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23 October 2015

travel | istanbul, day three

we woke up in a bed made out of heaven, and decided that we'd never be happy because even the comfiest bed in the world was impossible to sleep on. it was like, too comfortable, if that's even a thing. we readied and left, keen to spend our last full day in the city exploring all the things we'd missed in the first two days. up first: istanbul's grand bazaar and it's several thousand shops. known to be one of the oldest undercover markets in the world, we'd been hanging to get there and spend all our monies, so planned to do that on the last day so we could budget accordingly.

as it was, it was nothing like the bazaars we'd been to in other countries, and it ended up being a lot more tat than quality goods. to be expected in the outside and local markets, but we weren't expecting it in the largest of them all. we were whelmed, to say the least, but did both end up buying some apple teas to send home, as well as real turkish delight for friends and family. did i buy anything for myself? no i did not. well, unless you count the selfie stick and coin purse needed to separate all the many monies i had in my purse. 

nevertheless i'm glad we went, as it was something i was really looking forward to whiling all the hours away in. because that didn't happen, meant we had more spare time to have a long lunch on our way to our next destination: sultan ahmed mosque.

we'd been in the square the day before when the call to prayer begun, and it was the most incredible thing i've ever encountered. it's such an awesome sound - the ezan being called from the hundreds of minarets from across the city, and certainly the loudest place of them all was in the square between the blue mosque and hagia sophia, i used to find the tonal call kind of frightening - but i suppose we can just call that ignorance now, because after being in that incredibly religious city, and hearing the prayer no less than five times a day, it's probably now one of the most awesome sounds of my memory.

and the blue mosque? very blue. and very, very big. but, no more impressive than the suleymaniye mosque from the day before, and certainly no more blue. so i'm not entirely sure why this mosque gets all the blue glory over the others. it was certainly more well-policed than the others, with official tourist information and guards and both the entrance and exit, but i would still maintain that the smaller of the three that we visited was definitely my favourite. and smelled a lot less like feet. (guess that's the price you pay when you enforce millions of visitors to take off their shoes in 30 degree weather)

from the blue mosque we headed on to the basilica cistern - a terrifying place to consider being trapped in in the dark, but thankfully the lights stayed lit while we were in there. i'm not entirely sure what... i mean, i can't really explain what this thing is, so it's best you read about it here but, i  will say this: scary as hell. i'm not claustrophobic at all, but i am scared of the dark, and what! it's a legit fear!

we didn't stay there too long, thankfully, and on the way out and back to the hotel we definitely stopped by the food market on the golden horn for some of the most incredible honeyed doughnuts we've ever tasted. like, balls of dough, covered in honey. covered! they were so good, and so tasty, and i need to find somewhere in london that sell them. anyone? help?

and on our last and final day in istanbul, we got lost. ok, i got us lost. no correction, i got us to the place i thought we were going that ended up to not be the place rebekah thought we were going. so, lost. but in our lostness we did manage to make it to the valens aquaduct, which is most definitely not a wall. if it's the old city wall you're looking for, the aquaduct is not what you're looking for. we then walked quite a bit far away from where we should have been walking in search of a starbucks, for wifi, so we could find the place we truly meant to be at. except the starbucks was in a mall, and there was only wifi for turkish phone customers. so.

in the end, we jumped on a tram back to the square, bought some gross corn on the cobb, stood eating it all in the rain, then headed back to the hotel to grab our shit and head to the airport. very early. because it had basically been raining all day, and we were wet through, and bored of being lost and walking in circles, and because it was time to go home. so home is where we went.

i tell you what though, istanbul was a fricken experience. i'm so glad we went and i got to see it now while i can just about hack the heat and walking, and i'm so used to crowds and people who don't give a shit whose way they're in or who they're pissing off. i'm glad i got to see it with a bit of life experience behind me, so i could truly appreciate and understand the meaning behind everything, and the importance of the culture. 

basically i'm so glad i got to see istanbul for my birthday. so very glad.
have you ever been? what are your thoughts?

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