Istanbul: the place where history and kebabs come from

The Istanbul skylineIstanbul is ten thousand miles away from New Zealand, literally and figuratively.

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.

Me in Istanbul with the blue mosque in the background.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.

Me eating a kebab plate in Istanbul, Turkey.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.

Me at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.People warned me before I went that they’d never let me leave without buying a Turkish rug but, strangely, no-one even tried to sell me one.

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.

Me buying watermelon from a street vendor in Istanbul, Turkey.

About Simon Petersen 505 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.

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