find these beautiful mosaic lights, of which we bought two. When my husband and I stopped in Istanbul previously on a cruise, we had also bought one of these. I guess when you have 3 or more of one item it start a collection?! They are all so colorful, and I even think it would be fun to have them like in this picture above a dining room table, or even above an island in the kitchen..(hint to my hubby!)

There is so much more to tell about our trip, but this post would get very long if I tried to fit it all into one. So keep watching for further updates!
It also then will give me time to remove some photos from my computer...
I took over 1,000 photos in two weeks, YIKES!

Here are some last views from our hotel:

Spring just starting to arrive:


mythopolis said...

Oh wow! So colorful and exotic....I would have a sore neck trying to look at everything and soak it in!

FancyHorse said...

Beautiful photos, and I learned something! I never knew that about prayer rugs!

BLOGitse said...

You seemed to have great time in Istanbul!
Beautiful pictures...waiting for more!

Nicole said...

What a beautiful mosque!
That trip indeed sounds great :)

lailani said...

I enjoyed reading this! My stepdaughter is going there for 17 days in May - she now has a boyfriend from there, whose sister is getting married.