Sunday, October 19, 2014

Let's Talk Turkey - Number Three

Our last tour in Turkey was of the Sultanahmet Camii Mosque or better known as the Blue Mosque.  It is called the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles that cover the upper floors. Unfortunately these floors are not open to the public and we could only glimpse them from the main floor.

The Blue Mosque was amazing.  The detail in the domes and the ornate doors were impressive.

We were fortunate to secure a private guide to take us around the long lines into the mosque. This mosque is a functioning house of worship so it was closed for prayers several times a day.  I researched prayer times in advance so that we would know the times it would be closed.

There were many mosque in Istanbul. Five times a day you can hear the trilling call to prayer, also known as ezan. During this time the voice of the bellowing muezzin, the man who calls the Muslims to prayer from a minaret, can be heard over the loudspeakers at different mosques in the city.

Though this symphony of sorts was impressive from anywhere in town, the most extraordinary one was the battle of the call to prayer we heard between Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii Mosque) while walking down the street back to our hotel. If you are reading this in an email you will need to visit my blog to view the video.

We experienced many wonderful foods during our stay in Istanbul. Our dining experiences were indeed a significant part of the holiday fun. Just picking out a restaurant was an adventure.  Every corner held another long street filled with visually exciting opportunities for a flavourful experience.
Another great street filled with restaurants.
Our favorite fish dish during a great lunch.
Great presentation of a vodka tonic.
Delicious appetizers.
For our last dinner in Turkey we chose a restaurant located in the historical area of Sirkeci on a long street lined with restaurants and coffee houses.  We ate in the top floor dining room that looked out over the Aya Sofya Museum  Hippodrome and Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii Mosque).  The moon was full giving us a great photo opportunity.    

For our meal we enjoyed the drama of a popular dish (although not originating from Istanbul) called Tesi Kehap.  Ours was lamb, which had been roasted in a clay pot. The clay pot is brought from the oven to the table in a flaming dish, and with a flourish, the waiter breaks open the clay pot for all the dinners to enjoy.  Inside is a wonderful combination of: lamb, carrots, celery root, onions, garlic, and potatoes. If you want to enjoy the excitement, watch this video of the presentation of our dinner. If you are reading this in an email you will need to visit my blog to view the video.

I guess this is Istanbul's version of Steak Diane.
The restaurant was filled with lanterns. I loved the visual explosion of color and shape.
This reflection of the lanterns in the window was even more beautiful and interesting.

My favorite photo of the trip is not going to be one that you would expect.  It is a photo of Baghdad.  Yes, Baghdad, Iraq. It is my favorite photo from the trip because of how unique it is.

Our flight home took 4 and half hours. We were about half way home when SW suggested we look out the window of the plane.  The pilot had just announced we were flying over Mosul, Iraq.  I turned on the map of the flight path to see where we were flying and sure enough, we were flying through Syria and Iraq.

Here is Baghdad as seen from the window of our plane. The photo is not as good as the view really appeared.  There were many more lights in Baghdad than I would have thought.
I had no idea we would fly through these areas!  I guess I just never thought about how we would travel to and from Turkey. I assumed we would not fly over areas of the world that were at war.  

Realizing where we were located at that moment made me a bit nervous.

We snapped shots of Mosul and Baghdad out the plane windows.  I don’t think that will be something I will ever do again in my lifetime.

Turkey was wonderful and truly a once in a lifetime experience. The food was great, the people friendly (even though they definitely did not speak English) and the history amazing. It was another successful adventure.


P.S. After my last blog I received a request for all my videos to be posted on YouTube so they could be viewed.  I hope all my family and friends can enjoy my videos so I have uploaded all the video I shot in Turkey.  You can easily access them on my YouTube channel.

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