Honeymoon Travels: The Basilica Cistern

Once of the landmarks we visited while in Turkey was the Basicila Cistern, which is one of the biggest ancient storage units underground the city of Istanbul which was designed to hold water. It was surprisingly busy going in, but once we got in, we could see a huge underground cavern which would have plenty of space to hold visitors.

It was quite dim in the cistern, so I wasn’t able to take clear pictures with my camera and had to use my mobile camera, but the view was pretty spectacular and there was a very eerie, mysterious atmosphere to the place.

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The most striking part of the cistern and its pillars were two Medusa heads which were carved into the bottom of two pillars – one was upside down, and one was placed on its side, apparently, deliberately so. There’s a lot of ideas why this was done, but no one really knows for certain. I noticed a lot of Medusa motifs around this city; restaurants, shops, artwork and symbols in a lot of discreet places, which I thought was an interesting link to Greek mythology, and probably points to the diverse history of traders and inhabitants of Istanbul over theΒ  last few centuries.

It was fun to see another side to Istanbul, the quiet, atmospheric and mysterious caverns which gave tourists a chance to wander around and enjoy some peace. There was also an opportunity to dress up in traditional Turkish costumes and take photographs in a photo booth on the side, which looked fun, although we didn’t do this because it was busy and I was a little embarassed!

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Harlequin Oddities Found About Town: The Hidden Rainbow Stairs in Istanbul

One of the highlights of our visit in Istanbul was the discovery of the rainbow stairs, which were hidden away on the streets between the Old City and the New City. I’d read about these stairs months ago but had forgotten about them until my husband and I went past them while on the Istanbul trams, which went by in a flash of colour.

We managed to find our way back to the stairs (and there’s more than one!) after winding alleys and sloping streets which we cut through to get to the main roads, and finally saw bright rainbow colours (and some other avid photographers!) I’ll let the pictures do the talking, the colours were as bright as they look, the stairs went up really high (I couldn’t reach the top) and there were plenty of hidden corners and graffiti art on the walls and side alleys.

There’s stairs like these all over Turkey – have you seen any?

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Honeymoon Travels: The Blue Mosque & the Hagia Sofia, Istanbul

The most iconic places in Istanbul are the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. Surprisingly, we found that when we asked the locals where the Blue Mosque was, they didn’t know what we meant until we called it the Sultan Ahmet (similarly, I’d been pronouncing Hagia Sofia wrong, which is pronounced Aya Sof-ya).

Both of these places are beautiful relics of history, each rich with art and stories which span over a long period of time, and iconic landmarks of the Ottoman era. Naturally these were at the top of my list of places to visit in Istanbul, and not just mine, both places were very busy!

Below is the Sultan Ahmet mosque, which is called the Blue Mosque because of the beautiful blue tiles and patterns in the interior – it is still an active mosque and open for prayers, so it is also a beautifully peaceful place because of how serene it is inside and how well looked after it is. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, it was quite dim inside though so the colours are less vivid in my photos.

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The Hagia Sofia is directly opposite the Sultan Ahmet mosque, and is different in that it is now a museum – it used to be a church, then was turned into a mosque by invading Ottomans, before it was restored to its current state. I love that it looks pink from the outside, and that the interior strives to maintain the older, Christian art alongside the Islamic art pieces. Because it is a museum there are plenty of tours which take visitors around, and we managed to go up to the second floor which was a lot more cobbley and slopey, but also very atmospheric.

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It’s amazing to see just how close these two iconic landmarks are to each other – I tried to take a panoramic shot to show how short a walk they are from each other. I like that they face each other and that citizens openly visit both places – it really symbolises the contentment of this place. Istanbul is made up of Old City and New, and European Istanbul and Asian, which really reflects in the way these two are positions, they face Qibla (the direction of Mecca) and yet allow visitors of all religions, nationalities and origins to come and see their beauty.

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This was a very memorable visit for me, particularly because of how grand the two places are. There are certainly bigger, more beautiful and more luxurious places in Istanbul than these two places, but it is clear that these two are icons which appeal to everyone for their beauty and what they represent.

Honeymoon Travels…Turkish Delight

I haven’t been posting for a few days, but dont worry, I haven’t disappeared! My husband and I went on a delayed honeymoon last week to the wonderful city of Istanbul, and we only just got back! I’m still putting together our pictures (we took over a thousand on my camera!) but here’s one of my favourite – a bookshop that we found in Istanbul in the New City – mixed together with old and new books, art work and lots of old machinery which I though was beautiful among the winding stairs.

Our holiday in Istanbul was in a word, brilliant, and it was a big achievement for me since I haven’t been abroad for years and this was something new for both of us. We made the most of our time there, and literally tried to visit everywhere and see everything – naturally we missed out a few places, but we saw some amazing sights and ate some even more amazing food.

More pictures coming soon!

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My Mehndi Night!

Mehndi laga ke rakhna, doli saja ke rakhna
Lene tujhe o gorii aaeynge tere sajana

Put your henna on and keep the wedding palanquin decorated.
Beautiful girl, your beloved will come to take you away.

My mehndi (or Henna) night was a really special night, and one which was surpringly fun for me because of all the silly posing, dancing and amazing cakes and food we had. I’ll be posting more pictures soon, but thought I’d post a picture which sums up the night for me in a pretty simple way – this is me doing twirls outside my mehndi hall and enjoying myself in the street!

More pictures coming soon once I get more of the professional ones!

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Weekly Burnt Tongues Links

It’s weekly links time! It’s been a while since I’ve done these, and it took me ages as well because I had to keep stopping and starting! But hope you had a good weekend anyway, I’ll be off planning my next diary entry.

Nour Saleh is a an artist who wears a hijab, so when she took part in a Draw Yourself challenge on Tumblr, she incorporated a headscarf into various superhero designs – I love some of these, time to jazz up my hijab!

Want to ask Deadpool a question? You can now.

I love this series of beautiful pictures which blend reality with fantasy – a beautiful impossible dreamy series by Erik Johansson (and his website is also very cool as well).

This artist has come supercute and superfunny anecdotes – but this one was my favourite.

I thought this was cute – Lord of the the Rings Middle Earth public service announcement posters – you think we could stick some of these up in London?

I want to make these. Aren’t they beautiful? More importantly I would like to eat these.

Hooray for librarians. Us book-nerds can save the world too.

It’s not a weekly links post without making fun out of Disney – this one says that Disney princesses are too skinny. I don’t know, I was too busy coveting their long hair and their libraries (Beauty and the Beast, yaaay).

Meet Walter Wheat, maker of Breaking Bad treats. Meth Crunchies anyone?

These are just cute.

Some cool conversations overheard in London. Never fails to entertain.

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Throwback Thursday: Invisible Pirates at Lulworth Cove

I’ve been a little out of the picture lately, but I do have lots to post about! In the meantime, enoy this favourite memory of mine, when we visited Lulworth Cove which was a beautiful, peaceful place with amazingly blue water. We didn’t see any pirates, but the place did remind me of old Enid Blyton books where the heroes hid behind cliffs watching pirates using coves to hide their stash. Or something.

I’ve made you want to go read an Enid Blyton book now, haven’t I?

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