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"Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith" book cover with photo of author Barbara Falconer Newhall

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Is an Istanbul Trip Too Risky for You? Here’s What You’re Missing

Two older, German-speaking Turkish women wearing colorful headscarves in Istanbul. Photo by Barbara Newhall

These two Turkish women spoke fluent German; they told me they had spent many years as household workers in Germany. Most of the women we saw in Istanbul in 2009 did not wear hijab. These two had just come from prayers in the mosque and were dressed in their finest. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Jon and I took the kids to Istanbul back in pre-ISIS, pre-Arab Spring 2009. What we experienced was a energetic culture with a complicated past, great food and beautiful people. Not to mention gorgeous architecture: the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and Suleiman’s tomb, just for starters.

Gravestones with Arabic calligraphy in Istanbul. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Gravestones with Arabic calligraphy. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Lucky for me, the endless halls of the Grand Bazaar and the lively shops of the pedestrian street İstiklal Caddesi made for some serious shopping. I came home with some hand-woven rugs and my favorite thing, hand-painted china.

Maybe you’re thinking today’s not the day to fly into Istanbul Atatürk Airport. Put Istanbul on your bucket list anyway. The day will come. Humanity has a way of righting itself, I’ve noticed.

Another travel story at “The Poop on China — And the Pee.” More shopping at “Sue Johnson’s Lamps and Shades.”

The pedestrian shopping street İstiklal Caddesi in Istanbul. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The ever-bustling pedestrian shopping street İstiklal Caddesi. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The walls of a shop along the pedestrian shopping street İstiklal Caddesi in Istanbul are lined with handpainted ceramic plates from Turkey. Photo by Barbara Newhall

This İstiklal Caddesi shop was packed to the ceiling with china handpainted in Turkey. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Squares of Turkish delight candy colorfully arranged in a shop window along the pedestrian shopping street İstiklal Caddesi in Istanbul. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Squares of Turkish delight candy in a shop window along the İstiklal Caddesi. I took home a box of it. Fortunately for me, I was the only person in the family who appreciated its delicate sweetness and gentle texture. Photo by Barbara Newhall

In an Istanbul park, a street vendor offers a handwoven cloth with blue beads to a tourist. Photo by Barbara Newhall

In an Istanbul park, a street vendor offered me handwoven cloth with blue beads. It was cheap. I bought it. Photo by Barbara Newhall

In Instanbul's Grand Bazaar, a merchant sold hand-made pillows and kilim rugs. Photo by Barbara Newhall

In Instanbul’s Grand Bazaar, a merchant offered hand-stitched pillows and hand-woven rugs. I took home a kilim rug. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Exterior walls of the ancient Hagia Sohia basilica of Istanbul. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Exterior walls of the ancient Hagia Sohia basilica-turned-mosque-turned-museum. You can read more about my fraught visit to the Hagia Sophia in an earlier post. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Interior dome of the Rustem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Dome of the Rustem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Colorful chocolate candy for sale in Istanbul shop. Photo by Barbara Newhall

More candy for sale. I resisted. Photo by Barbara Newhall

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Comments

  1. Will Philipp says:

    Loved Turkey as well, Barbara! The food, people & the places in your photos—as well as our stay in a luxury cave hotel in the otherworldly Capadoccia!

  2. Katherine Philipp says:

    Love your photos! We were there in 2014. It was one of our favorite trips.

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