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My final stop on this almost-6-month journey was in Istanbul.

I did have the pleasure of spending a day there on a long layover about 3 years ago but this time around was so much better! I was able to stay about a week, meet several locals and see just about everything. The history, culture and people were all so incredible.

One of my favorite buildings was the imposing Blue Mosque. It just cut such a striking figure on the Old City skyline.

 

There is no denying the beauty of Aya Sofia or Hagia Sophia, as the Greeks call it. The origins of the building can be traced back to a Greek Orthodox church, then an imperial mosque and now a museum.

 

We also visited the more recent Sultan’s home, the Dolmabahce Palace along the Bosphorus Strait. Elaborate gates line the Strait, looking over onto the Asia side of the city.

Gateway to Asia #istanbul #turkey #dolmabahce #dolmabahcepalace #bosphorus #travel #solotravel

A post shared by Amber Francis (@defineamber) on Feb 5, 2017 at 5:08am PST

 

Topkapi Palace, Galata Tower, Taksim Square, the Underwater Basilica, a cruise along the Strait with a view of the Black Sea, the history museum, art museum and the Egyptian Market were all stops on the journey. That is to say nothing of my turkish delight consumption during my stay. I could not get enough.

In the end, I was sad my traveling was ending but also eager to see the faces of those I loved again. It was a difficult balance of excitement to get home and yearning to keep discovering and learning and absorbing it all.

There is an epilogue post with my various learnings and surprises and observations to come.

My hope is that my next big trip will include the Trans-Siberian Railway…

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