Star Date:  March 2016
Turkey I - Istanbul


Hello Dear Family & Friends!


(Hello - Turkish)






"Live from in to out, not out to in............"
(Kyle Cease) 



Live from in to out.  Now what's she on about?  Simple.  Live our lives from our center, from our heart, from who we really are inside.  Like children do.  Keep our attention on the moment, spend time in Nature, control our thoughts, try not to let our thoughts control us.  Don't live our lives based on what is happening outside of us, reacting to the world around us.  Out to in.  Have a quick look at the simple, yet powerful, youtube clip : (

Turkey, where Asia meets Europe in a fascinating whirlwind of old and new.  Istanbul is the ancient crossroad between Asia and Europe, an explosion of culture, colors, tastes, religions and traditions.  Close your eyes and imagine exotic Istanbul centuries ago.  Today aside from the cars and a few fancy shops and banks, not much has changed.  Back alleys, markets, mosques, churches, palaces and sidewalk cafes spring to life with the crow of the rooster and carry on into the wee hours.

Getting completely submerged in the life of Istanbul is a must.  It is a balance for the lines of tourists you will encounter entering every historic site.  The historic Peninsula of Sultanahmet in Fatih is built on 7 hills, and has been the subject of stories and poems over the centuries.  Staying in the old center of Sultanahmet it is possible to walk in the footsteps of history, reliving the grandeur and tragedy of Istanbul.

We stayed in a private home tucked back in the maze of streets, less than 5 minutes from the Blue Mosque.  Stepping out into Sultanahmet Square is entering a world beyond.  Stroll the square, in the footsteps of the ancient Sultans.  From the central obelisks (gifts from ancient Egypt to the south) we gazed on the splendor of the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya.  Everyone is welcome to enter the Blue Mosque regardless of religion or creed.  Once attired and covered properly, guests are allowed to soak in the intricate interior, while behind the barrier, Muslim pilgrims say their prayers.  The iconic domed silhouette, of the early 17th-century Blue Mosque is one of only a handful of mosques in the world to boast six minarets.  The magnificence of the mosque was dwarfed by the warm welcome given to visitors by the Muslims inside.

Outside lovely courtyards, gardens and fountains led the way to Aya Sofya.  After decades in which scaffolding cluttered the interior of Emperor Justinian's sixth-century Byzantine masterpiece, the thrill of being able to experience the extraordinary spaciousness of this famous church-turned-mosque-turned museum is hard to describe. It is fun to see how this church was tastefully 'redecorated' when the conquering Islam nation came to town.  They recognized greatness and rather than destroy Aya Sofya they simply put painted plaques over Christian symbols.  Once it became a museum both religions have equal say.  Newly opened are the tombs of several early Ottoman Sultans and their slaughtered sons; – before the rule of first born inheriting the throne - new sultans immediately had all potential rivals killed. 

Just behind but a thousand visitors apart is the Topkapi Palace.  Topkapi Palace was home to generations of sultans and their wives, who were closeted in the famous harem. A collection of green courtyards and delicate kiosks, the Topkapi boasted a treasury to put the crown jewels in the shade.  The reality is that many items of the jewel collection have turned up missing, work of an inside job it seems.  The movie boasting the same name highlights the theft of the famous emerald dagger.  The gardens have views to die for over the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and Golden Horn. The secretive harem, really  the family quarters, is a warren of exquisitely tiled rooms wrapped round a gem of a Turkish bath.

Wandering through the maze of streets in Istanbul we soon discovered that all the bakeries and confectionaries provide samples of Turkish delight or 'Iokum.'  Stiff competition exists between shops and soon it all blends into a frenzy of colorful dried fruit and nut treats.  How about dried pomegranate and pistachio (fistiks) squares?  One of my favorites.  Spices are also displayed with great pride and made my mouth water and taste buds tingle.  Sidewalk cafes display their dishes in the window and bakeries proudly show off 3 inch high fresh strawberry tortes and 10 kinds of Baklava.  The Grand Bazaar (Turkish: Kapalicarsi meaning 'Covered Market') in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops which attract thousands of shoppers and visitors daily.

Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, and the fifth-largest city in the world by population, is considered European, yet it occupies two different continents.  One part of Istanbul lies in Europe and the other part lies in Asia.  Istanbul’s European part is separated from its Asian part by the Bosphorus Strait, a 31-km-long waterway that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and forms a natural boundary between the two continents.  Being the only water route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, the Bosphorus has been the site of significant settlement and cities for a long time; in particular, the Golden Horn, an estuary that joins the Bosphorus Strait at the immediate point where the strait meets the Sea of Marmara, and forms a large, sheltered harbor.  It was here, on the European side of the Bosphorus, the city of Byzantium was founded by the ancient Greeks around 660 BC, the city which later became Istanbul. 

"When Constantine the Great became the new Roman emperor, the city was renamed as Constantinople in 330 AD. For the next sixteen centuries, Constantinople served as the capital of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire and the Ottoman Empire, during which over 120 emperors and sultans ruled over this land. Istanbul was a Christian city during Roman and Byzantine times, before the Ottomans conquered the city in 1453 and transformed it into an Islamic stronghold and the seat of the last caliphate. After the Turkish War of Independence, the modern Republic of Turkey was established in 1923, and although Ankara was chosen as its capital, the city did not lose its significance. Many palaces and imperial mosques still line Istanbul's hills as visible reminders of the city's previous central role. Today Istanbul is a huge metropolis connecting continents, cultures, and religions and being home to fifteen million people and one of the greatest business and cultural center of the region. " (Our Planet)

A fascinating way to see the fusion of Asia and Europe is a boat ride on the Bosphorus.  Taking one of the public boats allows for time with local Turks out for the day.  Babies, 'babuska' Grandmas and young lovers were thrilled to be out on the water.  Excitement was high!  The banks of the Bosphorus are lined with cathedrals, castles, estates, million dollar new homes, and mosques.  History oozes with each passing minute.  We would have known more facts to pass along but the explanation was in Turkish.  And we were busily enjoying the experience, like the children and lovers, from in to out!



And so it goes.........................................Next the interior of Turkey, and the eclectic, 'other worldly' rock cities of Cappadocia.    Until then let's remember to live from in to out.   Live our lives from our center, from our heart, from who we really are inside.  Like children do. Take care and Keep in Touch!




Love, Light & Laughter, 

xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph



Travel notes:


1 US Dollar equals 2.84 Turkish Lira


On this trip we started booking our first couple of nights lodging when we flew into a city.  Deep discounts were provided by the company with which we flew.  The closer we got to Europe the higher the prices.  We then switched to comparing discounted hotels with   We found many good deals.  Be aware that the total price at the end is way higher than advertised, with all added fees.  Airbnb has become a business in many cases, moving away from Mom and Pop renting their extra room.



Tyrol Boat Cruise company - go to the waterfront -walk under the bridge - first set of boats on right.  12TL for 90 min cruise on Bosphorus.  Half the price of tourist boats and a more cultural experience.










Aya Sofya.  Istanbul, where Asia meets Europe in a
fascinating whirlwind of old and new.


 Istanbul is the ancient crossroad between Asia and Europe, an
explosion ofculture, colors, tastes, religions and traditions.


Interior of the Blue Mosque.


Intricate tile ceilings.  There is a sheen of blue on the tiles,
hence the name of this famous mosque.


Pilgrims in the Blue Mosque.


Central obelisks (gifts from ancient Egypt to the south).  


A mosque near the Grand Bazaar.


A family on vacation, enjoying the park and the treats offered,
corn on the cob, fresh pretzels, etc!


The side streets on the way to our apartment.


Weaving a silk carpet.


The serene park adjacent to Topkapi Palace, and the hustle
and bustle of tourists.


Now that's a deluxe shoe shine kit!


Rain or shine, this is the answer!


Boat on the Bosphorus.


One of many mosques on the seven hills of Sultanahmat.


Cruising on the Bosphorus.


The Asian side of the straight.


Shoe shine anyone?


A friendly game of sidewalk checkers.


What a city!


Magnificent 360o views from Sultanahmet Center.


Overlooking the sea from Topkapi Palace.


Friendly police on horseback.


The blue mosaic tiles are stunning.


The Circumcision Room in the Summer Pavilion.  Summer
was the preferred season.  Many tiles date from the 1500's.


Imagine enjoying tea with the Sultan!


Detailed artwork everywhere you look.


Sun hat dresses up this traditional burka.


When entering Aya Sofya it is obvious how Turkish
rulers tastefully redecorated.


The mosaics upstairs are exquisite.


Feeding her pigeons.


The Grand Bazaar (Turkish: Kapalicarsi meaning 'Covered Market')


Fruit, nut and honey traditional Turkish Delight!

Aromatic spices to tantalize the taste buds.


On it!


Stilas in an ancient cemetery beside a mosque.


We were walking through the side streets when someone said,
"Hi Joseph."  We had met this great Turkish guy in Bangkok and
he remembered us.  We ate at his newly opened restaurant.





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