For our second day in this bustling city we headed back to Sultanahmet square to take in Topkapi Palace.
The grounds were a breath of fresh air with a large lawn area and towering trees.
There was detail in everything, even the walkways.
Our girls could have played in this meadow of clover for hours.
We have learned that sometimes travel with kids means taking your time and giving them a chance to run.
We eventually did convince them that a palace would probably also be pretty fun.
I came out of this day with hundreds of pictures, there was beauty at every turn.
Some of it seemed opulent like this ceiling.
And others felt clean and simple like these mini skylights.
When going through the pictures I found I was more drawn to the simple, even run down, aspects of this centuries old building.
I wouldn't say this surprised me as that usually seems to be my taste but at the time I don't know that I realized it.
I was awed by the intricate designs and over the top marble and tile but now find it falling short so am sharing very little of it.
I find that many europeans live with less than perfect architecture.
Coming from a place where building code is strict and homes are built on sweeping expanses of land to fairly unoriginal specs, I find this refreshing.
It could, however, be that I feel this way to excuse my own home's imperfections.
Here is a little taste of that marble.
I wasn't originally going to share this picture since it shows my sweet Fiona mid meltdown.
"I don't want our picture by the tap, I want it on the stairs!" she cried.
Living in close quarters can make for a disagreement or two but it quickly resolved.
And yes Fiona did eventually get that picture on the stairs but it was much less interesting.
And just look at this handsome boy sucking on his bottom lip.
This is Cedric's soothing method of choice.
I see braces in our future.
In all our travels this is the first time we had the whole gang in a photo.
Next time maybe we'll get one with the whole gang smiling and looking at the camera.
From Topkapi we headed to the Blue Mosque, first getting a glimpse of it out the window.
It broke my heart to hear of the recent attack in this area.
We felt very safe here and spent some time walking around the area.
I have been asked since if we would have gone to Istanbul had the attack happened prior to our visit.
I must say that when in Istanbul I had moments of doubt and my inner fear bubbled up time and again.
I try to appreciate my fear as a mechanism to keep me alert but wouldn't want it to rob me of such a beautiful experience.
So in the end the answer is yes, we would absolutely have gone.
The Blue Mosque was beautiful of course but what sticks out in my mind about it was the glimpse at the Muslim rituals of prayer.
There were taps lined up outside for the ritual of purification.
We were also required to remove our shoes due to their retention of impurities.
We were constantly aware of the 5 prayer times as we heard to call throughout the day.
The direction of prayer was made obvious since mosques had been built or retrofitted to face Mecca.
Another ritual we were able to participate in was covering.
Men are required to cover from their navel to knee so no challenge there.
Women on the other hand are required to cover all but their face and hands.
Tourists were held to slightly different standards but were still given a head covering if needed upon entering.
They also had long wraps for those with short skirts or tight pants.
Children were excluded from the rule but Fiona was eager to participate.
I actually found that the kids were excited by the unfamiliar.
Quite different from at home where if I cut their sandwich at the wrong angle you'd think a fairy died.
Travel seems to bring out some adventure and a little bit of malleability in them.
Which begs the question, why have we not booked a trip yet this year?