We really enjoyed Istanbul. Really, really enjoyed it – from the crowded Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, as well as all the small market streets between them, to the soaring domes of Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, the history and beauty of Topkapi Palace and its harem, to having an alfresco dinner in Beyoglu.
We ate our way around most of the city – not just kebap and baklava (although they featured frequently) but also fresh BBQ fish on the waterfront, a variety of Turkish puddings with Turkish coffee and, of course, lots and lots of cay (tea!). All that walking around and admiring the city necessitates frequent stops for refreshment.
Of course we hit up the major tourist sights, gawping with the best of them and taking far too many photos – none of which, now we come to view them on the computer screen, show the grandeur and adequately reflect our memories. It's best to visit them for yourselves!
Sure, at the end of a long stint in the Grand Bazaar we were tempted to make t-shirts with the slogan “We're from Australia. But no thanks, we don't want to buy a carpet.” Considering the zeal of the salesmen, we feel a little proud of the fact that we managed to avoid buying a carpet – or a lampshade, or a stack of Iznik tiles, or a leather footstool, or any other bulky homewares – and only purchased a few smaller, more practical souvenirs. Does anyone get away unscathed?