Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

February 2009 : Istanbul

Istanbul had been on my famous wish list for many years. In fact, as with neighbouring Greece, I'd never set foot in Turkey prior to the winter of 2008/09. So when the opportunity arose to join friends Ross, Phil and Lewis for a long weekend there, the temptation was far too strong to resist. Sadly, the weather was absolutely foul : bitterly cold, windy and, for most of the Saturday, raining heavily too. We made a creditable effort at sight-seeing, considering the horrid conditions, but it was inevitable that our original ambitions in this respect proved to be unachievable.

In spite of that, it was a most enjoyable trip, thanks to the excellent company.   I think I might have felt a bit miserable if stuck on my own in such adverse conditions.

Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar - a network of covered streets that serves as a giant market - is one of the must-see sights and experiences of Istanbul. It's all good fun, the 'hassle factor' being towards the mild end of the scale.

Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia dates from the 6th century AD and was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, as well as being the mother church of the Eastern Orthodox tradition of Christianity. Often wrongly referred to as St Sophia's, the name actually means Holy Wisdom (of God). It then served as a mosque for around 500 years, before becoming a museum in 1935.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)

This is the national mosque of Turkey and, together with the neighbouring Hagia Sophia, it is one Istanbul's main tourist attractions. It is often called the Blue Mosque after its interior decor. As our visit unfortunately coincided with a prayer session, however, we didn't manage to verify this for ourselves!

Ferry to Asia

Istanbul is probably unique as a city that spans two continents. We couldn't resist the opportunity to take a 15-minute ferry ride to Asia.

Base : Crowne Plaza Old City