Right, I’ve been back from Istanbul for ages now, but a combination of laziness and business has prevented me from posting anything. Lame on my part, I know.
Anyway, on the first free day I had I went to visit the Hagia Sophia, originally a church, then a mosque, now a museum, which is arguably Istanbul’s most famous historical building. As the photos show, it was impressive inside and well worth visiting (although I should add that for all the hype about its interior, it wasn’t a patch on St. Petersburg’s St. Isaac’s cathedral, not that I am comparing like with like here).
Directly opposite the Hagia Sophia was the Blue Mosque, which I only saw from the outside.
My hotel had a great view of the Bosphorus, which if you are into watching ships is a good place to sit and observe the day’s marine traffic. The bridge which links Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus is shown below.
There were a lot of mosques in prominent locations in the city, of far more impressive and tasteful appearance than anything I saw in the Middle East.
Below is the entrance to the Grand Bazaar, supposedly the world’s largest covered bazaar. I had visited this briefly on my first day in Istanbul, intending to go back later. However, I got caught up in the Eid holidays which mark the end of Ramadan, and when I got to the Grand Bazaar I found it closed, as the picture below shows. Two thousand years of trading, and when I’m there it’s closed!
I have included the picture of an extremely crowded Terminal 1 of Moscow’s Sheremotyevo airport because I think it is representative of certain aspects of Russian travel. There is a huge crowd, everyone is delayed and irritable, there is nothing to do but drink, which most people are doing, an officer of some sort stands about in full uniform, and some Russians are sat with a random object on their table, in this case a trophy.
It had snowed in Moscow, and my flight back to Sakhalin was delayed by 5 hours. To pass the time, I did what most other people were doing, and bought a bottle of Absolut vodka and drank half of it in a few hours. I can’t remember much about getting on the plane, and I slept for 7 hours of the 9 hour flight, waking up somewhere over Khabarovsk. As a way of coping with Moscow airport delays and lengthy flights, I can highly recommend it.