Turkey (Part 5): Bodrum, İzmir, Istanbul

December 6th and 7th: We spent our time walking around Bodrum and learned that many shops and restaurants are closed for the winter season. It was sunny but crazy windy.

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So windy!

December 8th to 10th: We bused up to İzmir. It is a bigger city than Bodrum so everything was open and bustling. It was terrible weather though – lots of rain and wind. We did our best to explore but we also stayed inside for the worst of it 🙂

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Blue sky!!!! at the İzmir Clock Tower.

December 11th to 18th: We flew from İzmir to Istanbul and stayed in a great Air BnB near Taksim Square. There were less cats than other cities in Turkey, but still a very healthy (and portly) population. We really enjoyed walking around Istanbul. There are interesting streets and alleys everywhere!

We met up with a Couch Surfer named Beste, who wanted to show tourists her favorite parts of Istanbul. She was amazing! So friendly and fun and happy! She rounded up a total of  7 Couch Surfers and took us to some nice areas, beautiful views, and to a delicious kebab restaurant. What a gal!

FYI: Couch Surfing is that website connecting travelers with free couches to sleep on. It’s changed over the years and is now often used as a meet-up app.

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It was a fun day!

We spent the rest of our days seeing sights and eating food.

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We walked around the Spice Market and Grand Bazaar and eye-balled all the wares.
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We did a boat tour of the Bosporus. We got to talking to an tourist information person who was originally from North Van! She refunded the cost of our tour! We’re not sure why but it was a really nice thing to do! She said the food she misses the most from Canada is celery. Sure enough, we couldn’t find it anywhere.
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We went to Sent Antuan Kilisesi (Saint Anthony Church) for a Christmas concert. It was standing room only at first – full of people taking selfies and snapchats and poor quality videos. Once the doors were closed and the selfie-stick crowd filtered out, the church was very calm and beautiful. The acoustics were amazing.
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Our everyday breakfast: tomatoes (or cucumber), mystery cheese (texture like feta), hard-boiled eggs, olives, pomegranate, helva, and tea.
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The Blue Mosque. Inside is being renovated so the grandeur was muted but it was still cool to see.
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The Basilica Cistern, underneath Istanbul. The water was drained out for maintenance but it was still super cool to see. There are 336 marble columns all nicely lined up (most are not accessible to the public).
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The Medusa column bases. The origin of these is unknown. It’s thought they were brought in in the Roman period as opposed to being part of the original cistern. Medusa is upside-down and sideways to prevent her gaze from turning you to stone.
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There was a cheesy photo booth underground that we (I) couldn’t resist. Seeing Les dressed up like this was worth every penny. We had lots of fun. We’re with Ira, one of the Couchsurfers. She was fun to hang out with!
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Underneath the Palatium Cafe and Restaurant, are Roman ruins that the family has been excavating for the past 20 years. Dig anywhere in this city and BAM! history! Maybe this whole country.
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Cat on top of the cafe’s bread oven.

We loved Istanbul! There are so many different areas to explore; we only scratched the surface. We hope to come back.

Next stop, Athens!

 

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