"City of the world's desire ..........." Istanbul by TheWanderingCamel
Istanbul Travel Guide: 7,829 reviews and 20,234 photos
For years, with this painting hanging on my walls at home, I dreamt of Istanbul ... to return there one day, to wander through and explore this city that has seen so much history and has been the object of so many mens' desires, the unmistakable domes and minarets of the city beckoning across the waters of the Bosphorus.
A few days spent there more than a decade ago had been my first taste of the city. Time enough to see the major sights - Aysofya, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi, the Archaeological Museum, the Golden Horn, St Savoiur in Chora, the Grand Bazaar among them - and, more importantly, to fall under the city's spell. It was December, short days and winter chill restricted us a little. I knew I had to return one day.
En route to Uzbekistan in 2009, flying Turkish Airlines - that gave us a chance to spend three days in the city as we waited for our Uzbek group to gather together, and another day on our homeward journey. Balmy September this time - perfect for sightseeing, walking , walking, walking - the Galata Bridge and Tower, Taksim trams, an exquisite mosque and a rarely-visited church, the Mosaic Museum and, of course, revisiting places seen before.
This time we found a home from home in a small Sultanhamet hotel that has since become a firm favourite both with MrL (who is fortunate enough to be able to spend an occasional 24 or 48 hours in Istanbul on his way to or from work commitments) and the several friends who have followed our recommendation to stay there.
Photo: View from the Galata Bridge
Still I hadn't had my fill - September 2011 found me back again, for a total of a week this time, days that bookended a superb tour through Eastern Anatolia. Exploring the city in an ever-widening circle - the Asian shore, to the mouth of the Bosphorus, more museums, time to seek out the publisher of a special book in the back streets of Pera, make our way from one Byzantine church to another in our own small pilgrim's trail, climb up to Pierre Loti's cafe for tea and that view ...
And all the while, on each visit, there were hours spent simply being there, soaking in the sights, the sounds, the smells of this fabulous city, evenings spent on rooftop terraces with the city spread out all around or down at Sultanhamet street level with all the hustle and bustle of an Istanbul evening, the muezzin's call, the heady mix of spices and grilling meat, the at least once a day lemon juice stop at the cafe by the Ayasofya ...
I'm still not done with Istanbul. I don't know when I'll get back there, I just know I will - to revisit favourite places and discover new ones; to linger over a drink at a pavement cafe and watch the world go by; to browse among the shops in the Book and Astana Bazaars; to sit with a glass of wine on the rooftop terrace of our Sultanhamet hotel as evening settles on the city ...
One day ....
Photo: Through the Holy Gate
- Pros:One of the world's truly great cities
- Cons:I wish it were closer
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