I recently spent 13.5 hours in Istanbul, the only city that sits on two continents; Asia & Europe. Of course, I haven’t been to the Asian side. As son as we walked out of the airport and unto the tour bus, I knew I was going to love Istanbul. Driving around, the city reminded me a lot of Lagos. It just looked like a future version of Lagos; because the infrastructure etc is way more advanced than Nigeria’s. What reminded me of Lagos however, was the vibrant culture of the city. Interestingly, this is one city that’s quite advanced and developed, but has also held on strongly to it’s cultural heritage. Like Lagos, Istanbul is the country’s economic, historical, and cultural heart.

What did I see on the tour?

  1. Basilica Cistern. The largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. In the Cistern, the bases of two columns reuse blocks carved with the visage of Medusa. It is widely believed that the heads were brought to the cistern after being removed from a building of the late Roman period. 
  2. Sultan Ahmet Mosque, popularly known as the Blue Mosque, for the blue tiles on the interiors. We unfortunately didn’t get into the mosque because the queues were loooong; but it’s on my list for my next Istanbul trip. I’m also trying to see the largest mosques in the world. So far I’ve seen the outside of the Blue Mosque & the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi
    image via fineartamerica.com

  3. Hippodrome Square; originally built as a horse racing track by the Romans in 200 A.D., now home to spectacular monuments 
    image via nandatravel.com

  4. Topkapi Palace; a UNESCO world heritage site – for the best example of ensembles of palaces of the Ottoman period – unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures in most parts of the palace. It contains the holy relics of the Muslim world; e.g. Prophet Mohammed’s sword
    image via featurepics.com

  5. Grand Bazaar; easily the biggest market I’ve ever been in. This was where we got lost [read all about it here]. Unfortunately in the given time, I could only cover parts of the spice bazaar, and the jewelry bits.

    Turkish Delight
    Pomegranate & Apple Tea

Unfortunately because of time constraints, we couldn’t cover the rest of the tour which was to include the Hagia Sophia Museum, Eyup Square, Galata Tower, Istiklal Avenue, & Ortakoy Seaside. But I’ll definitely cover these and more when next I vista [which will be soon!]. A quickie was definitely not enough! 

Other bits:

Lunch was a rice dish that was very similar to Nigerian jollof rice
I can’t believe the year is already coming to an end! Are you planning any travel over the holidays? And have you started planning your travels for 2015? Please share! I haven’t finalized my list but it’s looking like Turkey, Greece, Macau, Abu Dhabi, Morocco, & South Africa in 2015. I really want to spend New Year’s Eve/New Year’s in a new country/city. We’ll see! 

Damola. xxx

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