we just came home from a week in a place i really could recommend to everybody!!!

  turkey / istanbul
istanbul is a beautiful city in turkey, located on both sides of the bosporus, the narrow strait between the black sea and the marmara sea. one half of istanbul is on the asian continent, the other in europe. istanbul's population is around 15 million people and the average age of the population is 28.3 years. half of the population is younger than 25, so most of the time we old compared to the majority of the people in the streets or pubs!!!
food and drinks are really great in turkey. the turkish tea (chai) is the national drink and you get it anywhere. we ate many many kebabs in all kinds of variations, but also enjoyed the delicious sweets like turkish delight or halva – and for real starves you got the pretzel-like simit-bread in every street. really a good place to loose weight
  mosques, cistern and palace
- basilica cistern (yerebatan sarnici) it doesn't sound like much, but this giant underground cistern was built in 532 to provide water to the city in cases of siege. even the james bond movie "from russia with love" was filmed there.
- hagia sophia (aya sofya), just 5 walking minutes from our hotel… dating from the sixth century and was over 1000 years the largest enclosed space in the world – the largest church, and became a mosque in the 15th century when the minarets were added.
- sultanahmet mosque (sultanahmet camii, aka blue mosque), with its six minarets and sweeping architecture the 'blue' mosque impresses. this is still a working mosque and we were allowed to go inside, but had to take off our shoes.
- topkapi palace (topkapi sarayi) was the imperial enclave of the ottoman emperors for three centuries. the views from the fourth court over the bosporus are spectacular.
  tulips, fruits and veggies
as it was the international istanbul tulip festival, there were millions of tulips popping up in various parks of istanbul. and for those who don't know: tulips are originally from turkey, not from holland...
  istanbul impressions
it's just interesting how different istanbul is from europe - and still, how many similarities one can find. we just enjoyed the time looking at things like dolphins playing in the bosporus, fish markets, a hen in the restaurant, the happenings in the side streets, visiting eyup at the head of the golden horn is a pilgrims place. we hiked up through the incredible huge cemetery to the pierre loti café and enjoyed the view and the shade under the trees. we saw young boys dressed like little princes, celebrating their circumcision days. from the galata tower you have a 360 degree view of istanbul, including the entire sultanahmet peninsula. the grand bazaar (kapali çarşi) is istanbul's grand old bazaar with an estimated 4400 shops lined along covered walkways. it is said to be the world's oldest shopping mall. the shops are organized around their wares, e.g. the silver jewellers are clustered together, the carpet shops are clustered elsewhere and the shoe shops are bunched together somewhere else. no, we didn't buy anything!!! :-)

on the move
before we left zuerich, we met ben who waved to us from the tower ;) the flight over grabs etc. was brilliant!
to get around in istanbul - from one place to the other - we often took the boat. they travel between the european and asian sides of the city and the crossing takes about 20 minutes – for only 1,30 yeni türk lirasi (so less than an euro). one afternoon we sat along the bosporus and saw lots of dolphins playing around, really close.

most of our time we just spent walking in the small side streets, watching the locals – or the tourists – relaxing and enjoying the scent of 1001 nights…
www.milsom.ch - last update 15.04.2008 ..