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Istanbul at Night and Through the Fish-Eye

The sites along the Golden Horn

The sites along the Golden Horn

My sister and friends managed a layover in Istanbul on their way home from India so I met them there for the weekend.  For whatever reason I didn’t feel like schlepping around my real camera, so I thought it would be a fun weekend to play with some iPhone attachments lenses.  I got a macro, wide angle, and fish-eye lens, but the I think only the fish-eye is really worth carrying.  In other iPhone photography developments, since Google finally released a maps app, I upgraded my ios to the most recent one and finally got the panoramic setting for the iPhone’s camera.  It’s not as easy to use as you would think, but I did manage the shot above from the Galata Tower.

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The square in the neighborhood where we stayed, looking down from the Galata Tower.

We stayed in the neighborhood of Beyoglu in another apartment I rented on airbnb.com.  If you’re traveling and don’t want to spend a lot of money for a comfy place, check out this site!  I forgot to take pics of the apartment (oops) so here’s a quick description.  It had three really spacious bedrooms with wooden inlay ceilings.  The kitchen had a washer, which the India travelers were pretty thankful for, and a neat wavy brick inlay ceiling (I know, I really should have taken a few pictures).   The place was on the second floor in a building with tiled carpets in the public hallways.  I didn’t think you could drive on our windy cobblestone street, but sure enough every once in a while we had to skooch up against the walls to allow a car to pass.  We were right down the hill from the Galata Tower, down another hill from Istiklal Street (a huge mostly pedestrian entertainment strip) and smack in the middle of awesome shops, cafes, and restaurants.

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Blue Mosque, from in front of Hagia Sofia

Since it was everybody else’s first trip to Istanbul, we did the standard tourist trek: Sultanhamet Square for Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque (which we walked by but didn’t enter), and Topkapi Palace.

And, of course, we walked through the Grand Bazaar, where everyone did an awesome job of bargaining!  Even though my visits to these spots are multiplying, on every return I find something else to marvel at.  This time, it was a really crooked column in Hagia Sofia – uh oh!!!

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I recently linked to a NYT article about hamsi, or the special anchovies from the Black Sea.  I was pretty excited to try them, but it didn’t work out since my sis and her friends are vegetarian, and my friend’s fish restaurant where I planned to chow down had the following non-meat options: salad and bread.  It’s a small neighborhood place that mostly serves fish, so it wasn’t a big surprise.  Luckily since Turkey is so big on meze, or the small salads and appetizer plates that either start or comprise an entire meal, it was really easy to find food for everybody.  Personally, I never get tired of the eggplant dishes here, and no matter where I go there’s always a new-to-me variation served.  I’ll be back to my friend’s place in January before the hamsi go out of season – Turks really romanticize the glory of eating the anchovies and drinking the raki – I want to experience it firsthand.

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Istanbul’s skyline from a terrace at Topkapi Palace. It never gets old!

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