Last week was a great time in Istanbul. Fortunately, our leg to Cairo was cancelled and we decided to spend the entire week in Istanbul. We arrived at the Ciragan Palace a Keminski Hotel which was right on the Bosphorus sea. I will share photos from my room which was decorated blue and gold and fit for a queen. After accepting flowers and complimentary wine and cheese, I went right down to the spa and had a hammam treatment from a beautiful girl from Bali. The Hammam treatments consist of steam room to loosen your pores, then a total body scrub, then a bath, oil treatment and massage. I crashed out after the treatment and woke up ready to take in all the sites that Istanbul had to offer.
Our first stop was the Cistern (the underground water supply) a subterranean water supply built by Byzantine emperors in 532. It has massive columns with orange lighting throughout. In the northwest corner are columns with the sculptured heads of Medusa the mythological woman who had a hair of snakes and would turn you to stone with a glance. I had my first fresh squeezed glass of pomegranate juice in the cistern cafe.
Then it was off to the blue mosque. Wow! Just a gorgeous structure centered perfectly in the city. You can hear the prayers being recited from the Koran through the minarets during prayer time each day. I was impressed how small the prayer area for women was in comparison to the men’s prayer area. The oppression of women is prevalent in the turkish society. Women are not as visible in public as they are in other countries. However, there were lots of them at Al Jamal the restaurant where I saw one of the best belly dancers ever even if he was a flaming queen!
The other sites I visited were the Topkapi Palace with the remarkable Ottoman jewels. One diamond was 86 carats surrounded by smaller ones of 49 carats. I visited Les Ottoman Hotel which is on the Asian side directly across the Bosphorus.
You can’t go to Istanbul without visiting the Grand Bazaar. Turkish delights and saffron were at the top of my shopping list. If you like to watch paint dry then you must go see the Whirling Dervish Show. The Whirling Dervish are a meditative, religious group that whirl around in circles for a solid hour to music and singing. It was the longest hour of my life and a perfect example of why men should not wear skirts!
My trip was really fun and I hope you enjoy the photos I share with you.