Friday, July 6, 2012

Istanbul Highlights

At Yoros Castle in Anadolu Kavagi (on the Asia side) with the Black Sea in the background

In Istanbul we were back to the Europe-Asia border!  The Bosphorus Straight connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, and forms the line between Europe and Asia.

Cruising the Bosphorus was our favorite way to see Istanbul!  The Old City sits out on a peninsula, and from the water you can really take it all in.  We took the public ferry from the Old City all the way to Anadolu Kavagi, a small fishing village at the Black Sea on the Asian side.  After a nice leisurely lunch at a fish restaurant and a steep walk up to the castle overlooking the village, we returned back on the ferry to Istanbul.  It was a perfect day!

At the Bosphorus Cruises Pier getting ready to board our ferry

Another favorite in Istanbul was the Grand Bazaar -- one of the oldest covered markets in the world.  The Grand Bazaar has more than 3,000 shops, and with each of those shops comes a shop owner looking to separate you from your money.  We wandered around the markets for a couple of hours, but we still only saw a small part of it.  What a place!

In front of rugs and tapestries at the Grand Bazaar

An unexpected highlight was the Basilica Cistern located underground in the historic center.  What an impressive engineering feat!  It was constructed in the 6th century to serve as a water reservoir for the the area and can hold over 20 million gallons of water.  Today it hosts concerts as well as visitors.  The lighting was very interesting and the damp cool was a nice escape from the heat outdoors. 
The underground Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

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