Istanbul (was Constantinople)

We visited the wonderful city of Istanbul, a city split onto two continents (here I am looking toward the Asia side), that is both secular and religious, and that is awesomely tourist friendly. 

Beauty is everywhere and Istanbul is especially gorgeous. Here is Haggia Sophia on the left and the Blue Mosque on the right 

We visited the two big, important mosques. The first mosque is officially named in honor of Sultan Ahmet who built it in the 1600s, but it's lovely interior all in blue gave it the nickname of the Blue Mosque. This is the first mosque I've ever been in. We took of our shoes and carried them around in bags. And we covered our heads, arms, and legs our of respect. The room is large with mosaic tile all over the wall. 

Just across the way is the famous Haggia Sophia - part Christian, part Muslim. It was first built as a Christian basilica, beginning in 537 and has that general cross-shape inside. 900 years later (and not too long after it was really completed), the church was converted into a Mosque by Ottoman conquerors. Mehmed, the new sultan, did not destroy the Christian art but simply covered it up. Our tour guide explained that the art was not destroyed because Mehmed's mother was Christian and he was a good son. In 1935, it became a museum. It now shows off both Christian and Islamic religious art. And there are a lot of stray cats on its grounds... which I found odd and photo-worthy.

Here we are at the Grand Bazaar. If you enjoy being hustled and harassed, this is the place for you! It's huge and confusing and awesome and has everything you could ever think of. And I was able to get Persian tea set, which was very important to me.

We had some time to wander the city and happened upon these colorful stairs and some proper graffiti. Then we sat in a park near the water and just enjoyed people watching. The Turks in Istanbul seem happy and comfortable and relaxed. Almost they persuaded me to be a Turk.

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul not Constantinople
So if you've a date in Constantinople
She'll be waiting in Istanbul

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