Mosques dominated the city skyline as the ferry made its way across the Bosphorus, moving from Asia on one side into Europe on the other. Upon arrival, I heard the Muslim call to prayer in the distance.
Suffice it to say, this backpacker has never felt further from home.
Istanbul, the city formerly known as Constantinople and Byzantium before that, is at once a bustling modern city and like something out of a medieval fairy tale. It’s the only city in the world to have been the capital of both an Islamic and a Christian empire and it shows.
Everywhere you go, you’re surrounded by history. This is a place that was once under the command of Alexander the Great and of the Roman Empire and at the mercy of the crusades. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
The food in Istanbul is a backpacker’s dream – cheap but very cheerful. And when I wasn’t dining out on houmous, shish or doner kebabs I was exploring the incredibly maze-like old town and, of course, the city’s famed Grand Bazaar.
This huge and magnificent covered-market marks a complete assault on the senses, as you walk through row after row of weird and wonderful items for sale.
What’s wrong with me? Do I not look like a man who might want to buy a rug?!
Apparently I do look like a man who likes to buy watermelon.