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Honeymoon in Turkey

Exploring Istanbul

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=====Welcome!==

If you are looking for wedding photos - check out my facebook photo gallery

Yep, finally getting the honeymoon blog up. We had a terrific time and took hundreds and hundreds of photos [only a fraction of which you will see here]. Turkey totally exceeded our expectations and we only scratched the surface, spending most of our 10 day trip in Istanbul with a short two day trip to Capadoccia in central Anatolia. Although the wedding was on October 24th, we decided to go home, settle back in, work a few more weeks, then head to Turkey around Thanksgiving. The crowds were light and the weather was terrific - couldn't have been better! Thank you to everyone who donated to our Honeymood Fund - we couldn't have done it without you!

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Hilary and I smiling broadly on our second day in country - its probably partially the jet lag...

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The skyline of Istanbul reflects the religious and cultural realities of the city, and Turkey, broadly - the vast majority of Turkey's 71 million inhabitants practice Sunni Islam. The skyline is quite dramatic with the domes and minarets of various Mosques throughout.

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We flew from DC to Frankfurt, then on to Istanbul

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The interior of the temple of Baghdad inside the grounds of the Topkapi Palace. The Sultan had it constructed to celebrate the conquering of Baghdad in 1639. Too bad all we got was a trillion in debt and a library in Waco...

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Detail of tile in the Royal Harem in the Topkapi Palace. The place was covered in these

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Small markets down side streets in Istanbul were full of fresh produce

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The neighborhood around the Galata Tower in Beyoglu felt like Paris - full of cute cafes, boutiques, and artistic graffiti

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The Grand Bazaar - a covered market that has been the site of such commerce since 1451 - was full of interesting shops. Many of them were obvious tourist traps, but Hilary found one that has an incredible selection of beautiful textiles at reasonable prices.

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There are scores of passages and thousands of shops in the Grand Bazaar, and most of ceilings are decorated in the Ottoman style

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Our first visit to the famous Baklavasi emporium Gulluoglu in Karakoy - amazing stuff

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Worth a vist or three when you go to Istanbul

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On special display at Gulluoglu when were were there - a sheet of Baklavasi in the likeness of our President

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Hilary nom, nom

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Istanbul's waterfront is quite lively with ferries arriving from and departing for the Asian side of the Bosporus every few minutes

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Istanbul is literally crawling with stray cats. They are everywhere. That said, didn't see a single rat the whole week...

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Hilary begins to tire after a long day of sightseeing. Here she swoons in front of the entrance to the Islamic Art Pavilion at the Archeological Museum.

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You may know the story of the Trojan War as told by Homer in the Iliad. But did you know that the ruins of Troy are just down the coast from Istanbul? Here is a reproduction of what the famous horse looked like in the museum. Kids can climb inside!

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An artists recreation of what the old section of Istanbul looked like when it was Constantinople - the Eastern Capital of the Roman Empire - from 306 - 1450 AD. It is amazing to see what the Byzantines built and what is left today. Our hotel is in a neighborhood in the lower right hand side of this map.

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The Courtyard of the Archeological Museum

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Hilary poses next to a statue near the entrance to the Archeological Museum

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In the Galata neighborhood - over in Beyoglu - there were lots of music stores

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In one store - selling all kinds of drums - an impromptu jam session was taking place

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Lots of mummies in the Archeological Museum - of all flavors - Hittite, greek, persian, etc.

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Hilary, still awed by the tile-work in the Topkapi Palace

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A view of the New Mosque near the Spice Bazaar as traffic heads for the Galata Bridge to Beyolu

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There are so many wonderful sweets and pastries in Turkey, but our food guide book sent us here for a special seasonal treat - Quince and turkish cream

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Hilary about to dig in

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One of the two underground trams that bring you up from the harbor level to the ridge that makes up Istanbul's old commercial section

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At the base of the Galata Bridge are these brightly lit boats. We were not sure what they were at first until we got closer and realized that they were selling fish sandwiches. Hilary tried one, but it had too many bones in it, even for a fish lover...

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Close up of one of the fish sandwich boats

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Seating for the sandwich joint

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A shop selling nothing but prayer beads - we picked some up for my Nephew John who loves beads.

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The Spice Bazaar near the Galata Bridge was packed at night. Here is just one of the deli-like stores selling everything you can imagine from honey to meats to cheeses.

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Another view of the Grand Bazaar (separate from the Spice Bazaar) with an image of Attaturk, the father of modern Turkey, overhead.

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Cheese shop in the Spice Bazaar

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Carts selling kestanes, or chestnuts, were everywhere in Istanbul

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A small vendor selling a Turkish form of Ceviche with the New Mosque in the background

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There was a small exhibit of ornately decorated Korans at the Islamic Museum that was well worth a visit. I love Islamic art - something about the colors and the geometric forms are pleasing to my eye.

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Gilded in gold with intricate designs - these were the most beautiful holy books I had ever seen
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In almost all cases the Korans were decorated with geometric designs
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Itsiklal Avenue up in Beyoglu - Istanbul's commerical/shopping area

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A nice view of the Haghia Sophia in the late afternoon. This amazing building - conceived as a church 1400 years ago - was also a Mosque during Ottoman times, but today is a museum. Some nice interior views later in the blog.

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One of the six minarets of the Blue Mosque. Our hotel was only a few blocks away, so we heard the call to prayer loud and clear.

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Interior of the Blue Mosque - This gorgeous building was my favorite of the trip. It is a working Mosque, but tourists are invited in between prayers.

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The blue dome of this Mosque was amazing, and hanging from it were hundreds, possibly thousands of wires to hold lights.

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The lush carpet in the Blue Mosque is nice and soft - better for praying! Note the familiar tulip motif of the Ottoman period.

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When we visited it was late afternoon and the sun was streaming in the stained glass windows

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Women were asked to cover their heads when entering the Mosque - Hilary makes a rather fetching Muslim, no?

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Antoher view of the domes and lighting. It looks distracting, but it didn't diminish the beauty of the place

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The courtyard of the Blue Mosque with one of the minarets

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This was taken from the roof deck of our hotel. The dome and towers you see are Haghia Sophia. The Blue Mosque is just to the left out of the frame. If you looked to the right you would see the Bosporus and Sea of Marmara shimmering beyond.

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Hilary in the underground cistern. This was a water source for the city during the Byzantine period. For hundreds of years it was lost and remained buried underground until it was found again. It is amazing how cities can perch on top of amazing treasures that people just forget about...

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There is not much ornamentation in the cistern, but a paid of Medusa colums are a must see.

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This interior of the Haghia Sophia is from the second floor looking South

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Hilary on the second level of the Haghia Sophia looking toward the great expanse of the building. Note the arabic script. For hundreds of years it was a church, the jewel of Byzantium, then it became a Mosque, then recently a museum. There is evidence of each of these periods throughout the building.

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The view from the Haghia Sophia to the Blue Mosque accross the plaza. It is amazing that two of the worlds greatest architectural treasures sit just a few hundred yards from each other.

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Antother view of the Blue Mosque from Haghia Sophia

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Apparently, in the 9th century a band of Vikings conquered the city. This graffiti on one of the Haghia Sophia's stones is marked "Halvdan".

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One of the many early Christian mosaics uncovered when the building became a museum. In Istanbul we saw many examples of Christian artworks that had been painted over when the Churches became Mosques. So glad they didn't take hammer and chisel to these mosaics.

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Can you tell which building is my favorite?

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The vast interior of Haghia Sophia with the chandeliers hanging far below and the morning sun streaming in above

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Interior - Haghia Sophia

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Numerous chandeliers seem to hover over the floor of the huge space

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From the floor level

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Hilary gives you a sense of how large these are, and how low...

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And how many there are!

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The interior of the dome of Haghia Sophia with the angels exposed by restoration

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They say this space is so large that the Statue of Liberty could do jumping jacks inside and not touch the dome or the sides

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A fish market along the Golden Horn - the Golden Horn is a river-like inlet in the Bosporus
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A view of the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent with the Galata Bridge in the foreground. On the top level of the bridge were streetcar tracks, a road, and a great big pedestrian walkway. Below were a number of fish restaurants with outdoor seating.

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Same view, further away

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Same view

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Hilary and Bryan enjoy some Turkish tea on board the Bosporus Cruise up to the Black Sea. Very comfortable.

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A view of the fort at the mouth of the Bosporus as it joins the Black Sea - an ancient choke point, for both trade and conquest

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The uniquitous Attaturk bust in the fishing village at the end of our cruise to the Black Sea. Hilary enjoys some chewey Turkish ice cream.

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Lunchtime up above the fort with the Bosporus in the background. Food was not very good, but the view!

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The fort at the mouth of the Bosporus

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The Black Sea - Russia and Ukraine beyond

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Even today this area is of great strategic importance and much of it was off-limits

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Hilary enjoys the voyage home

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The Bosporus was lined with Yalis, or summer homes. I suspect many of them inhabited full time now.

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A few of the older Ottoman Yalis with their characteristic architecture

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Lots of flags - a proud and nationalistic people the Turkish

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The Dolmabahçe Palace, just up the Bosporus from the older part of Istanbul, was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire.

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Many fishermen in Istanbul, some of them, like this fellow, seemed to be part-timers

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Rope shop

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Olives

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Small launches on the Golden Horn

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Hilary and I like to wander, and one afternoon we walked along the old Byzantine Wall and then through a poor neighborhood called Fatih.

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More livestock than one expects to find in a European Capital

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Fatih was pretty run down, even by Istanbul standards, but felt cheerful and safe

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Remnants of the thousand year old city wall

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Hilary poses in front of a long defunct Synagogue. The Ottomans were famously tolerant of religious diversity. Not sure why this one declined.

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The view from the top of the old Byzantine wall that runs all the way around the old part of the city

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Another view towards downtown - Hilary was quite nervous up here as there were not guard-rails

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A view of a house in Fatih that is literally disintegrating from neglect

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Modern tile work detail

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The mosaics at the Chora Church were amazing - also painted over instead of destroyed when the Church became a Mosque

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My photos don't do the Chora Church justice - these mosaics were amazing in their detail and vibrant colors

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A small nave, but lovely (double meaning, get it?)

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Just outside of the Chora Church is one of Istanbul's best restaurants called Asitane. This place was amazing - One of our top two most memorable meals in Turkey (the other was Thanksgiving Dinner in Cappadocia).

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Hilary prepares to enjoy her chestnut soup. The menu is based on various dishes served to the Sultan throughout the centuries of Ottoman rule. Its good to be the king.

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My appetizer, grilled Turkish cheese with sauted wild mushrooms

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My main dish - chicken with almonds and apricots. Simple, but sublime.

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Hilary's quince stuffed with rice and meat. Liked a stuffed pepper, but so much better as the quince adds sweetness.

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Happy already and she has not even attacked it yet!

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My dessert - house-made Halvasi. I love the store bought stuff, but this... like butter....
If you find yourself withing 1,000 miles of this place, do yourself a favor and stop in. Here is the website:
Asitane

We found a terrific food guidebook called "Istanbul Culinary Backstreets" that was worth its weight in gold. Its suggestions were terrific without exception. Their website is here: Istanbul Eats
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Hilary just couldn't stay away, and be were back to the Grand Bazaar for more gifts and treasures

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In a number of places in the Bazaar there were fonts for washing - either before prayer, or just after breakfast

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A nice view of the Istanbul Skyline from the Modern Art Museum

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View of a Mosque along the river near the Modern Art Museum

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Hilary and Bryan at the top of the Galata Tower - nice views!

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Galata tower views - For fans of Orhan Pamuk's novel "The Museum of Innocence", this is the neighborhood where Fusun's family lived

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Hilary with a view of the Topkapi Palace on the other side of the Golden Horn

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Karakoy and Galata Bridge

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As a major trade route, the Bosporus was almost always full of container traffic

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A view of the Galata Tower

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No shortage of outdoor cafes in Beyoglu

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Fish story in Beyoglu

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This shop was just around the corner from the main shopping street in Beyoglu - shoes, couture, and veggies!

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The Attaturk monument in Taksim Square - the main transit hub of the city.

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Hilary rides a fununcular - her favorite

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Tram Nerd

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The Blue Mosque by night

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Bryan enjoys a Turkish coffee after dinner. Mistake - was up late!

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Our "Honeymoon Suite" at the hotel in Sultanamet where we stayed the week.

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Hilary getting investment ideas

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A nice view of the Haghia Sophia in the late afternoon

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Modest muslim fashion - this dress shop was in a shopping area near the spice bazzar - mostly locals shop here, very few tourists

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The shopping area near the spice bazaar - Eminonu

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Head-scarfs can be high fashion!

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Not sure if this was specifically a wedding bed for sale, or if Turkish couples sleep in such things every night...

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So busy on Sunday you could hardly move

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Little outfits for kids to wear to their circumcision ceremonies - surreal.

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spices in the spice bazaar

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Elbow to elbow in the spice bazzar

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Roasted Corn, one Turkish Lire (about 65 cents)

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In some parts of town 75% of the women of all ages were wearing headscarfs, in others, like Beyoglu, almost none. This is a big political issue for a secular state like Turkey. Attaturk would likely be suprised if he wandered the streets of Istanbul today.

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Street art

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Hilary and the ubiquitious cup of Turkish tea

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Beautiful tile work in the Topkapi Palace

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Interior of the Harem at the Topkapi Palace

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Detail of the stone flooring in the kitchen area of the Topkapi Palace

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Kitchen area at Topkapi

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Hilary in the Topkapi Palace Library - she wants one too....

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The harem at the Palace was full of beautiful tile and stained glass

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Sunset over the Sea Of Marmara

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next stop - Cappadocia!

Posted by BryanG 18:58 Archived in Turkey

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Comments

Congragulations on your marriage!! Great pictures and thanks for sharing it.

Sevin Kuzik
http://monetatravelturkey.wordpress.com

by sevin kuzik

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