It’s the fourth largest bridge in the world. It crosses the Strait of Bosphorus. Geographers consider this to be the cross-over from Europe to Asia, West to East, and Christianity to Islam. And we cross-over in pouring bloody rain.

I feel like an ice block on the outside but an electric storm on the inside. Lightning bolts of significance zap me silly.

Imagine! Waterways of Europe (and the Danube we followed in Serbia) rush into the Black Sea. Here they dilute the waterways of Russia. Together they squeeze through 32 km of this Bosphorus Strait and spread into the Sea of Marmara, at the feet of ISTANBUL. A little further along is the Aegean Sea, then the Mediterranean Sea and then the WORLD!

Istanbul stands solidly like a three-legged stool on three shores of the Bosphorus. Istanbul (Constantinople until 1453) is the casserole where Europe meets Asia, where West meets East and where Christianity meets Islam.  It jumps out in the places, the people and the products we see.  

This is where Churches become Mosques and then Churches again. This is where markets line streets, pathways and courtyards for kilometers squared and display the wares and wealth of the world. This is where people, 20 million in total, embody the most hardy, most savvy, most striking of the world’s gene pool.

Istanbul is the start (from the west) and the end (from the east) of the Silk Road. The Silk Road from Istanbul to Beijing! The trade route we are about to mosey along. It’s not a single highway, but a network of endlessly changing tracts and networks. It’s not a reel of elaborately woven silk, but an exchange of goods and ideas and development; of writing, horse riding, paper, printed money, the magnetic compass, gunpowder. A trade route, by land, that dominates for 1500 years. It takes the advent of ocean going ships, and trade by sea, to squeeze the life out of the Silk Road.

Istanbul is the mystic seam where east meets west and we even see belly dancers, dancing boys and whirling dervishes slip through …..


The Bridge over the Bosphorus.





The grand, old and new, side by side.


The Aya Sofya (the Church of the Divine Wisdom) is built by Emperor Justinian in 537 AD. It reigns as the greatest church in all of the Roman Empire and Christendom until 1453.


The inside of the Aya Sofya (see the cat at the bottom).


Then, Conqueror Mehmet brings about the ‘Fall of Constantinople’ (if you from the west) and the ‘Conquest of Istanbul’ (if you are from the east) for the Ottoman Empire. He re-builds and re-populates the city. He re-models the Aya Sofya, plasters over Justinian’s elaborate mosaics and places fine Islamic art and calligraphy on the walls.


Today, the plaster of Aya Sofya peels away to re-veal the original mosaics.


The Blue Mosque peeks above the Aya Sofya.


Sultan Ahmet who in 1615 builds the magnificent Blue Mosque, to rival the Aya Sofya, only a stone’s throw away.


The beautifully tiled blue of the Blue Mosque.



Istanbul, a city of 20 million people.


The markets & the people ….









We make a wonderful friend in Adam, an Indonesian working in Istanbul.


Sight-seeing and shopping is exhausting work!


Harry & I are so often ‘caught’ by the rain in Istanbul.


This is our ‘matchbox’ of a room in Istanbul. I’m pressed up against the wall to take this picture. Check all our stuff!


And there is barely room ‘at the inn’ for our bikes.


Here our bikes take cover under potted plants.


The east calls ….




And the rising sun (each morning!!!!) shows the way …