Istanbul - My first trip

Sometime in 1996 my dance friend Sonya (Esmeray) said: "I am going to Istanbul." And I replied: "I am coming along!"
Then my friend Mona said: "I am going to Cairo." To which my answer was: "I am coming along!"
By coincidence these two trips were on two following weeks, so I went to Istanbul for the first time and then took a flight to Cairo from there - also for the first time.

Just to be clear: I scanned these old pictures from my photo album and I am not going to spend many hours photoshopping them to perfection. But I will share some of the memories that go along with them.

My first impression of Istanbul was already a good one: We had our hotel in Laleli and our taxi ride there was mostly along the coast line. I thought that it was the best drive from an airport into town ever!

It didn't take us long from there to the Grand Bazaar of course. There were four of us but to my shame I have to admit that I don't remember the names of the other two, they were Sonya's friends.

See our big bags? We were serious about the shopping!

One thing I remember is that back then, whenever you said you were from Switzerland, everybody would go: "Ah, Türkyilmaz!", referring to Kubilay Türkyilmaz who was by then a well known football player in Switzerland.

A street scene from Laleli.
Culture day! Starting off with the Aya Sofya.
This building is really very big!

Then we walked over to the Topkapi Saray. Turks often get cheaper entry tickets and since Sonya was married to a Turkish man she had obtained a double citizenship.
The funny thing is that she went to the ticket counter, showed her Turkish ID and said in GERMAN: "Ich bin Türkin!" - I am Turkish. Very convincing... But she got her discount anyway.
The Basilica Cistern, one of my favorite places to visit in Istanbul.
We also were there to learn - taking classes with the famous dancer Nesrin Topkapi. She used to be a big star in the 1970s and 1980s. And it was actually two dancers from Switzerland who first convinced her to start teaching private lessons!
So we were kind of continuing the tradition when we went to take classes in her living room.
Nesrin and her little darling dog.
Next stop: Dance costumes! Back in the Grand Bazaar and downstairs in the glitter cave that was Gülseren's shop. Notice that by that time it was completely normal to smoke in a shop...
I am looking for the right costume...
Gülseren, showing off one of her creations.
I tried on several costumes and one in particular was a real hit - when I put it on, Sonya cried out: "This is YOUR costume!" so I of course I had to buy it. Actually I still own it today!
And since I was already there I got a second one:
We also made the trip to Bella Costumes - I am not sure if there was already a metro that went up there - but in any case, we took a taxi to Sisli and the driver had quite a hard time finding the address.
I got this costume then because it was so different from the usual style:
And that's by far not everything I bought - two friends had asked be to bring them costumes, one from Gülseren and one from Bella. I had to buy a big, expandable bag so I could bring everything home!
Fortunately I didn't have to take everything with me to Cairo because I would stay another night in Istanbul on my way back and could leave some of my luggage at the hotel.