Thursday, July 11, 2013

Trip Pics: Turkey (and a little Lisbon)

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May and June were a whirlwind. 

Just getting settled back into my routine after a couple months of moving around! Like most of us nowadays, my day job is ninety percent desk and ten percent fun. However, I'm usually lucky enough to have that ten percent include a plane trip somewhere fun (and far!). Japan in May and Portugal and Turkey in June/July were on the docket this time around. 

My photo sharing is a little delayed (as usual) and a little backwards since I left my former iPhone in a cab in front of my house coming home from Japan. SO SAD. There is nothing worse than losing travel photos. I have become very accustomed taking most of my photos via Instagram but it's a lot easier to lose a phone than a big camera. Some food for thought!  So as I wait for my lovely travel partner to send me her stack of Japan pics I happily give you Lisbon and Istanbul....

My exposure to Lisbon was limited since I was working most of the time, but the first thing you notice when flying into the city are the red tile roofs everywhere!

My friend described Lisbon as "decaying beauty" and how true that is! But they do a good job of incorporating street art to balance it. Interesting contrast and it works!

 I walked a LOT in Lisbon....(and even more in Istanbul). Luckily I had some trusty shoes

It was pretty much impossible to get a straight line in Lisbon! Hilarious! Everything is on an angle :). 

I did not partake in the temptingly sugary Ginjinha but it looked good. I did come home with two bottles of port however, including white port

I got kicked out of this lovely used book store for taking photos. I am not totally sure what top-secret, spy books they might be housing there but if you see something suspicious, let me know.

and on to Istanbul........

Gorgeous view from Berce Hotel. Highly recommended affordable spot in the old city.

I spent a lot of time looking up in Istanbul. The Blue Mosque is omnipresent in the historic section of town. The call to prayer were surreal (did you know there is a live person reciting these prayers from sunrise to sundown?! amazing). The mosque was my guide post during my time there. I could look up, find it and I knew where I was going. 

Ultimately, the purpose of the Istanbul trip was to source a start-up product line for Territory Design (I'm so excited to share more information about that soon!) These are some beauties that I loved but didn't end up coming home with me. 

Of all the places I saw in this amazingly historic city, the Hagia Sophia was the one that stayed with me the most. I don't think there are words to describe this incredible building except to say it's walls hold more stories and history than one person could possibly grasp. It felt solid, wise and mystical. 

On the other hand, I felt the Blue Mosque was much more enjoyable from the outside than the inside. While it was beautiful, I think the whole taking the shoes off didn't work with groups of sweaty tourists ;). Fair warning! 

The last day I spent at Topkapi Palace, the famed residence of the Ottoman Empire. I was advised to go early in the morning which I promptly ignored and then promptly regretted. The two above photos were the only ones I managed without the tourist hoards

My favorite thing to do when traveling is just people watch (I know I am not alone here!) Walking the streets and frequenting the bazaars seemed the best way to do this in Istanbul. Coffee shop culture still seems to be dominated by groups of men, so sitting in a cafe a la Parisienne was not got to happen. 

That said, while Turkey might not have been the easiest place to be a solo female traveler, I can say in no uncertain terms it has been my best experience traveling alone. I'm not totally sure why but it worked for me and I would love to go back. 

The section of the city where I stayed had no inkling of protest activity. But if you crossed the Galata bridge the scene changed a bit. Walking down one of the main streets across the Golden Horn I suddenly heard a LOT of commotion and say this huge mass of people walking my way. It is slightly intimidating so I turned quickly the other way. However, in retrospect, and looking at this photo, I think it might have been a pride parade....hmmmmm, what do you think? 

My final hour in Istanbul was pure magic. In the airport of all places, standing in line and praying they would not charge me for my overweight bag (they did not!!), I heard this drumming, then a flute, a guitar and then BAM! a full fledged concert going on in the airport! A Thai musical group had set up camp near the check-in kiosk (apparently returning back home) and they were just lovely. Joined by Russian athletic club and a growing crowd who danced, watched and played percussion it was was one of the traveling moments where nothing else matters; you feel elated and intrigued by the beautiful connections and genuine goodness of the world; and everything, in that moment, makes perfect sense. 

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