Istanbul: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar

On our second day in Istanbul we got to the Blue Mosque during prayer time and were told to come back in an hour and a half. We did find it interesting though that there were tons of foot-washing stations outside but were not sure why they only seem to be used by men.

Anyway, we walked to the nearby Hagia Sophia where we spent about an hour and a half. That might be more time than we spent in Notre Dame even though my wife and I agree that Notre Dame was more impressive. Hagia Sophia is certainly unique though. Plus we had to kill some time anyway and get our money’s worth (admission was 20 Turkish Lira each).

Then back to the Blue Mosque where the line of people waiting to get in was quite long. It moved quickly and got pretty interesting when we reached the lady who was trying to induce a panic by yelling quickly, quickly, quickly in a pretty urgent voice as we approached the area you take your shoes off. She even encouraged pushing people out of your way and was happy to demonstrate.

The Blue Mosque itself was cool but I’m glad it was free and we felt 10 minutes or so was plenty. The outside is awesome and i certainly want to see that again but have no need to go back in.

Then it was time for lunch but we wanted to walk out of the touristy area. That’s not easy in Sultanhamet but somewhere near the Grand Bazaar we think we found a place where some natives were eating. Then we went back to the Grand Bazaar and out a different exit so were totally lost. We did see some cool stuff as we walked around asking which way to Sultanhamet and the Blue Mosque.

Interestingly, the Blue Mosque doesn’t really work for asking directions but Hagia Sophia does. We think we walked through the spice market at one point and saw a lot of streets with few tourists on them so that was cool. We also ended up at the New Mosque which was quite nice from the outside.

My wife’s back was hurting so we had to reschedule our whirling dervish “Mevlevi Sema Ceremony”. I ended up doing some work and going for a walk where I got a kebab wrap for dinner and some small oranges for dessert. In America I called them Mandarin oranges, in Korea we call them gyul, here they called them tangerines. Who knows? But they are fresh like in Korea (much better than the canned ones I used to eat in the US).

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  1. Sharon says:

    They were probably tangelos…a cross between grapefruit and tangerine, but much sweeter than a tangerine. Often called honeybells!

    If you go back to the Grand Bazaar, you could get some worry beads for souvenirs. Definitely Turkish and Middle East culture. I regret not getting some when I was in Greece. Besides, they would be easy to pack, mail, etc.

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