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Fabulously Fascinating Istanbul

sunny 23 °C

Istanbul is heaving with tourists despite the war with the Kurds on its southern border and the lateness of the season. One reason could be the weather. While most of Europe and North America is already sliding quickly into winter here it is a balmy autumnal day and the sightseeing boats on the Bosphorus are doing a roaring trade. Here's the view from our window...

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Istanbul probably has too many tourists for its own good at times, however, in a seemingly unco-ordinated move, all three of Istanbul's top attractions are currently undergoing major renovations. Parts of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia and the Topkapi Palace are all shrouded in giant tarpaulins.and the treasury that houses the famous jewel encrusted Topkapi dagger is closed. Thankfully we have visited all these sights before and most of the Ottoman Sultan's Palace was open for business. The tilework is really beautiful - this is one of the many tiled ceilings...

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A little history: The Ottoman Empire was founded in the 13th century in Anatolia, (Eastern Turkey today), and in 1354 the Ottomans crossed into Europe and conquered the Balkans. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by the sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. With Constantinople as its capital and control of lands around the Mediterranean basin, the Ottoman Empire was at the crossroads between Europe and Asia for six centuries. During its height in the 16th and 17th centuries more than 1,500 people worked in the Topkapi Palace kitchens feeding up to 15,000 people at times. Here's a list of menu items from that period...

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We too have been eating well in Istanbul where the restaurant choice is staggering, (and very inexpensive), but, unlike the Sultan and his guests, we did not eat off gold and jewel encrusted Chinese porcelain. Constantinople, (Istanbul) was one of the many great cities on the Silk Road from China to Europe and along with the silk came tea, spices, porcelain and many other products of the Orient. Our next stop on the Silk Road is Tashkent in Uzbekistan, but a great place to check out the products of the Far East is here at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul...

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Istanbul's massive Grand Bazaar was built in 1461 but the original indoor market halls are now the preserve of goldsmiths, jewellers and carpet salesmen catering to tourists – this is not the place for bargains and few locals venture inside...

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However, the surrounding maze of narrow alleyways and covered bazaars are absolutely teeming with merchants and shoppers from all over the world.

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Bargains are for everyone here. Haute couture dresses and three piece men's tailored suits for just $40 Cdn. and luxury brand handbags by the thousand...

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For us - a glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice for a dollar. A hundred dollars goes a very long way here...

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Now we are headed east along the Silk Road to a point exactly halfway around the world from our home. What wonders await us (and you) in Uzbekistan? Time will tell.

Posted by Hawkson 20:21 Archived in Turkey

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Comments

Am in total envy of all the sights, sounds and tastes you are experiencing. Any music? Thanks

by Sue Fitzwilson

It looks quite exotic. The food sounds fabulous.

by Janet

Can imagine how hard it is to hold focus on your camera being jostled in that bazaar.
Note the flag of Turkey everywhere.
Not sure about Mutton and Wheat Berry porridge.

by R and B

I’m looking forward to your photos and comments on Uzbekistan because I just finished reading Land of Lost Borders by Kate Harris. She and a friend cycled the Silk Road!

by Heather Pettit

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