Istanbul: Walks of Turkey shows you the mystery, the splendor, the sites

Istanbul, Turkey
Is there any other country that evokes such mystery, history and assault to your  senses in color, sounds, smells and tastes?

Day ONE:  Mosques and More
When Walks of Turkey was launched earlier this year I KNEW this way the way I could travel solo and be confident I would see everything and learn more.   The exceptional reputation of Walks of Italy assured me I would have a similar experience in 
exotic Istanbul.

  It was a great pleasure to be invited on two of the tours Walks of Turkey offer and the photos only tell a portion of the wonderful two day events I experienced.   I also learned a great deal about solo travel to exotic locations.

From the roof terrace in my hotel I had a view of everything.  This day started hazy

 The covered colonnade surrounding the interior courtyard of the                                            Blue Mosque

Before 9 am this popular site is less crowded but within an hours hundreds and hundreds of visitors flooded the interior

 We were prepared with scarves to cover our hair (women) and plastic bags were handed out to put our shoes into.  The entire interior was carpeted.  Our guide told us that year ago fine carpets lined the floor, either from donations or gifts.

Our guide Duygu, on day one was amazing and made all the difference.
She knew more history than my brain could absorb but went beyond the Ottoman Empire and told us
about religious customs, beliefs and practices.

No question was off limits but the three (tourists) were respectful:

Why are there only men working in the shops?
How many times a day are the devout called to prayers?
Is there a separate place in the mosque for women?
and on and on…..but she NEVER tired nor did she ever say ‘I don’t know”.

Next stop:  Hagia Sofia:   Here it was not just the architecture but the history of the building that went back centuries.   

                     From the second floor of the Hagia Sofia there were great views of the Blue Mosque

The lighting is very dim but adds to the atmosphere 

There are GIANT fish (perhaps carp) swimming around in the dark

Part of a movie was filmed here and we debated if it was the Dan Brown adaption or a James Bond film.  Either way how they got a speed boat in here is the question.

There was one other couple on this part of the tour.
They were very friendly and did not mind a solo traveler at all.

At the end of the visit you can stop for a beverage at the underground cafe.   

          See part II for a review of the incredible food served during lunch!  Without a ‘tour’ I would never have found the restaurant nor been able to order such a wonderful assortment of great treats.

I was the guest of Walks of Turkey for the full day tour but the opinions and photos are my own.

Published by Lee Laurino

A traveler not a tourist, searching for experiences not in travel books. Solo traveler who travels as long and far as possible sharing photos of the people and places I discover

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