What a visit we had! We all desperately needed an urban fix, and we certainly got one in Istanbul. We rented an apartment online in the Galata district but had no idea how close we were to the tower. We arrived at night and immediately went out to explore. Imagine our surprise when we turned the corner and saw this:
The area is bustling at all hours with tons of cafes, restaurants, shops and street vendors. We walked and walked and walked. The boys got comfortable in the area so quickly that they would run down the street and buy themselves fruit or fresh squeezed juice.
Amman and Madaba are not walkable cities and have virtually no public transportation, so it felt like such a treat to wander aimlessly through cobblestone streets, up and down hills, across bridges and onto trams and ferries. We visited the mandatory tourist attractions, but the best part of the trip was just walking with no destination, sitting on benches in parks, and chatting over coffee.
I’m not sure how to organize this post because I have so many thoughts on the trip, everything from recommending the amazing place we stayed, to pictures of the main sights, to existential thoughts on being a tourist. Apologies in advance if this post is hard to follow.
The apartment: WOW! We found it online, which is always slightly nerve racking because you don’t really know what you are getting. Anyone can make a pretty website. However, this place was everything it said it would be and more. If you are traveling to Istanbul, check them out: http://stay-istanbul.com/ The interior of the apartment was perfectly understated charm with hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, and exquisite curved brick ceilings.
The manager, Fuat, went out of his way to help us. One afternoon, an alarm in a neighboring building went off every 15 minutes or so for hours. We emailed the owners, but fully expected that they wouldn’t be able to do anything. Alarms and strange noises are part of city living. However, Fuat not only came over, tracked down the owner of the shop, had the alarm deactivated, but he brought us candy the next day as an apology! He brought us candy! Shouldn’t we have brought him candy as a thank you for fixing something that most would consider unfix-able? Customer service that was truly above and beyond.
On to the sights. I’m not going to write up the historical significance of any of the places, I’m just going to post the pictures like a photo album. Feel free to browse through as quickly or as thoroughly as you’d like. This first batch is from the Galata neighborhood, including views from the top of the tower.
Now, on to the Hagia Sophia. Many of the pictures are from the interior. I’m intrigued by the ceilings, so if the pictures seem disorienting, it’s because you’re looking up.
Next, the Topkapi Palace and the Harem:
Some pictures from the Sultanahmet neighborhood and the Bosphorus from the Galata Bridge, which connects the two areas:
This post has gotten ridiculously long, so I’ll save my existential travel commentary for the next entry. One last family picture for your viewing pleasure: