The cruise arrived in Istanbul, Turkey in the morning on Sept. 20 and left the following afternoon about 1pm. It was the only port where we we docked overnight. This is one of the views as we came into port. It is a city with a lot of character and life!
I wasn't sure if I would be able to find my way to the sites on my own, so my plan was to take an excursion early in the day and then wander back to the ship by myself. If I got lost I would have until the next day to find my way back to the ship. lol The only problem with taking a tour is that you have to move along with everyone at the same pace...not great for sketching.
Our first stop was the Blue Mosque or as it is known in Istanbul, the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet. We stood on line for about an hour so I took some photos...
and sketched one of the turrets while we were waiting.
Since we had so little time before having to move on from each spot, I did several small sketches outside and inside the Blue Mosque and at the Mosque of Hagia Sophia (which is now a museum). Small worked well.
Here is a photo of me (sketchbook in hand) with one of the mosques behind me.
Our next stop was a Turkish rug factory. The rugs were beautiful but who was going to buy a rug? lol I did like watching the young woman who did the weaving demonstration.
Then it was on to the Grand Bazaar. At this point I told the guide that I was leaving the group to explore on my own. I had been given instructions on how to walk back to the ship and was ready. Of course I had to sign a paper saying I wasn't going to return to the ship on the bus so that they were covered. He was a bit surprised that I was so adventurous, but told me if I asked for directions I wouldn't have any problem. The Grand Bazaar was so crazy with people selling things inside and outside. Like many places there were vendors outside selling just about anything...and mostly counterfeit I'm sure. Many of the vendors were kids.
I ventured inside and knew there was no way I could sketch inside with all the booths and people, so I sat outside by one of the gates to sketch. I was sitting on a ledge holding onto everything I owned. lol Tourists and vendors kept coming over to see what I was doing. Several teenage boys who had tried selling perfume to me kept watching me sketch and talking to me. Finally they sat down on my right and just watched...and a cat sat down on my left and put it's head in my lap. I used artistic license and only put in about 1/100th of the people that were outside the gate.
Then I went inside, took photos and shopped. It was great and exactly what I expected...but with more color and energy!
There were pastries and sweets...yum!
I meandered and shopped for a long time inside the bazaar and then along the narrow streets between the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. I followed my directions to get back to the ship and stopped by the bus station to sketch the New Mosque from there.
By this time I was exhausted from walking and I still wasn't back at the ship. I could see the ship but finding the correct street to bring me back to the entrance of our docking section wasn't easy.
The following morning I had the correct route down pat and ventured out to sketch again. I had seen this fun, colorful boat that I just had to sketch. It was docked by the bridge and the bus terminal and they sold fish sandwiches from the boat. I just loved it...but not the smell of the fish. lol
After this sketch I walked around the Spice Market a bit and made sure to spend the last of my Turkish money before leaving. If I had time it would have been a fun place to sketch.
Then it was farewell to Istanbul! I really enjoyed it!!!