Istanbul Mosques, Markets, and Ice Cream

We are loving Istanbul! We walked over 13 miles and 26k steps today! We explored a TON! It all started at the Grand Bazaar. It was much different than we had expected. I was picturing dusty, crowded alleys jam-packed with people and noise and excitement. Definitely not this. It’s grand, for sure, there were so many stores spread out over a big area. It was just so much cleaner and more organized than I had hoped. We were also surprised by the amount of expensive goods – jewelry and high end designers. We figured there’d be more local crafts and cheap souvenirs like the markets we’ve been to in Thailand and Cambodia. From there we wandered up the hill to Süleymaniye Cami, or Suleyman Mosque. So far, this has been our favorite thing to visit – even more than Hagia Sophia (although the scaffolding in Hagia Sophia may have…

Exploring Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and more!

I hope you like pictures, because Istanbul is rather photogenic and we had a lot of adventures today. We started off with a fantastic breakfast at our hotel (Edibe Sultan). It was such a good spread of food with lots of options, all turkish. This was round one. I ended up getting 3 plates. We’re staying in Sultanahmet, which is old town Istanbul. We’re within walking distance to pretty much everything, which is why we chose this location. We started off wandering over to the Hippodrome, which features a few obelisks from Emperor Constantine’s reign. The Hippodrome is a large, long open plaza where they organized chariot races. Next to the Hippodrome is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, aka the “Blue Mosque” although we’re not sure why. We were expecting MUCH more blue inside than this. Women are required to wear a scarf or hijab or something inside the mosque and…