This was the first part of our European trip this year. We flew direct to Istanbul, spending 5 days there, before flying to Athens, which is covered in the next post.

Istanbul was an amazing, colourful and friendly place. We did all the tourist things, including a boat ride all the way up the Bosphorus Strait, to the Black Sea. We also spent a lot of time just walking around the narrow streets and exploring cafes, alleyways and plazas. Food was excellent and the people were very nice. The only thing was the population. Istanbul has about 22 million residents, which is by far the largest city we’ve ever been to. Being from the “Great White North”, it’s not surprising that the over-crowding of Istanbul got to us after a few days.

Istanbul is over 90% Muslim and the women mostly have their heads covered; at least in the Old City, where we were staying. We did spend an evening in the New City, which is on the north side of the Galata Bridge (still in Europe, not Asia), where it is much more modern. Here, very few women had head coverings and this is where all the designer shopping was. The contrast was extraordinary, almost like being in Montreal!

We visited the Grand Bazaar, which I thought was just a huge flea market, and the Spice Market, which was incredibly unique and fun to explore. Something that was very evident was the number of hawkers. I think this is the main type of employment in Istanbul, but they are friendly and don’t really persist too much.

One thing that really bothered us was the number of homeless cats and dogs everywhere in the city. They weren’t dangerous or anything, but seeing these hungry animals wandering the streets brought a tear to my eyes more than once.

[Click on any photo for the slideshow. Please leave comments at the bottom of the page]

In front of our hotel

Cooking food in sealed ceramic jar.

Spice Market

Spice Market

Square at the New Mosque

Corn vendor at New Mosque

Washing feet at the New Mosque

Spice Market

This was at the end of an alleyway.

Making and eating kabobs (with coke). This was a very small eating place.

Spice Market

Spice Market

Street kid

Opening to the Black Sea

Making lunch in Anadolu Kavagi, Asia

Fishing on the Galata Bridge

Boats on the Bosphorus Strait

Street cat. Many homeless cats and dogs in Istanbul.

Yoros Castle at Anadolu Kavagi, Asia. Wild dogs

View of the New Mosque from Galata Bridge at night

The New Mosque

At the Galata Bridge at night

Small neighbourhood mosque

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia

Having Turkish tea

View from Hagia Sofia

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Hagia Sofia

Blue Mosque

Hagia Sofia

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

She sold me a t-shirt at Hard Rock Cafe

Peoples Democratic Congress Women’s Council at Galatasaray Square. Condemning the massacre of Kurds and other people on the Syrian border.

In the New City

In the New City

Salesperson at Hard Rock Cafe

Smokin the Hookah

Hard Rock Cafe

Having Turkish Coffee

City Tram

The Cistern

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