Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Istanbul (diplomats delight)

Old town and Blue Mosque

The Spring has flown by in a flurry of work and fun and visitors, so rather than try to recap everything that's gone on, I'll start by writing about one amazing weekend in Istanbul. This will be followed by a recap of Norway's 200th year celebration of their constitution and then a trip to Edinburgh. I'll try not to get distracted by the amazingly long days and accompanying activities.

But first, Turkey, or as it should be known, diplomats delight. It seems that's this wonderful city is particularly popular among the foreign service crowd. After a couple of years of hearing, "you MUST visit Istanbul, it's amazing," I was starting to feel like I was missing out on a key prerequisite to becoming a real diplomat having never been there. So when a $200 roundtrip, non-stop ticket on Turkish airlines coincided with a Norwegian holiday, it was only a matter of convincing a friend to join me and then the trip was booked. 

So a few weeks back we headed out for a long weekend filled with shopping, mosques, food, and fun. And now I understand why so many of my colleagues are drawn to this east-west crossroads. It has all the predictability and functionality of Europe with the lower prices, spicier food, and more vibrant colors of the Middle East or Asia. Combined, this really does make Istanbul a perfect destination for those seeking a change from the everyday of Europe without having to go too much outside the comfort zone. 

Inside of the Hagia Sophia, originally built in 537. 

More Hagia Sophia - it is truly one of the most stunning buildings I've ever been inside. 

Storm clouds float in as we enjoyed the views from the Asian side of the Bosphorus

Floating down the Golden Horn with a crescent moon above. 

Hagia Sophia lit up at night.


View of the old town from the hotel roof.