My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

An overview of our 9+ days, (10 nights) in Istanbul, Turkey

Day 1; Dec.25

  • LandedIMG_8624
  • Had to pay 15 Euro each for visa
  • Driver was late but eventually arrived and drove us to apt. on the Anatolian side, near Galata Tower
    IMG_8721 Galata Tower
  • Took 45 minutes b/c it was rush hour, sure glad we were not in a cab.
  • Explored local street, Istikal Street, for dinner

Day 2: Dec.26

  • Got cash out of ATM
  • Bought card for public transportation for 6 TL
  • Added 20 TL to it for rides, we could both use one card (added  80 TL more over time, for total of 100 TL or $60 for 10 days, or $30 per person for the 10 days, not bad)
  • Took tram over to the European Side where the Blue Mosque and Aya Sophia are located.
  • Walked to Bazar
  • Back to our side of the by crossing over the Galata bridge.
    IMG_8722 100’s of fishermen daily on the Galata Bridge!
  • Toured Galata Tower 12 TL piece and stayed til sunset, great viewIMG_8694

Day 3  Dec. 27

Day 4  Dec. 28

Day 5  Dec. 29

Day 6  Dec. 30

Day 7  Dec. 31

  • Toured Topkapi Palace 25 TL per person and NO map, really???IMG_2137IMG_9111
  • After tour walked to AqueductIMG_2448 IMG_2447
  • Got scammed by a shoe shine guy.
    IMG_9151 this guy dropped his brush so we thought we were helping by returning it and instead we got scammed and had to pay for a shoe shine!
  • After this walked to tram and took it home
  • Since it was NY Eve we ate in a restaurant not street food, quite yummy
  • Took nap and headed out for NY Eve about 11:15
  • Taksim Square had well over 100,000 people but quite mellow.
    IMG_2459 Happy New Year. A mellow celebration with 100,000 others!

Day 8 Jan 1

Day 9 Jan 2

Day 10 Jan 3

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Galata Tower and Galata Bridge


While in Istanbul we stayed in an apartment over near the Galata Tower.   As we crossed the Galata Bridge the first day and saw the palace, and mosques behind us we were thrilled that we had chosen to stay on this side of the sea. IMG_8879

We decided to take the tour of the tower and watch the sunset over the city from there.  The tower is 220 ft tall, and has 9 floors. When it was built was the tallest structure in Istanbul.  It sits on a hill that is and was the city’s tallest structure when it was built. Because near the top of the hill so really sticks out when looking at the horizon.IMG_8715 IMG_8708 IMG_8707 IMG_8694 IMG_8693 IMG_8690

We thought we’d have to climb stairs to get to the balcony near the top, but there was an elevator that took us to the top.  Simple enough, but once up there, it was crowded, and hard to ‘hold’ a good spot.  Conveniently they let you off on the restaurant floor, though prices of the food were much higher than elsewhere.

The original tower was built in 1348.  By 1717 the tower was used as a place to watch for fires in the city.  Ironically in 1831 a fire damaged much of the tower.  IMG_8684 IMG_2154 IMG_2151 IMG_2155IMG_8682

We only walked up the hill to our place one time after either walking across OR taking the tram across the Galata Bridge.  After we discovered the Tunnel (part of the tram system) we rode that up each day though we’d typically walk down the hill to the tram.  Each ride cost something, so when we could we saved $ by walking.   IMG_8893

The Istanbul subway system is the 2nd oldest subway system in the world, the oldest is London.IMG_8982  The tunnel we rode is one of the oldest links in their systemIMG_9074.  We would exit at the end of Istikal Street, the busy street our apartment was near.  I’d say we walked that 2-4 times daily enjoying the 1000’s of locals (and tourists) that were busy shopping and exploring the area.

The Galata Tower area is certainly worth exploring and the Galata Bridge is full of energy and liveliness from sun up to sun down.  The fishermen line the bridge day and night and we were shocked by the size of the fish most men were catching, they were TINY. IMG_8722IMG_8728 IMG_8727  IMG_8725IMG_8726IMG_8729 IMG_8724

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Chora Church; a MUST SEE in Istanbul


We had read that the Chora Church was one of the best buildings to see while in Istanbul.  However, it is a bit off the beaten path so takes a bit of planning to get there!  It was actually not difficult, just one of the first times we had to plan something out but figuring out which train to take and then the connections needed.IMG_2601

This was originally built in the early 5th century as a monastery outside of the walls of what was then Constantinople.  The original name translated to ‘the church of the Holy Redeemer in the Fields’ as it was out in ‘country’.   Sadly in the 12th century an earthquake destroyed much of the original structure.  The rebuild was done in many phases, with most of the mosaics inside being completed between 1315 – 1321. Eventually the church was converted to a mosque.IMG_9326IMG_2608 IMG_2609 IMG_2610 IMG_2611

There are 3 sections of the church and all are filled with beautiful mosaic works.  In 1958 it became a museum allowing the public to enjoy the beauty of the artwork.  sorry there are so many pictures, but it was just so beautiful, it is hard to narrow down to less.  Enjoy AND make an effort to get there!

Chora Museum is closed on Wednesday.

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Hagia (Aya) Sophia


entry hallway



Jan. 1, 2013

Hagia (Aya) Sophia was originally built as an Orthodox basilica, then a Roman Catholic cathedral and later a mosque.  It has been a museum since 1935.IMG_2479IMG_2476

Visiting here is a must while in Istanbul.  There is so much beauty in the structure and the mosaic pieces of artwork that are masterful. At one time they were covered by plaster but have been uncovered for visitors to see.  IMG_2515 IMG_2527 IMG_2518 IMG_2517

It was built from 532 to 537 and has a very large dome at the front.   At the time it was the largest dome ever to be built and it is still studied today as it is considered such an architectural masterpiece.

It was the largest cathedral for 1000’s of years.  In 1453 it was converted to a mosque with the alter being removed and many of the mosaic decor  plastered over. Minarets were added as well as the minbar where prayers are delivered and mihrab an arch in the walls where Muslims face during prayer. IMG_2511 IMG_2509 IMG_2508 IMG_2506 IMG_2505 IMG_2503 IMG_2501 IMG_2499 IMG_2498  IMG_2496IMG_2497 IMG_2493  IMG_2491 IMG_2487IMG_2492

There was a huge earthquake    in 989 that caused one of the domes to crumble.   The repair took over 6 years but there was a lot of additional interior paintings and mosaics; Christ on the dome, the Virgin Mary holding Jesus with Peter and Paul on either side of her.


Hagia Sophia is closed on Monday!

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