Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Princes' Islands - Istanbul - Day 3

On the 3rd day of my Istanbul adventure, me and mom took a day tour to the Princes' Islands.

Well you all must be wondering why is it called the Princes' Islands! Well its because during the Byzantine and early Ottoman period, members of the dynasties who fell out of favour were sent to exile there. Until late 19Th century, when regular steamer transportation showed up in the seas around Istanbul, these islands were considered remote and far-away places. Apart from the exiled princes, only a handful of monks found these islands inhabitable then, a fact which gives the islands their former name in Turkish: Keşiş Adaları (“Islands of the Monks”).

Princes’ Islands consist of four major and five minor islands. Me and mom visited the largest island which is Büyükada.

The day started off at the pick up point in the old city sultanahmet.
While we were waiting mom and me strolled along a small bazaar and got some sourveniers.

Mom made friends with the shop owner.

After that our journey began all the way to Büyükada island.
As you can see from this 100 year old map!
It's a very charming island with European architectural style.

Fish is food priority here...
Good Stuff but make sure to ask for the price of each type of fish before you order or else you'll be wondering why is the bill SO EXPENSIVE!

I find that Istanbul is very rich in fruits as well...
They even have 3 types of raspberry! Apparently the white one is sweeter.

This is where it all begins at the Clock Tower its at the center of the town.

We dropped by at the church of St. Francis of Assisi on the Island. Unfortunately we are not allowed to take photos inside the church. But from the outside it doesn't seem much but when you enter it the interior is in gold and heavily ornamented.

The kids from sunday school. So innocent!

The island is filled with charming houses. It's like those you see in the movies.

So is the interior. I couldn't help myself I love big mirrors.

Me and mom at the indoor fountain of a famous hotel.
Apparently one of the Ottoman's sultan use to dance around this place with a maiden.

The best way to see the island is to take a phaeton ride.
Just get on one and enjoy the scenary!

Me and mom on the phaeton ride.

This is our tour guide for the day. Mr. Emu, I got him to pose for me with the old school elevator. He's an anthropologist and speak 6 or 8 different languages. It was a most educational / relaxed / fun trip ^^

And last but not least all of us during Lunch!

Next stop Bosphorus and the Dolmabache Palace- Day 4. ^^
Stay Tuned.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Istanbul series - Day 2


- soar -

- fear -

- picnic -

- delicacy -

- secret -

- reverence -

- job -

- wisdom -

The Great Bursa - Outside Istanbul - Day 2 - Part 2

After Lunch, we visited the Yesil Cami literally translated as the Green mosque. The mosque was right next to the Hunkar Restaurant. Yesil Cami also known as Mosque of Mehmed I was built because to show that peace has returned after the battle among siblings in the country.

Yesil Cami main entrance

The door is crowned by a half dome with a cascade of mocarabe (stalactites)
that taper into the a star.

The interior of the mosque is decorated
with a mosaic blue-green tiles of the walls and richly decorated eyvans.

Next we walked over to restored Ottoman Traditional Houses
it has been transformed into a shop.
We got a feel of what kind of lifestyle the people during the Ottoman lived.
To me I would say pretty extravagantly!

Mom in front of a Traditional Ottoman House
Looks nothing much outside but look at the interior.

Its so charming .
They even have a secret garden at the top of the house!

After that our guide took us to UluCami which means the "great mosque" of Bursa. It was built in the early Ottoman period, in 1399, it resembles more of seljuq buildings of inland Anatolia than the typical Ottoman mosque such as The Blue Mosque in Istanbul that was built later.
This is the our Bursa guide. He's one funny fellow.

The UluCami from a far

The UluCami upclose

UluCami's interior

For our last stop we walked to the old silk market in the cover bazaar. Boy, it was bustling with people usually people who are about to get married come here to shop for goods. They have all sorts from wedding deco to jewelerry to wedding dresses to home deco etc etc etc and all at a bargained price which depends on how good is your bargaining skill! :P

This is the entrance of the covered bazaar

This is inside the bazaar which looks pretty big to me
and now makes me wonder how big actually is the grand bazaar?
That will be on the last day of my adventures in Istanbul. :)

So what's next for my adventures in Istanbul?
Well we'll be heading to the Prince's Islands for Day 3!

The Great Bursa - Outside Istanbul - Day 2 - Part 1

Day 2 in Istanbul, Mom and me decided to take a day tour outside of Istanbul.
We went to Bursa which is the first major capital city of the Ottoman Empire. It was famous for being the largest center of silk trading and also famous for their therapeutic thermal baths.

Our journey started with a coach ride across the Bosphorus Bridge to the Asian Side of Istanbul then took the ferry down to Yalova. While enjoying the country side view we drove to Bursa. It was quite a journey to Bursa. It took us about nearly 3 hours to get into the city of Bursa.

On the way to Galata

The Bosphorus Bridge to cross over to the Asian continent.
Taken from inside the coach.

And then we boarded the ferry crossing over to Yalova
It was a fine day, The Turkish flag flying proudly

Joining us on the ferry ride was a winged friend which accompanied us all the way to Yalova and back.

As soon as we reached Bursa we went on a cable car ride up to Uludağ mountain, also known to be one of the Mount Olympus because it is said that the ancient greek gods watched the Trojan war from this mountain and it is closest to Troy (Hisarlik). It is also the highest peak of the Mamara Region at 2,543m above sea level.

On the cable car going up the mountain.
As you can see Bursa is surrounded by greens.
The city is frequently cited as "Yeşil Bursa" meaning Green Bursa in a reference to the beautiful parks and gardens located across its urban tissue and as well as to the vast forest surrounding the region.

This is a view of Bursa from the hills of Mount Uludag.
Breath taking.

At the first stop of the cable car is a valley where Pony rides are available around the valley. It is also a picnic spot.

After coming down from Mount Uludag we went to have lunch at Restaurant Hunkar. We had a 3 course meal which consist of Soup and Greek Salad; Iskander Kebab (Kebab of Alexander the Great); and creme caramel.

The restaurant has a really nice rustic ambiance to it.

Mom enjoying the ambiance. :D

The appetizer for lunch...
but my breakfast looks like this everyday

This is the famous Iskander Kebab.
It doesn't look much but its pure yummi-ness!
Its bread(at the bottom) covered with meat served with sliced tomatoes, yogurt and butter sauce!
Yes I know what you're thinking... the calories!!!
And when I got back I put on 5 Kg despite of all the walking around exploring!

Newly made friends!
Indian family from London & Bosnian family from Canada!

Up next Yesil Cami (green mosque), UluCami (Grand Mosque), the restored Ottoman Period Houses & The old silk Market in the covered bazaar.

Stay Tuned ^^