Istanbul is a cultural and sensory delight

by CameronM Sun, September 28 2003 05:53

Istanbul is a cultural and sensory delight. It truly is the place where East-meets-West. Where conservative Turkish culture mixes with the latest European fashions.

When we finally arrived at our hostel in Sultanahmet, we were surprised to find many of the inhabitants still in bed even though it was approaching midday. Over the next few nights the reasons for this became painfully clear. The hostel had a very loud and lively bar downstairs that entertained the residents until the wee hours of the morning. On our last day at the hostel in fact, we met a guy in our dorm you had stayed at the hostel for five nights, but had never slept on his bunk, passing out on the roof top terrace every night after a lively social agenda. The worst part was that many of them were Aussies, so no doubt we are again setting a terrible example to the world.

After a shower and a short nap we ventured out into the now bustling streets of Istanbul. The first thing you notice, besides the carpet shops, is Sultanahmet Square, a green oasis complete with a fountain and park benches, where you can relax and watch the world go by, while enjoying stunning vistas to the Blue Mosque and its older and a little more tired Aya Sofia. 
Many a evening over the course of the next few days I would wander down to the square, sit on one of the benches facing the well lit Blue Mosque, enjoying the atmosphere and the architecture, while sipping a cup of tea that I had purchased from the roving sellers, who I figure must be the Muslim equivalent of the beer sellers at football matches. During the day, the area around the square was filled with people, tourists and locals alike, and you could purchase food from street vendors and enjoy the slightly cooler sun Istanbul provided.

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