August 7, 2012

Holiday photos: Istanbul

I'm back! Did you miss me? :D I'm kicking off with a holiday post immediately, simply because our belgian weather hasn't allowed me to take proper outfit photos yet since I'm back. Boo!
I'll just start at the beginning of our trip: Istanbul! I must say I was looking most forward to this part of the holiday, and I wasn't disappointed. It's a vibrant city that is standing with one foot in Europe and the other one in Asia. Thanks to its geographical position, it has been a cultural and historical center for centuries, and this has left its mark throughout the city: mosques, palaces, churches, old markets etc. We could easily have stayed a few days longer because we haven't seen half of it yet. Anyway, less talk & more pictures! I took over a thousand photos (again), so I made a small selection - otherwise I'd still be talking about this holiday next year :D Enjoy!

We arrived in the late afternoon, so we decided to start with a boat tour on the Bosphorus river.

Aya Sophia

The Sultanahmet Mosque or Blue Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in Istanbul.

Topkapı Palace, built during the 15th century for the Ottoman sultan and his harem.

Quite a few Marilyn moments there!

Rüstempaşa Mosque: one of the smaller mosques in Istanbul, but equally magnificent! For an Arabic and Islam student like me, this city was like heaven :D

Non-muslims always had to cover up their head and legs, out of respect.
The next day we crossed the bridge to the other, more modern side of Istanbul.

The famous Pera Palace hotel: this is where the Orient Express travellers spent the night! 

The Chora church, filled with gold mosaics.

of course we had to have the typical Turkish dürüm for lunch!

Of course I saved the best for last: shopping! Istanbul has two big 'bazaars': the Egyptian bazaar, where you could get fresh spices, tea and stuff, and the Big Bazaar or Kapalıçarşı where you could get almost everything: ceramics, cashmere scarfs, jewellery, leather goods, tea sets etc. It's an adventure to walk through this Bazaar: not only do you get lost very quickly, but the merchants are constantly trying to get you to buy something ("Have a look!" "Special price for you!") and as a red-haired girl, I was the target of shoutings like "Hi lady, very nice" "Are you from paradise?" and got called Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, Shakira,.. :D Definitely a boost for your ego, haha! I bought a handpainted mug and some bowls, I'll show them in another post.

When I heard one of the biggest shopping malls of Europe is in Istanbul, I had to go there! I know it's kinda stupid to go to Zara in Turkey, but they had a huge store with most sizes still available (trying to get a popular item in a size 36 during the sales, it's normally almost impossible) and good sales! I scored a mint sweater for less than 10 euros. I wanted to buy the entire store (as usual) but my wallet and my already heavily loaded suitcase didn't allow me :D
Hopefully you made it to the end of the post! I'll try to limit the holiday posts to five or less, because I noticed when I blogged about my trip to Morocco a few months ago, the posts became superheavy and it took me two months to show all the photos :D I'll probably post some extra photos on my facebook page, so if you're interested you could have a look there. See you soon!
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