Friday, April 11, 2014

Galata Tower - An intro to Istanbul, Turkey

Actual date of this event: 3 April

Boy oh boy, do I have A LOT to say. A.LOT. Luke and I originally planned to spend four nights in Istanbul, but changed that just before booking our flight. We chose to stay for five nights instead, and although we missed out on a few activities, I am so so so so glad we did! We could have easily spent another few nights there, and still wouldn't have been 100% satisfied. Istanbul is most definitely a pretty cool city - Luke is claiming that it is his favorite. As for me, I liked it, but I would still put Rome above it. But the fact that I would rather be writing about Istanbul than Venice says something, yeah? (How did I speak before I moved to Britain without saying "yeah?" at the end of everything??) Like I said, I have so much to document that I have come up with, oh, eight or so posts to write. Yikes! We had several things planned, and didn't even get to a few of them, but one of the first things we did was go up Galata Tower.
Galata Tower is located in Beyoğlu which is a district on the north side of the Golden Horn on the European side of Istanbul. (Did you know Istanbul sits in both Europe and Asia?) The tower towers above the buildings that surround it making it visible from many areas of Istanbul. It helps that it sits on top of one of the hills making it even higher. (Did you know that Istanbul is full of hills? Seven hills, in fact. Although, it felt like way more than that!) 
There was a short wait when we arrived, but it moved quickly as the elevators shuffled people in and shuffled people out. Admission was 19TL per person, but it was also possible to pay in euros (6.50pp). (Several places in Istanbul accept euros and USD. I thought it was strange they did not acccept GBP though.) The views from the top were spectacular even though it was very hazy during our visit. There was only one day when it seemed not hazy, so I am assuming this might be a normal thing??? After going through the pictures from our tower visit, it was neat to see so many things that we did during our trip. With that being said, I thought it would be perfect to start out my posts with pictures we took from the tower of some of the major attractions because we did A LOT of sight-seeing. 
Our apartment was super close to Taksim Square (you know, the square where those violent protests resulting in a few deaths happened last year, yeah there) in Beyoğlu, and this is where we did most of our eating, and drinking, and other stuff.
We moved along this road in a tram several times.
 Which went right over the Galata Bridge.
 Passing by the New Mosque many many times while visiting the bazaars and other things.
 And also the location of where we departed on our Bosphorus Boat Cruise.
We took a bajillion pictures in the historic area of Sultanahmet.
 Also overwhelmed with the size of the Hagia Sophia.
 Experiencing our very first visit to a Muslim Mosque at the Blue Mosque.
 We spent some time eating, drinking and soaking up the perfect weather (literally the whole time) on a few different rooftops.
 We hadn't yet reached the 3,200 picture mark yet, but we did soon enough.
 Peacefully entering the Süleymaniye Mosque, which we both agreed was the more superior mosque.
 We wandered off the beaten path, then took a boat ride down the Golden Horn
 Lastly, and most exciting for us, we visited Asia for the very first time!
One of the neatest things that happened while we were on top (and various times throughout the trip) was hearing a Muslim prayer call. It was 16:55, which during our visit was the Ikindi prayer time. I got pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming-goosebumps as we heard the call from the mosques while looking out over the city. One of the coolest moments ever!! See video:
And much much more!! I could write a whole book about the stuff we did in Istanbul, but I am going to do my best to not go overboard. I'm looking forward to reviewing all 3,200 of our pictures. Who knows, maybe after looking back, I will declare it my favorite city, too.

Galata Tower was built in 1348. It is nine levels tall and has a restaurant and cafe at the top.

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