Saying goodbye to Israel and Jordan we boarded our Egypt Air flight to Istanbul. Arriving right around peak-hour and getting stuck in traffic and started to absorb the sudden difference in our location. We made our way to the Asian side of the city where we would spend 2 days before heading over to the Europe side, the side where most of the action is with the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar and so much more.
With our first two days near Taskim Square on the Asian side of the city we were confronted by poor weather. Still, we managed to take a few walks where we found some very tasty Turkish Delight and some other traditional deserts and a few glimpses of the other side of Istanbul.
The main street on this side of the city is so busy we were told it gets up to 5 million people walking through the many high end shops, bars and restaurants. We can vouch for that too because every time we were there, day or night the street was packed.
On one of our nights there I ventured out on my own as Jen was a little under the weather and managed to get lost for a while after going and having a beer and a shisha. Eventually I found my way back onto the busy street and back to our hostel but it was great fun as I managed to find lots of tucked away places on the winding streets where the locals hang out and eat. While our stay on this side of the city was good we soon realised we needed to be on the other side of Istanbul to experience the real wonders of the city and with the flowers in bloom we hoped for some sunny days.
Once we made it to the other side and to our hostel, Cordial House Hostel the weather improved and we had an amazing couple of days. Dumping our bags and heading into the maze of stalls under the Grand Bazaar we found all sorts of characters selling rugs, trinkets, clothes and scarves, all the while sipping on Turkish Tea. The Turks always seem to have a cup of tea nearby. While the Grand Bazaar certainly is just that, GRAND! we were a little disappointed at the quality of goods for sale, much of it was the same and looked like cheap souvenirs from China. However this did not dampen the spirit of the place which is full of life and an overload to the senses. Smells, sounds and sights flood the bazaar, which is all we really wanted anyway and we spent a few hours meandering though the streets up and down hills getting lost in it all.
Stay tuned for the next episode in Istanbul where we will uncover the beauty of the Mosques and Topkapi Palace.