So, I'm supposed to be in India at the moment...But I got stuck in Istanbul. By my own doing. After the 10 hour flight from Toronto, I was worn out. It was 7am EST, and 1pm in Istanbul. And I didn't sleep between the two cities. The airport had not assigned a gate at to my final flight to Mumbai yet, so I found a nice cozy bench and curled up for a nap. I even set an alarm to wake me up before my flight boarded. Apparently I was pretty tired, because I woke up after my flight left (and the alarm had been going off in my pocket for an hour). After talking to the airline, and realizing it would be extremely pricey to get on the same flight the next day, I just decided I'd camp out here for a few days and see some of Turkey. I love being able to do that, turning a mistake into an opportunity. The perks of flexibility.
Istanbul is a very modern city. The people are warm, most things are in Turkish and English (convenient for me, although I don't understand why they would translate everything), and the food is great. The public transit system is really nice, it's easy to navigate. Some of the foods I've tried are turkish gyros (called doner), roasted chestnuts, Turkish Delight, lamb kebabs, fresh squeezed orange and pomegranate juices (mixed is the best), various breads, cheeses, and cured hams. The tea and coffee is about as good as it gets anywhere and it's hard to not buy everything in these markets.
Since Istanbul is between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, there is plenty of fishing going on. Just about every edge of land near the water has at least one or two people with a fishing pole at any given time of the day. Most of them are on the bridge between sections of the city (pretty much 24-7). So there is a lot of seafood to try. There is also a ton of street food everywhere, which is my favorite. I rarely go to a restaurant to sit and eat when there are street food options.
Being a predominantly Islamic city, there are mosques everywhere, and BIG ones. So far, I've been to a good chunk of them, and spent a lot of time with my camera in my hand along the water front. I also took some time to visit the Spice Bazaar, which was interesting. And I've done my fair share of eating. Tomorrow I'm going to check out the Asian side of the city and the side that I'm staying on (which I haven't because most of the larger Mosques are on the south peninsula (Fatih), I'm on the north west or Beyoglu).
I leave Wednesday for Mumbai. This has been a nice little detour, although an expensive one, considering the extra plane ticket I had to buy and that the exchange rate isn't as good as it is to other places. But worthwhile none the less. If you are interested in traveling to the Mediterranean countries, I'd say it's worth staying for a day or two to explore. And I've been told (by a Turkish guy) that the smaller cities down the coast are even better.
As a side note, I finally figured out how to get my photos sharp for web display. It's called output sharpening in Lightroom. I had turned off (doh!). Now it's set to high. Extra crispy photos from now on. Here's some from the past few days. I'll try to get another post in before I leave with some more pics. If not, then soon after I get to India. Enjoy!
Oh and you'll never believe what the balloons are for: it's the equivalent of a gun range for the police!