The Exotic Istanbul

Istanbul is a magical city that will quickly cast its spell on you shortly after you arrive.

We started our day visiting the Dolmabache Palace  on the bank of the Bosphorous. While we certainly admired the things we saw in the palace; we were particularly impressed by the serenity of the gardens outside the palace. What a bliss it was, sitting on the benches in the garden, looking through the tall white ornamental fence by the Bosphorous strait; watching ships passing by under a blue sky.

The Blue Mosque acquired its name from the more than 21,000 distinctive blue tiles that decorate the interior. Gazing at the magnificent Blue Mosque , we couldn’t help admiring at marvels of architecture and the vastness of the column free space.. . . . . the Blue Mosque can accommodate 10,000 worshippers. No cathedrals in Europe are able to accommodate so many worshippers. The Blue Mosque seems to have made use of multiple domes and did not try to be tall giving a majestic notion. The cathedrals in Europe, on the other hand, adopt domes sparingly and try to be tall, thereby having to resort to flying buttresses and other features to provide the lateral stability.   In so doing, the amount of column free space inside the cathedrals are reduced.

Hagia Sophia is probably the most famous example of Byzantine architecture in the World. It was built as a cathedral, then it became a mosque and today it is now a museum. It is where you can see Christianity and Islam under one roof. It was amazing to see images of Christianity next to Arabic calligraphy or mosaic.  The spacious  nave of Hagia Sophia is covered by a lofty central dome carried on pendentives,  a device not previously employed in monumental construction. Pendentives make  possible support of the dome on a square framework of four huge equal arches  resting on huge piers. The arches at the east and west are extended and  buttressed by great half domes, while the half domes in turn are carried on  smaller semidomed exedrae.
We sat down on the steps of this beautiful mosque and observe the daily rhythms of life – in this predominantly Muslim yet secular country, the mosques are as much a focal point of social life as they are places of worship.

Wander and haggle through ancient grand bazaars and spice markets was a unique experience. It’s the most mind-blowing and totally new shopping experience you could ever imagine. The Grand bazaar was full of colors; from the lanterns to colored  rugs and scarfs.  It is where you can pretty much buy everything known to man (from jewellery, to figs, to coffee,  to bags, to belts, to furniture and furnishings). Tired, we sat down in a cafe within the bazaar and tried out a Turkish coffee. 

Night life of Istanbul is legendary. When the sun goes down and the lights come on, Istanbul becomes the big scene for nightlife with incredibly various options. The city switches into a vibrant mode of night life action. There was so much night life as we walked down the main street with many pedestrians and trams  running in the middle.

Approaching dinner time, we decided to go to a restaurant where there was belly dance performance. The dance was so lively and attractive that most diners just concentrated on the dance instead on the food. The dance was more of an art than a performance!

There is so much life and so much to see in Istanbul. What has been said for London also holds true for Istanbul; if you are tired of Istanbul, you are tired of life!

Bosphorous – A Strait betweenTwo Continents

Istanbul is a place where East meets West, old meets new; a place of fusion of cultures and a place of strategic historic importance. It was a memorable occasion to cruise up and down on this stretch of water which divides Europe and Asia.  This city has miles of beautiful waterfront and  there was so much activity along the two shores of the continents.

At the moment we left the busy harbour of Istanbul, we knew that it would be a feast for the eyes. There was so much to see as we swinged by summer homes, palaces, ancient buildings, hotels, kiosks, bridges and many different types of ships ranging from container vessels, cargo ships to ferries, yachts and pleasure crafts .

We first passed by the Dolmabache Palace; we were awed by the view the day before in the palace while relaxing on the benches in the palace garden and admiring the sea view, looking through the tall white  iron fence built along the Palace’s waterfront.  The view from the ferry was equally interesting, if not more so.

The modernity of the towers for this suspension bridge contrast sharply with the ancient  Ortakoy Mosque next to it. This is just another example of how old meets new. The Bosphorus Bridge connects the two continents:Europe with Asia. When completed in 1973, it was the world’s 4th longest suspension bridge, but now it ranks the 16th. It is a gravity anchored suspension bridge with steel pylons and inclined hangers. With a total length of 1510m and a main span of 1074m, the aerodynamic deck is hanging by zigzag steel cables from the main cables 64m above the sea. 

This is a busy waterway. The view continued as numerous  boats cruising up and down the Strait on the beautiful turquoise colored  waters. As we turned our way back down the strait, we noticed that a big container vessel heading down south had just crossed under this magnificent bridge.

Have always desired for a summer house by the sea. This is exactly the place where I want my summer house to be. A house close to the sea where you can view yachts, pleasure boats and the daily rhytmns of life.

As we got closer to Istanbul,  the sun had lowered itself westward behind the skyline, turning the Bosphorus into a body of golden waters against the dark silhouettes of the bulbous mosques and their pencil-like  minarets.  The waters of the Bosphorus offers an infinite array of moods. . . . . .I knew it was time to wake up from my ecstasy (from the mystical beauties of the strait and my dream house) and get on with the rest of our journey.