Well, the week in Oman went by in a flash, and before we knew it, we were leaving behind sun and beach and heading back to Istanbul via Doha.
We pretty much spent the entire day in transit, and we flew in around 6:30 p.m., just in time for the most amazing late afternoon views of Istanbul. Seen from the air, I realize just how huge Istanbul is, and just has much it has spread. For example, look at the photo below to the right -- that body of water is the Bosporus, which means that huge swath of land stretching out into the distance is the Asian side...which is just one half of the city. One half, I can hardly believe it -- look at all of those buildings! Hello, 15 million people...
The other two photos show the historic heart of the city, from two different angles. In the photo at top left, the body of water coming toward you is the Golden Horn, which the Byzantines had sealed across with a massive chain in order to protect the old city, but of course, in the end, it didn't work. The piece of land to the right, triangle-shaped, in that same photo is Sultanahmet, and the long, square "building" is Topkapi Palace. To its right, directly south of the bright white cruise ship is Aya Sophia.
In this set of photos, what is most interesting to me, in the ones at the sides, are the amount of ships in the Sea of Marmara. They're all waiting to sail up the Bosporus into the Black Sea, and only one can go at a time. I read that these ships wait on average 20 days before they can go through because of the traffic -- isn't that insane?