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Day #14: Istanbul

We arrived back in Turkey today. However, while we’re done with the sea voyage, it wasn’t the end of the cruise. Instead, we’re overnighting in Istanbul before disembarking tomorrow.

We left the ship fairly early and walked into the old town, crossing the Golden Horn via the Gallata Bridge. From there, we ticked off the list many sights that we’d missed in our earlier visit: the Spice Market, the New Mosque (which was completed in the 1600s), the Grand Bazaar, the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, and the Underground Cisterns.

While the Grand Bazaar and Spice Markets have a reputation for touting and hassling shoppers / browsers, we didn’t find either to be especially annoying. Indeed, by the standards of Egypt, these people are minor leaguers. Basically, if you don’t engage, they leave you alone.

The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum is the world’s finest museum for rugs / carpets. I’ve always been smitten with Islamic art and architecture — the non-objective, geometric patterns appeal to me. I’m now fairly enamored when it comes to Turkish carpets too. Despite having zero interest previously, I’d now be very tempted to buy a carpet were it not for the facts that the rugs can be very expensive and I lack expertise in discerning  quality and value. That’s not a good combination…


We also enjoyed (most of) a Turkish coffee at the museum’s cafe. The sludge of grounds were a little odd. Clearly, we haven’t mastered the swirling process yet…

The Underground Cisterns are likewise pretty spectacular, despite being designed to simply hold wall. Instead, you feel more like you’re in an ancient  Basilica for the lost city of Atlantis. Like much of Istanbul, the Cisterns feel both familiar and exotic simultaneously.


Tomorrow, we’re up early to fly to London for the last (brief) leg of our trip.

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