Three days doesn't do many cities justice, let alone Istanbul. But alas, three days was all I could spend considering that I had 50 days to get from Greece to Egypt by land. Here's my final day in Byzantium.
My final day in Istanbul was a Sunday, so what better place for this Orthodox Christian to attend church than the Church of St. George, seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople? Here's the iconostasis inside.
The iconostasis of the Church of St. George.
Patriarch Bartholomew I
Patriarch Bartholomew I
Relic boxes of St. John Chrysostom (on the right) and possibly St. Gregory the Theologian (at left).
The 19th century neo-classical facade of the Church of St. George.
Time for a boat ride up the Bosphorus, to the edge of the Black Sea. This is the Nusretiye Mosque, in Beyoglu (still in Europe).
Suleymaniye Mosque in the distance.
Galata Tower, Beyoglu
More modern Istanbul (European side).
Palaces ring the shores of the Bosphorus. Less common are bridges = this is the Bosphorus Bridge, the first to link Europe and Asia. It was finished in 1973.
The European side, still.
Rumelihisari, a fortress built by Sultan Mehmed II in 1451-52 just before he conquered nearby Constantinople. This is still the European side, as we headed north by boat.
I believe that this is the European side of Istanbul, but it may be the Asian side.
The same as above (note the contrast between polished and downtrodden buildings).
Again, not sure if this is the Asian or European side, although this might still be the European side.
This guy is excited to be going to Asia for the first time in his young life.
Europe (left) and Asia (right) narrow in the distance, at the cusp of the Black Sea.
The hilltop ruins seen here were my destination. Needless to say, they're on the Asian side.
This was where I first set foot in Asia. It might sound silly that I focus on "European" and "Asian" Istanbul, but I assure you that this mentality is etched in the minds of the Turks as well. They even have to dial a different telephone prefix to call between the sides, even if they're visible from one another across the water.
Looking back downhill as I walk to the ruins.
Gorgeous day, by the way. Istanbul was quite temperate compared to scorching hot Greece.
Looking over to the European side.
To date, this is the only time I've seen the Black Sea, even if it's achingly out of reach beyond the land. Europe is on the left, and Asia is on the right (and in the foreground).
The hilltop ruins.
Any day you set foot on a new continent is a good day. It's even better when you can see two continents at once.
Back in Istanbul proper, I went underground to the Basilica Cistern, built in 532 AD to supply the Great Palace / Hippodrome with water. It's a marvelous and unusual tourist attraction.
It's also surprisingly photogenic (although you should bring a better camera than the one I was using).
I knew I would be leaving for Ephesus that night, but there was one more "must do" before leaving Istanbul = a Turkish bath. The one and only place for this tourist to try was the world-famous Cagaloglu Baths. It's pricey, but worth it. This is their lobby, seen from the balcony of changing rooms.
There's something wonderfully goofy about this self-portrait. Obviously I can't show you the photos inside the baths themselves, but if you can imagine an aggressive half-nude chiropractic procedure inside of a piping hot spa, you'll approximate the idea in your head.
Looking back into Cagaloglu Baths, as I exited.
Time to chill out before my long overnight bus journey, on the rooftop of my hostel.
Turkish amigos that work at the hostel.
This guy booked my trip through Turkey for me. He did a good job, too.
Another cool guy from the hostel.
Now that I'm married, I'll have to introduce my wife to Istanbul (and stay a good deal longer, hopefully).
Coming up next = Ephesus, Turkey. Stay tuned.