Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Love Istanbul!

Fireworks over the Strait of Bosphorus.  An amazing view from our apartment.
I have a friend that I worked with in the U.S. for over ten years... I'll call her Fun Girl.  She's Turkish and back living in her home country, Turkey.  We haven't seen each other in a couple of years and since I'm so close, living in Kuwait, she invited me to hang out with her and celebrate our March birthdays.  Her husband, Shutterbug, who I also know very well, booked an apartment over looking the Strait of Bosphorus.  My hubby tagged along for a few days and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

We arrived on a rainy night and had to walk about a block to the apartment.  Apparently, the place we were staying at, was undergoing massive street reconstruction.  They were paving the road and relaying cobblestone. Glad I wore comfortable shoes!  By the way, if you're traveling to Istanbul, don't even bother packing too many diva shoes.  The cobblestones, roads, and stairs will end up ruining them.  One thing that impressed me , though, is the fact that the workers paved this incredibly long block in a couple of days.  Hmmm... something that Kuwait could learn from...

Our street where we stayed was under construction

Our apartment building was very old; much like Istanbul itself, yet I found it very endearing nonetheless.  As for the 6 flights of stairs that kicked my ass everyday... I was not expecting.  Like I said, the building was very old.  We would all go out and walk, walk, walk. Up and down the streets; seeing amazing things all day and then come back and trudge up those old-ass, curvy flights of stairs.  I was so out of breath and thankful when I got to the top everyday, that I forgot to take a picture of them.  Living in Kuwait has made me lazy and I had promised myself that after I got back from Turkey that I would kick up my exercise routine.  Well, God has got jokes!  'Cause my exercise routine was in FULL effect in Istanbul.  To get around you must walk!  Although there's every mode of transportation available... buses, taxis, ferries, subways.... You still have to walk up hills and stairs and cobblestone terrain to get to transportation!  By the end of the week, I was used to it, though.

Within a 5 minute walk from our apartment was fresh fruit stands offering juice... yummy and nutritious!
Imagine when the flowers bloom on this old rooftop garden ... charming!

The buildings are very old in Istanbul, but I thought the I the mix of old and new textures was cool and artsy looking.
The end of Istiklal Street.  The hub of great shopping and eating.

I loved walking up and down Istiklal Street.

A quaint Mediterranean house on Princess Island.

Getting around on horse and buggy, or bicycle on Princess Island.

A local baker with fresh goods daily.

So THIS is how they get heavy furniture up those narrow stairways!

There's a gazillion cats in Istanbul... but hey,  no rats!  I couldn't resist feeding all the kitties.

Next time, I'm going to try the bikes instead of the stinky horse and carriage to get around Princess Island.

The famous traditional fish boats next to the Galata Bridge.  I highly recommend you taste a fish sandwich here!

Local vendors and good eats near Galata Bridge.  Close to the enormous spice market.

The Bosphorus bridge in Istanbul.  One side is in Europe and the other  crosses the Asian continent.
They were playing/singing "Sweet Georgia Brown"  Theme for Globetrotters.

A boat ride on the Strait of Bosphorus 

I had a fantastic time visiting with Fun Girl and Shutterbug.  I must mention, that on the second night, they took us out (me and hubby) and surprised me with a birthday cake and Turkish gypsy musicians played while I belly danced at the restaurant.  I had so much fun!  I would definitely recommend visiting this friendly city.  Loosen your belt because you will eat great food!   I have yet to post more pictures.  I did get to see the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), the Cistern and the Aya Sophia (Hagia Sophia).  I will post more pictures and video after I sort through them.