I woke up this morning humming “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and “Homeward Bound”, so I guess you can tell what this post is about!!!
As we waited for the breakfast buffet to open, we had to take a few photos of the lobby
and this wonderful Sultan’s chair…..
We said Good-bye to our favorite waiter who grew to know exactly how we liked our tea and coffee and exactly how many we would drink of each. He would also run to get bottles of water anytime he saw us leaving to go out walking!!!!
With Turkish coffee, there is always a bit of sludge in the bottom of the cup and the trick is to learn to stop ONE sip before you hit bottom…….
Alternately, you have a glass of water at the ready for clearing the sludge taste from your mouth!!!!!
Before we leave Istanbul, let me mention a couple of other observations that haven’t made it into previous posts…..
When the Imam’s are doing the call to prayer there are normally no pauses between the lines, but at the Blue Mosque, they pause after each line to allow the other nearby Mosques to “answer”. We likened this to the “GEORGIA”… … “BULLDOG” chant that is heard on football Saturdays in Athens!!!!
Also, I mentioned earlier that we had been enjoying watching several baby seagulls. The older “child” was located on a roof across from our room and we loved watching the movements of “Samantha” (we decided that she was a girl) and her “Parentals”. On one of our Terrace Times, we were watching as she started flapping her wings and leaping higher and higher into the air. Then, as we watched, she took off and flew to a neighboring roof. Immediately she was followed by both of her parents and they kept watch and protected her as she rested and prepared for the next flight.
We wondered the next morning if we would see her again, but sure enough, she arrived on the roof, demanding food and attention (typical teen-age girl)!!!! We enjoyed watching as she continued to grow and find her wings and especially enjoyed seeing how the Mom and Dad Seagulls responded!!
We took a taxi to the Airport, checked in with our THREE bags (two at 50 pounds and one at 52 pounds), and boarded our plane.
We had a comfortable flight into JFK, enjoying the extra legroom with the Emergency Exit seats, and arrived almost an hour early. We were concerned that we would have to sit on the plane while waiting for a gate to open up, but instead they brought busses out and took us straight to the Passport control area.
We cleared customs, found our gate and grabbed a bite to eat before the next, very short, flight into Atlanta. That flight also landed very early!!! We were met, in our car, by Brian and Amber, dropped them off at their apartment and then made the one hour trip home.
We both slept well. However we both woke up in the middle of the night and, after much thinking, were happy to realize that we were in our own bed, in our own house!!!
This trip has been a wonderful mix of rural and urban, work and play, spicy and sweet (food that is), and friends, both real and Facebook!!!
We had two goals for the day. The first was to get our suitcases packed for our return journey and the second was to find a Lahmacun restaurant.
OK…..first task… PACK. Let me say that as we shopped in the past 9 days, we would put the bags under the bench in our closet. There was a large paper bag sitting in the front and the other bags were hidden behind it. You know….out of sight, out of mind!!!!
This was my first hint that we might be in trouble…
After we laid it out, we KNEW that we were in trouble!!!…..
I had brought an extra duffle bag that could be used as a carry-on but we were worried that: 1)it wouldn’t hold everything, 2) it wouldn’t be easy to carry, and 3) it would be considered too big for carry-on baggage.
So, Michael got onto the Delta Frequent Flyers site and found, much to our glee, that as a Silver Medallion member, he could check two bags for free.
This called for a quick tram ride to the Bazaar area and the purchase of….. ….a suitcase even bigger than our first two!!!
So, after two hours of careful packing, we ended up with three suitcases and everything packed. We even found a little bit of spare room….more about that later!!
Now that the packing task was finished, we figured that we could spend the rest of the day wandering around Istanbul some more. We had loved our time at the Spice Bazaar, so headed that way again.
After looking for a while, we decided that it was time for tea and coffee so we stopped at the shop we had visited yesterday and asked the proprietor for a good place to go. He directed us to a small “walk-up” cafe on one of the side “streets” of the Bazaar. We chose to sit outside and enjoy the drinks……
….and this view of the backside of the New Mosque……
We started walking down one street and came across this wonderful statue…..
which indicated that we had entered the fabric and garment district. I spent a few minutes looking around but didn’t find much to buy.
We were ostensibly trying to get to a small Mosque that was listed in Ricky Boy’s (our name for Rick Steves) book. We didn’t have a map but were sure that this was the right place…..
But alas, when we finally wound around and found it, we were disappointed to find that it was a warehouse/shopping area.
The next decision was whether to continue to look for the suggested Mosque, but tiredness won out and we simply wandered back toward the tram line.
We walked down one corridor that I named “Party Central” because every shop sold decorations and items needed to throw a great party. I even found out that these red “baskets” that have fueled my imagination are actually used when women have Henna Parties (where the tattoos are applied).
I had wanted to eat Lahmacun one last time before we left Turkey, but had found that it was hard to find a shop that served it. Apparently this is because Lahmacun is considered to be a fairly low-brow food that “good people” wouldn’t eat!! We had seen a couple of shops in one area as the tram passed, so we walked back there and found such a shop. As we looked at the menu, we were surprised to see the cost was 2.5 Lira ($US1.30)! So, for 11 Lira ($US5.50) we had two Lahmacun, Shepherd’s salad (tomatoes, cucumbers and basil), wonderful bread and drinks…..Low Brow indeed!!!!
Since we were back on the tram, we decided to travel past our hotel and visit the Grand Bazaar one last time
Besides the wealth of goods to purchase, I am totally amazed at the architecture of the building…..
While walking along, we found the PERFECT item to fill that little bit of spare space in the suitcase……a Nargile of Michael’s very own!!!!
We got ourselves COMPLETELY lost in the Bazaar but finally emerged to walk back to the hotel, and buy a dress for me. After all, we needed something soft to wrap around the water pipe!!!
We returned to relax at the hotel, but there was still one thing that I wanted to do and that was to spend some time in the Blue Mosque. Since it was about an hour before the afternoon prayer, I was hoping that the tour groups would already be gone. Fortunately I was right and there was no line at all to enter the Mosque!!!
I spent about 20 minutes just standing at the back of the building and observing. As always, I noticed the arches, domes and light……
…..SO many cool shapes and colors….. I also watched as one man went thru his prayers, moving thru these positions…..
There were several Fathers and Grandfathers teaching their children or grandchildren how to pray. This young man was dressed for the occasion…
I loved the design of the chandelier……
Almost every inch of the Blue Mosque is covered with tiles or windows…..
I reluctantly pulled myself away from this peaceful place and decided to hit one last souvenir shop. I was glad that I did because they had little spoons to go with the tea cups that I bought and heaven knows that you can’t drink Turkish Tea without the little spoons to stir the sugar cubes!!!!
For our final meal in Istanbul, we decided to return to Buhara 93 and enjoy the wonderful bread and food one last time…..
Michael enjoyed another Pide……
…..while I had the Beef Shish (K-Babs)…..
Yes Ricky Boy, we recommend it too, but maybe with a corrected spelling!!….
We relaxed on the hotel terrace one last time and enjoyed watching as the sun slowly sank
I love how the last rays of sun light up certain areas of the scenes…..
And then, at last, the sun was gone and it was time for our journey to end……
On Monday morning we were met by Kathy again and headed out for our “Foodie tour” where she had promised us that we would “graze” our way thru the Spice Markets…..YUM!!!!
We took the tram to Eminonu station and walked past the “New Mosque” which was where we had gotten lost several days ago.
There was a huge plaza filled with pigeons and, of course, there were vendors selling trays of bird seed……
I had wondered about the Doner Kabob restaurants that dotted the area. Did they make their own meat layers or did they buy it pre-made. This photo seems to answer that question……
As we entered the Spice Markets we were greeted by the cacophony of smells and the usual mixture of shops with each having a specialty…..
……olives (didn’t know there were so many kinds)…….
……sausages……. …not sure what I like best in this photo…..all of the many nuts for sale or this guy checking out his hair in a shop mirror……
….lungs, stomach or feet anyone???………
….spices and grape leaves……
…henna for a tattoo party……
….special ingredients for teas…….
…..or Turkish Delight!!!…….
The Spice Market was originally a medicinal market and this was one of the first pharmacies. This gentleman is qualified to dispense herbs and other medicines…..
Not far down the corridor we entered this wonderful shop and spent about 30 minutes buying all sorts of delightful things……
He had huge slabs of Turkish Delight….the red one is Pomegranate based….
The proprietor carefully bagged up our choices and then vacuumed sealed them so that they could enter the country. Here he is dishing up a bag of dried figs….. When I pointed to tea leaves and said that I wanted to purchase some, he pointed to a bag and said that it was better quality AND cheaper, and was what the local’s would buy.
This is a shot of one of the corridors of the Spice Market. Interestingly, we were confronted with hawkers much more here than in the Grand Bazaar…guess we looked hungry!!!!
The next stop was to the shop that, according to Kathy, has the best Baklava in town. If nothing else, they certainly have the best selection!!!!!
We picked out our choices and headed upstairs to enjoy our treats with some hot drinks. They were all very sweet and very yummy.
I loved this Turkish Coffee container…….
We moved out of the Bazaar building and walked along the paths to see the outside stores. This may look like nuts, but it is actually pet foods…..
…and medicinal leeches of all sizes are available…..
….and this garden shop sells seeds and onion sets……
We continued walking and ended up in the fish marketplace which is right on the bay. I loved the way these fish were artistically displayed…….
I was also impressed with the disposal system of water channels that ran from the shops and out to sea…..
At this point it had been about 15 minutes since we had eaten so Kathy proclaimed that it was time for more food. Fish this time. She ordered a plate of Hamsi (Sardines) that were being freshly fried as we watched…….
We sat at our table, complete with newsprint placemats and looked at this huge plate of fish.
What to do….what to do…… make sardine sandwiches with a leaf of Rocket, a slice of onion and a squeeze of lemon……
Here we are before starting the feast…….
As we waddled away we passed two noteworthy items. The first is a tea tray that I have described in earlier posts. These are used to ferry cups of tea to the various shopkeepers……
I also liked this well-used scale and weight set……
We ambled further along and ended up in a hardware area and found these bags of wonderful colored powder…….
Kathy explained that this is how paint is colored. You buy the base paint and then add your own dye powder. I’m sure that it makes for some interesting colors……
In preparing for our ferry ride to the other side of Istanbul, Kathy suggested that we purchase a Simit to feed the seagulls with. Knowing how good they are, it was very hard not to eat it myself….. We once again hopped on the Ferry and headed across the Bosphorous Strait to the Asian side of Istanbul. Kathy pointed out various landmarks as we sailed, including this hospital where Florence Nightingale served during the Crimean war……
As we were coming into port, I saw a streak of grey moving in the water and realized that there were several dolphins gamboling around the ship. As they continued to play, more and more people moved to our side of the Ferry and the mood lightened visibly. Nobody can be mad when dolphins are around!!
Since it had now been over 30 minutes since our last food ingestion, Kathy suggested a fun spot for a touch of something to drink. She and Michael both had coffee, but I opted for lemonade that had mint in it. It was cool and very refreshing . Besides, who can say no to a curly straw!!…… We sat in an upstairs room that had interesting, eclectic furniture….. We walked past this tray of stuffed mussels and asked Kathy if we should try one. She smartly talked us out of this particular tasty treat…..
OK, walk for 10 more minutes and then stop at the CIYA Cafe and have another meal. Kathy ordered mezze (appetizer) size servings of several items …..
…..well, TEN items to be exact……
We enjoyed eating out of metal bowls and trying various Kurdish delicacies such as Meatballs and Cherries, Stewed Artichoke, Yoghurt Soup with Meatballs, Bulghar Balls, Stuffed Grape Leaves, Stewed Spinach, Yoghurt, Celery Root and Stewed Beans.
At the end of the meal we were brought glasses of lemonade and fruit juices to finish off the dining experience.
And in case we were still hungry, Kathy took us past the “Roasted Sheep head” stand……. …and thru the pickle shop featuring everything from Oranges to Pine Cones….
At this point, we were ready to sit and relax and quickly found a Nargile shop where we could do just that…..and smoke a water pipe at the same time. Kathy sat with us for a while and, after making sure that we knew our way back to the dock, said goodbye.
As we walked back to the dock, I saw several men selling little slips of paper. I found out the next day that they were lottery tickets!!!
It was extremely windy and I can’t imagine how he kept them from blowing away!!
As we traveled back to our hotel, we discussed the fact that we really enjoyed the Asian side of Istanbul more than the European side, probably because it is so much less touristy!!
The day ended with the requisite “Terrace Time”!! We needed all of the rest time possible because tomorrow WE PACK!!!!
On Sunday morning, Michael and I took the tram to the Bosphorous and then grabbed a ferry to cross the Strait, placing us on the Asian side of Turkey….that’s right, one country, two continents!!!
We stepped on land, took a photo and said “Welcome to Asia”!!!
We were met there by a contact name Nick who is from the US but is studying in Istanbul and involved with the local Presbyterian Church. We also met a group of students who were spending the summer in Bulgaria but had come for a visit as well.
Once we were all there, we walked about 15 minutes and arrived at “All Saints Moda Kilisesi”
This small church was built in 1878 ….
and had beautiful stained glass windows in the front.It was a small church, with just 11 rows of pews that would hold about 90 people.
We had wondered if the service would be entirely in Turkish and these two items were hints that we might not understand much…..
However, the pastor (Turgay) worked hard to help us understand the gist of what was being sung and said. As the hymns were sung, he would walk down the center aisle toward the back where the “American’s” were sitting and would begin singing the songs in English.
The service began promptly at 11:00am with the chiming of the church bell and chanting by a young man with a wonderful voice.
It continued with haunting singing, some of which had a “Gypsy” feel to it. Several of the songs started out slowly but then got faster and faster as they repeated the verses. There was a lot of swaying and holding up of hands.
The lyrics were shown in the Order of Worship and were actually easy to follow, but they sang too fast for us to really keep up. Interestingly, we found that pronunciations’ basically followed the spelling so that it was easy to follow.
When Turgay preached, he would switch to English every so often to catch us up!!! He also paced up and down the aisle as he spoke and made eye contact with everyone in the congregation….no sleeping allowed here!!!
At the end of the service, they did a special recognition of all of the Father’s in the congregation…..including Michael. In this photo, Michael is receiving a red rose from a little girl (maybe 4 years old)……
After the service was over, we walked down the road and found a place to eat lunch. The restaurant had an Western feel to it, but not in the same manner as the touristy joints closer to our hotel. Instead, it seemed to have been westernized for the Turks to enjoy. We both had Kabobs with some of the best French Fries that we have had in a long, long time…..
We were supposed to be back at the church at 2:00 and had some extra time so we walked past the church and on down to the seaside and found just what we wanted…..a coffee/tea cafe. And, even better, it was outdoors and we could enjoy the bay views……
We returned to the church at the appointed time and listened while Turgay talked to the other group and told them about the history of the church and the ministries that they were involved with.
While we were listening we were brought delicious cups of Turkish tea and sipped happily as we listened. At one point, a big cat wandered in thru the side door and slowly made his way around the pews. I lost sight of him and was startled when he rubbed up against my foot!!!
Turgay wanted us to learn about the Muslim faith and understand the differences between it and Christianity so he organized a question and answer time with the Imam from the neighboring Mosque.
Once again, we entered a serene, beautifully adorned building…..
We were told that the women did not have to wear head coverings, but I did anyway.
The first thing that they did was to read two related passages from the Bible and from the Quran. The Imam had to dress in his special attire and retrieve the Quran from a special place before he could read the text to us…..
He told us that the Quran is written in a poetic style which makes it easier to memorize. When it is read, it is in a sing-song chant format.
He also told us that he had attended an “Imam High School” where he received training as a Muslim leader. He did not attend seminary, but the younger Imam’s were receiving additional education now.
It was obvious as they talked that the Imam and Turgay were good friends and each had a respect for the other one.
I asked him a question about the “Call to Prayer” and he told me that the same words are said each time…..
“Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Most Great) – recited FOUR times. “Ash-hadu an la ilaha ill-Allah” (I bear witness that there is none worthy of being worshipped except Allah) – recited TWO times. “Ash-hadu Anna Muhammad-ar-Rasoolullah” (I bear witness that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah) – recited TWO times. “Hayya ‘alas-Salah” (Come to prayer) – recited TWO times. “Hayya ‘alal-falah” (Come to success) – recited TWO times. “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Most Great) – recited TWO times.
In the Morning Prayers the following phrase is added: “As-salatu khairum minannaum” – (Prayer is better than sleep) recited Two times.
He also told us that the cadence and tune is set, however you can hear that everyone has their own embellishments!!! He told us that either the Imam or the Imam’s helper is the one to make the call to prayer. He then demonstrated….
Sets of prayer beads were scattered around the mosque. The Imam told us that there were 99 beads in the set, one for each name of Allah. I had seen shorter sets that had 33 beads on them so I guess that you go around 3 times…..
I thought that this window was beautiful….. Before we left, Turgay and the Imam called for a group photo…..
We walked back to the bay and caught the ferry back to the European side of Istanbul. As we were traveling we could hear the 5:30 call to prayer from the many mosques all over the city……
We returned to the hotel and did a little bit of “Terrace Time”. Another wonderful day!!!!
On Saturday we had two things to celebrate. First, it was my birthday, and secondly,Michael was finished with all of his work in Turkey and could spend the last few days being a tourist.
As we talked about what we wanted to do, I suggested visiting the Suleyman the Magnificent Mosque and Michael suggested visiting the Old Book Market. Since you had to walk thru one to get to the other, we figured that our itinerary was set!!!
The book market was an interesting place, but there wasn’t a lot for us Non-Turkish speaking patrons.
…but it was still fun to look……
Once again, I was enamored with the fountains and wash basins that appear when least expected.
The most interesting thing is that all of these basins are fully functional and are used by one and all…..
After leaving the book market, we kept walking past Istanbul University and ended up in an area of town where tourists are not abundant (ie….our favorite type of sightseeing).
We passed a store that sported shelves of bags of bling….snaps, mirrors, beads, etc and also had these industrial quality “Be-Dazzlers” out front…….
When I looked inside, I could see hundreds of drawers, each showing a different type of button, bead, closure or bling.
I was in heaven as I open the drawers and took a few here and a few there. Each of the bins had a different price on them and I felt that I should keep them all separate, but the shopkeeper motioned for us to keep them together and gave us a bowl to put them in. I thought that he was just going to weigh them all and charge me one price for everything.
However, when I had finished, he poured them in a bag, sealed it tight so that nothing could escape and then motioned that there was no cost. When we protested he said “just a little money” and smiled.
It is once again an example of the kindnesses that we have been shown from the Turkish people!!!!
We now found ourselves in an area that held kitchen supply stores and happily made our way into one to purchase tea cups (well, actually glasses). The shopkeeper was very helpful although he spoke only broken English. He was confused when we kept saying that we were looking for saucers to go with the tea cups, but once he figured out what we wanted, he kept saying the word “saucers” over and over again. Unfortunately, we had taught him to pronounce the word with a good Georgia accent!!!!
He showed us the book that he is using to learn English and we enjoyed our few minutes with him.
We continued down the road and ended up in a shop that sold kitchen equipment. This time we were in the market for a Turkish teapot. I found one that I liked here but we didn’t want to carry it with us for the rest of the journey so asked if we could come back and pick it up later.
We continued down the street and entered the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent…….
It is a beautiful Mosque, with lots of bright pastel colors. Most of Mosque’s are decorated with blues and this was so refreshing……
I loved this photo showing this woman sitting and reading the Quran. The fencing separated the worshipers from the tourists…..
Most of the Mosque carpets have subtle lines in them but this one leaves no doubt as to where you should sit and which way you should face!!!
Once again, I am enamored with the arches, windows and light…..
As we were leaving we passed the Men’s station for cleansing…..
We found a great place to view the Bosphorus and I loved the juxtaposition of the blue sea and the domed buildings…..
We returned to our “teapot” store and this time met, not only the proprietor but also his cousin who was currently living in New York. We were offered tea and immediately a boy came in bearing tea cups for all of us. We had a great time talking to the two cousins and were pleased with our purchase of a two-tier teapot.
As we were getting ready to leave, I asked them where they would go to eat in the area (ie….somewhere that would not have a lot of people like us) and we were immediately sent to a small cafe located about a block away.
As we walked up to the front door, we were welcomed in with big smiles. We selected our four dishes from the “buffet” table and then went outside to find a place to sit. Before our food was delivered, a waiter came out and brought us cups of ice cold water…..
….and then moved the umbrella over so that we were completely in the shade. I wonder if they are as kind to all of the patrons as they were to us!!!!
The bread was already on the table, served in a big plastic box…..
My first thought was that it would be really stale, but it was extremely fresh and soft!!
Our food arrived and we happily munched on Meatballs with potatoes, Eggplant casserole with meat, Green Beans and Chick Peas….. Everything was wonderful and we left with our bellies full and our wallet only $12 smaller!!!!
Walking back, we spent a few minutes looking into the various stores that lined the street. Most of these stores specialized in one particular item. This store specialized in light bulbs…… while this one sold rolls of clothing labels. These were mostly fabric care labels, size labels and other things that we couldn’t read…..
We returned to the hotel for a rest time and then decided to take the tram to the harbor area and then walk across the bridge to the Asian side of Istanbul (the Bosphorus Strait splits Turkey into a European and an Asian side).
There were hundreds of people fishing off of the bridge and I loved the innovation that led to this creation….
After we crossed the bridge, we walked a bit along the sea side and observed the birds, people and vendors. This guy was selling “Simit” which is like a bagel except that the dough has been dipped in Grape Molasses and then rolled in sesame seeds. It is slightly sweet and I have enjoyed part of one each and every morning at breakfast…..
As we were walking along one street, we heard yelling and looked up to see these boxes being hauled up to a third floor window…..
The “receiver” of these goods started to unload them but the entire load began to shift… There was much yelling, but the result was inevitable…. Fortunately it looked as if they were filled with Styrofoam cups so hopefully the damage wasn’t too bad.
In order to get to and from the tram stop, you had to use an underground tunnel. I was surprised to find that this was just another mini market with stores carrying an amazing array of goods…….
It seemed that most of the people buying here were locals and not tourists.
As we returned to our hotel, we decided to stop at a nearby cafe for dessert….Baklava, tea and coffee. Who needs Birthday Cake……
And finally, as we rounded one last corner, I succumbed to a store that I had been eyeing off for several days. Thus came the purchase of my birthday present….
We ended the evening with a few more hours on our terrace…..
It was EXACTLY what I wanted for my birthday….a fun day spent with my best friend!!!!
Today Michael went to Sabanci University to speak but had an interesting trip. It went something like this…..
– Board tram…….Exit tram……
– Enter Taxi……Ride in taxi for short distance (driver has no idea where to go) …….Exit Taxi
– Enter second Taxi ……Listen to taxi driver talk confusedly on phone (obviously asking where to go)……..Call host and let him talk to taxi driver……..Stop at Bus Stop to ask for directions……. Circle bus stop intersection THREE times……. Stop and ask Police for directions…… Call someone else to ask for directions……Call host again….. Pick up friend on side of road……Drive short distance…..Let friend out……Pull into gas station…..Ask person filling car for directions…….Honk at Pizza Delivery man on motorcycle……Pizza Delivery man says to follow him……. arrive at University……enter gate……guard gives taxi driver instructions for how to get to building……taxi driver gets lost and drives AROUND building…… Call host again and spot him walking to meet taxi.
– Note to self……Do NOT use taxi to return to hotel!!!!!
While he was living this nightmare, I was happily winging my way on the tram heading in the other direction. When I arrived, Rick Steves’ navigated me thru the streets and an older man pointed me thru the last turn.
This was my first view of the Chora Church…..
It was built in 1100 after the original church was destroyed by an earthquake. It was damaged greatly by Crusaders in the 1200’s and was resurrected in the 1300’s. It was during this final incarnation that the gorgeous Byzantine mosaic tiles were added. It was turned into a Mosque in the 16th century and the mosaic’s were covered with white-wash. Also, the bell tower was replaced with a Minaret and a Muslim “Prayer Niche” was added. In the 1940’s, the mosaic’s were discovered and restored.
This is the first scene that you see upon entering…..
One of the first things that I noticed was that the tiles had been disturbed and removed from the lower parts of the mosaics (where people could get to them)….
The ceilings held mosaics as well with many showing scenes from the life of Christ.
There were two halls on each side of the main church and they were all covered with mosaics….. I particularly enjoyed the tiles in this window arch…..
This little cutie couldn’t be bothered checking out the mosaics…..except for the ones wandering in his sleeping mind!!!! As I took photos, I enjoyed focusing on details of the images……
You can see where they have “cross-hatched” areas with paint to fill in the missing tiles.
As I walked back toward the Tram, I found this row of cute houses and like both the shape and the colors…..
I also passed this monument to Sultan Mehmet…..
I also liked the colors of the wares that this guy was selling…..
While I was walking, a small bus stopped to see if I wanted to ride. I have now learned that they keep to a certain route but you can flag them down anywhere along the route and don’t have to wait for a specific stop.
Now, my plan was to get to the Blue Mosque in time for the Noon-time Call to Prayer and service. I hurried there and followed every manner of person entering the Mosque….
The men’s ablution area was “awash” (pun intended) with people waiting their turn…..
Remember that the Friday Noon-time prayer is the biggest service of the entire week so people were clamoring to get there.
My plan had been to enter the Mosque courtyard and take a seat at the very back of the area and just quietly watch. Unfortunately, that was not allowed and all tourist were ushered out of the courtyard before the service began.
Oh well, on to plan “B”….. I had one last museum on the Pass, so I made my way to the Archaeology Museum.
Fortunately, someone else pointed out this interesting “tourist trap” before I hit it, but there were several of these in the MIDDLE of the sidewalk…..
I spent several hours in the museum and really enjoyed what I saw. Since I knew that I would NEVER remember any of the names and dates, I decided to focus on detail as I had in the Chora Church.
This little guy caught my eye at the museum entrance…. I liked the lions (there were three), but I don’t think that the really fit with the daisy flowers….
I love these Sanskrit tablets…..
I liked this guy’s face….. …..and foot……
As usual, I found another quilting design….. At this point I ended up in a Mausoleum area and enjoyed taking photos of the various faces. I thought that it was funny that the camera kept looking for a smile to focus on…..
I am not sure what I like best about this photo….the face carved in stone or the shadow of my hand with my bangles being silhouetted. These two “mourning” women were wonderfully rendered…..
and I loved how this mosaic soldier looks as if he is peeking out of the frame……
I climbed to the third floor of the building, and enjoyed the shape and designs of the various urns and vases…..
Unfortunately, it was really hot and stuffy up there so I didn’t stay very long, although it was one of my favorite areas.
I laughed at the display method for this great urn……
There was one other building in this compound and it was calling my name….and you can see why……
I like this next tile design and spent several minutes trying to figure out how I could piece it out of fabric (see why Michael doesn’t do museums with me!!)….
Since I am always attracted to Peacocks, you can see why I liked this “Fountain of Life”……
…although I REALLY liked these flower designs……
I followed this young couple out of the park and realized that it seem incongruous for him to be in casual clothes and her to be in draped attire, but this is a scene that plays out everywhere……
This is me walking in the middle of the street because there is a bus driving on the SIDEWALK. A person driving in the street got mad at me and wanted me to move, but he was a lot smaller than the bus so I stayed put!!!!!
I am not sure of the purpose of this sign……
….but it DID get my attention!!!!
I wasn’t sure what this was but have now found out that this is a lollipop vendor where you pick the flavors of your candy and they make it while you wait. I am going to try to get one before I leave….. A last walk thru the Hippodrome on my way back to the hotel and, of course, I trip over the ONE screw sticking up in the entire area….. I spent the next few hours at the hotel waiting for Michael to get home from the University. He ended up taking a shuttle from the University to the trams and the tram home. I met him at his stop and we had a quiet dinner together.
The evening was spent sitting on the terrace and watching the Blue Mosque fade into the dark. It is normally lit, but tonight only one light came on. We all laughed that they must have forgotten to pay the bill.
Before I get on with the antics of the day, I need to tell you the worst hawker line in the world…. “How can I spend your money today!!!”. Talk about truth in advertising!!!
We began Thursday in much the same way as Wednesday, with Michael working and me out making good use of the Museum Pass. This morning I headed to the Topkapi Palace. The Palace compound is a huge, beautiful, tree filled area. Unfortunately it was also tourist filled, but once again my trusty Pass did it’s work and I was able to bypass all of the long lines
As usual, there is a Mosque sitting in the corner of the compound. This one is the Hagia Irene…..
There are two things that I noticed about these doors. The first was the metal tracks that the door rollers slide on and the second was the way that the marble had been worn down from years of people crossing the threshold. It is fun to imagine who has stepped thru these doors in the past 550 years!!!
This girl was in front of me in line and my thought was…….REALLY????
You were not allowed to take photos in the palace itself so there are not a lot of them and in all honesty there was not a lot to photograph. However, I did find some interesting patterns in the stones that made up some of the walkways…..
One of the buildings held garments that had been worn by various Sultan’s who lived in this palace. Many of them were simple Caftans, made of high quality fabrics and most of the colors were fairly subdued. There was one pair of trousers that were HUGE. They were folded in half and formed a funky triangle and looked supremely uncomfortable. Also, many of the Sultan’s garments had a girlish look to them!!!
Another of the buildings held the various presents that had been given to the Sultans. I was particularly attracted to the sleek lines of the jugs and other jeweled vessels that were on display.
Next came the armory. I found two things that interested me in here. The first was a sword that was over 6 feet tall. My question is how was it ever used? It would have been too heavy to lift and wield. Did you prop it up and HOPE that someone ran into it???
The other interesting thing were the banners. Now these were not fabric banners, but were large headpieces that fit on top of a staff. They were very ornate and had interesting shapes and designs.
As I was in one room, I could hear a droning of someone chanting. As I entered a small connecting room, there was an Imam sitting at a table, quietly intoning verses from the Quran. There were several monitors that showed his words in various languages. As always, it was a haunting sound.
Upon exiting the palace building, I enjoyed a few minutes in the courtyard facing the Bosphorous Strait. There always seems to be a Minaret somewhere…..
It was also interesting that the stone work on the “sea” side of the palace was much more eroded than that on the “land” side.
As I walked around the compound, I began noticing the various ablution areas that dotted the grounds. Some of them were quite ornate while others were very simple…..
These little domed structures can be seen everywhere and add much to the interest of the skyline…..
A usual, the roof and walls were littered with tiles, arches and domes as well….
I now entered the Harem (pronounced Hah-rehm) and immediately noticed three things. The first was that EVERYTHING was beautifully tiled….. …..that the walkways were covered with these wonderful designs. You couldn’t really see the designs when you were walking, so I stopped every few steps, held the camera over my head and took a photo. The people around me thought that I was the craziest woman in the world!!!!!
The patterns appeared fairly random and were interesting to follow…..
The third thing that I noticed inside the Harem is that there were an inordinate number of closets and shelves….is that a woman’s quarters or what?????It is hard to tell from this photo, but the tiles that consistently received sunshine were faded out. I guess that the paints were not entirely colorfast. Many of the room were not done in the classic blue and white tiles, but had some pretty pastel colors as well. I thought that this was particularly pleasing…..
It has been said that I notice (and photograph) the most unusual things and this was one of those sightings. I was interested that this ring was securely fastened to the concrete. I am assuming that maybe it was to hold the reigns of a horse but who knows…..it is fun to imagine!!!! This water tap was particularly beautiful…..
The theme changed dramatically when you entered the Sultan’s rooms with the tiles and colors becoming much darker and more masculine…..In this room there was a guard whose post was behind a roped barrier. As I watched, he paced back and forth between the walls, much like a lion in his cage at the zoo!!
On one of the terraces, I noticed this formation cut into the rock and wondered what it was……
I followed it to its end and found that it was a drainage system for the flat terrace roof……. As I was leaving, I saw this wonderful tile work……
After exiting the Palace grounds, one vendor was very insistent that I purchase a bagel type bread from him. He slapped his large stomach as if to say that I should be hungry. I in turn slapped my stomach and said “too much” He laughed and we happily parted company. Michael met me for lunch and we decided to try out another of Rick Steves’ single dollar sign selections (ie….cheap but good). When we first sat down, they brought this tray of bread and we were off to a good start….
Next delivered was a bottle of water…..
Next came the bean salad with an oil and vinegar dressing and beef kebabs…….delicious!!!!
We relaxed at the hotel in the afternoon and then made our way to “Cooking Alaturka” for a lesson in Turkish cooking. Our host was Evelyn Zoutendijk, an excellent chef and a wonderful teacher…..
We were joined in the kitchen by the head chef, Feyzi and his assistant, Nazli.
They quickly put us all to work…. Michael started out chopping lamb for the main course….
….while I roughly chopped peppers and carrots to go in it as well….
Mike started chopping onions which had us all crying before long….
…..while Nena and Lisa skinned and chopped tomatoes…..
The staff did a fantastic job of keeping us organized and immediately had another job ready for us once we had finished. At one point, Michael was given the task of crushing peppercorns. He was given a very heavy brass disk and told to slam it down on the pepper corns to crush them up… After the initial crushing, the chef carefully made a line of the pieces and had Michael do it again to make the pepper even finer. This was a little different from shaking it out of a box!!
The first thing to go onto the stove was the green bean appetizer. Feyzi layered the runner beans, garlic, onion and tomatoes and then added olive oil, water, lemon juice, salt and sugar to the pot. It was covered and cooked for about 45 minutes.
The lamb was started in a large pot ……
…and then the rough chopped veggies were added…..
The next part was fun. We took dried figs and cut a small slit in the side and used the knife to open up the inside of the fig as much as possible. The pocket was stuffed with walnuts, the lips of the fig were pulled back out and pressed back together.
These were cooked in a pan of water, sugar and lemon and simmered for 30 minutes….
Next step was to get the eggplant ready . In order to peel it easily we first grilled it over an open flame until the insides were soft and the peel felt like leather…..
We then grabbed it by the stem and peeled the HOT skin off. Once the peels were off, they had us take a knife and carefully scrape any eggplant off of the inside of the peel so that nothing was lost. It was that way with everything…..EVERY little bit was picked up and used. I guess that it is the only way to make a profit in this business…..
Here we are getting the parsley and more garlic ready for a final chopping. The couple working with me are Mike and Lisa. They are from Canada, but just got married in Greece and were honeymooning in Turkey……
All of this was put into one big pile and Feyzi pulled out the BIG cleaver to efficiently chop it finer…..Lisa enjoyed the task of rocking this cleaver back and forth with each movement finely chopping and mixing the herbs……
Nena, who is a flight attendant living in Abu Dhabi, got to work on the base for the lentil soup….. The chef put me to work mixing the cheese and herbs that will go into our Zucchini pancake appetizer.
….and Michael to work seeding and grating the zucchini…..
And here is the result of our efforts….. The final process was making the Béchamel sauce for the eggplant mixture. Michael was shown the proper technique for whisking the butter and flour and said that his Pecs were going to be huge when he finished…..
The figs were ready so we dusted them with coconut and decorated the plate with minced pistachio and 2 cloves….. Evelyn and her partner, George (from Australia) were the perfect hosts and kept us always on task….even with time for George’s funny stories!!!
We sat down at the table and enjoyed spicy Lentil soup….
Runner beans and Zucchini Pancakes…..
and Lamb stew on Smoky Eggplant Puree…..
It was a fun evening with great food and new friends…..
This morning (Thursday), Michael had some work that he needed to do so he set himself up on the patio of our room. He kept hearing this little squeaky sound and soon realized that there was a Mother and baby Seagull on the roof just by where he was sitting.
There are two other slightly older chicks on the roof just opposite our room. We have enjoyed watching them try out their wings by “flying” just above the roof and stopping right before they go over the side. Typical kids driving their parents crazy!!!!
While poor Michael was chained to his computer, I went sightseeing. The first stop was the obelisk just down the street from our hotel. I was afraid that we had become so used to seeing it that we would forget to photograph it!!!
This is always one of the landmarks that we look for when we are trying to wind our way back to our room!!
Everything that I wanted/needed to do was not yet open so I decided to try the Blue Mosque again……BAD idea….. Each little group of people had a round sticker on their shirt that had a number on it and that number corresponded with their guide’s number. It was amazing the number of hawkers that were out and about and quickly selling their wares.
Finally it was 9:00am and I could enter the first of the museums on my newly purchased Museum pass…..the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts which is housed in the Ibraham Pasa Palace. It sits directly across from the Blue Mosque courtyard.
Naturally, since it was a museum, I spent most of my time looking for lines and patterns that I liked.
I did try one trick that I had read about. Since you were not allowed to use a flash in the galleries, it was difficult to take photos that weren’t slightly blurry. This was mainly because, when you clicked the shutter, you would move the camera a small bit. So, I set the camera up to use a 2 second delay timer. That way I could click the shutter and have two seconds to position myself and hold still. It worked very well!!!!
Here are a few of the things that I liked best in this museum……
….fun sunflower-esque designs (you know me and sunflowers!!!!)…..
Most of the textiles were prayer rugs and there were many patterns in the rugs that were roughly based on the Ohio Star Quilt block.
I was interested in how they preserved the rugs that were well worn and coming apart. These loose warp strings were carefully and invisibly hand stitched to the background……
There were many lacquered book covers and I thought that this one was gorgeous…..
As always, I am attracted to the calligraphic designs that abound in this culture…..
I love the maze design that is used to fill in the blank areas…..
And these next two pots of flowers caught my eye as well…. The museum was very well presented and for much of the time, it was just me and the guards. I am sure that they wondered exactly WHAT I was taking photos of and I know that they were waiting to be able to yell “NO FLASH”!!
As always the stupendous Blue Mosque towers over everything….. Although it is fairly hard to see, the cross-hatch work on this door was magnificent….. I stopped by the bathroom on my way out of the museum and saw a wonderful tile design in there. I assumed that it was ok to use the flash….so I did!!!
My next stop was to the Hagia Sophia (Aya Sophia) museum. This is another one of those structures that was built as a church in 532 AD, then the Ottoman’s turned it into a Mosque and now has finally become a museum.
This is where my wonderful Museum Pass came in handy. As I approached the museum entrance, there were hundreds of people standing in lines to purchase tickets, with a police guard ushering them into different lines. When he saw the pass in my hand, he motioned for me to go straight ahead and skip all of the line.
Then came the tour groups. They all entered at one time (just ahead of me) and turned left. SO, I quickly turned right and ran into one of my favorite exhibitions. There were hundreds of paintings that were done using the calligraphy techniques that we have seen many times in the trip.
I loved this piece and spent a great deal of time looking at the depth that was created by a few simple lines….. Isn’t this a fun piece…..
As I left this area, I signed the guest book by saying that “this exhibit was a wonderful use of words.”
I now crossed into the actual area of the church and enjoyed the architecture. As usual, the window placement adds a lot of character to the inner spaces…..
This mosaic, high on an archway, belies the Christian beginnings of this church….
….but yet other walls contain medallions that speak the name of Allah. These are huge medallions….the back of the disc on the right is the same size as the medallion across the hall…..
I love the way that these chandeliers’ add to the look of the area.
I climbed up the ramp to the upper level of the church/Mosque. The ramp was interesting as it was steep and very uneven….
Here I saw an interaction that I found interesting. There was a woman dressed in a full Burka, including gloves, so that the only portion of her that showed was the slit around her eyes. She was sitting nicely on the steps with her hands in her lap and posing while her husband took a photo of her.
I enjoyed being closer to the top of the church and getting an even better view of the architecture…..
There was one family that were setting their daughters on the ledge overlooking the floor of the Mosque so that they could take a photo. One of the guards came running over and insisted that they move off the ledge…..I agreed wholeheartedly.
There was one last mosaic in the exit hall along with some beautiful tile work on the ceiling. …..
One more photo to look at a few windows and arches…..
As I left the museum, I saw a sign that the Mausoleum was very close so I decided to check it out as well.
I had to take off my shoes as I entered and was met with felt covered tombs with funky little fabric “crowns” on them. I am assuming that these signify people that were direct descendants to the throne.
I left that building, putting my shoes back on and headed to the next building where I took my shoes off and entered. This one had not only the tombs, but also some beautiful tile work as well.
So I left that one, put on my shoes, walked to the next one, took off my shoes and entered again. This time I was met with a bank of beautiful windows!!!
…..and a gorgeous roof……
By now I was tired of taking my shoes off and on and decided to head back to the hotel, which was fortunate, because Michael called to say that he was ready for lunch and could we meet someplace.
As I am talking to him on the phone I kept hearing a vroom from a motorcycle and then saw this flying across the sky…..I stopped to watch a few more jumps and then turned around and had to reorient myself.
First of all, find the Hagia Sophia, then find the Blue Mosque, walk past the fountain, walk thru the bus tour hawkers while continually shaking your head no (I do not want to ride across the Bosphorus), find the two columns in front of the Blue Mosque and then find the best sight of all…..Michael walking toward me!!!!
We decided to go back to Buhara 93 for lunch and this time to have the Pide….
Two women came and sat at the table nearest to us and the younger started talking to us and asking where we were from…..
The older woman reached into her bag and produced a cucumber and a pepper for us to enjoy with our meal…..
Now we normally try not to eat things that are not peeled, but that plan fell apart VERY early in the trip. But, eating vegies that we know nothing about….that is another worry. However, there was NO way that we were not going to eat these items that were so sweetly given to us. After Michael quietly intoned “we are going to die from Salmonella, Typhoid or Tetanus” , we both chanted our mantra of “we have antibiotics”!!!!
We left the restaurant and started walking down the street, heading to the coastline that we could see in the near distance. However, before we got very far, we found a small Mosque and decided to make a quick visit before time for Noon time prayer.
As we entered and were removing our shoes, I was amused to find this long handled shoe horn laying on the step, and I actually saw two people use it when they came out after prayer time…..
This little Mosque was very simple with small touches of blue and, as usual, lots of light……
This pump indicated where the cleansing ablutions used to take place…..
There were carpeted stairs that led to the upper floor of the Mosque. They were very uneven and worn from hundreds of years of use. You could even feel undulations thru the carpet as you walked on the upper floor.
There was one spot where you could look across the sanctuary to a matching window on the other side. We both had the idea to take a picture of the other one. When I see them I feel like I am in one of the pictures at Hogwarts!!!
I woke up the other night wondering if all of the Mosques point to the East….toward Mecca. Today I found out the answer. The Mosque itself did not point East, however the designs on the carpet (that give guidance about where to sit to pray) run from North to South so that if you sit on one, you are pointing the correct direction!!!
It was also interesting to look down on these stripes and see that they extended in exactly the same manner on the upper floor.
As we left the Mosque, Michael started talking with this gentleman. He taught us a few Turkish words (which we promptly forgot) and then told us some of the history of the area. He was very kind and we enjoyed our time with him…
We returned to the hotel and relaxed for a while, actually I slept for over an hour!!! We then headed back to the Grand Bazaar for a bit more shopping.
We don’t know how, but we ended up in the little courtyard that Kathy had taken us to and decided to have a drink of hot apple tea….. ….and enjoy the smoking of a local water pipe called a Nargile. The tobacco we chose was apple flavored, with very little nicotine and a wonderful light flavor.
We had a wonderful time sitting in this little corner of the Bazaar, watching the locals and playing with the smoke!!!!
We wandered around in the Bazaar a bit more as we tried to find our way out. Upon exiting, I saw a vendor selling apples and told Michael that I wanted one. He peeled it for me….. …and then presented this wonderful, perfectly sliced, juicy apple….
As we walked away, Michael took one bite of it and walked straight back and got one for himself. We enjoyed the walk back to our hotel while savoring this very fresh fruit.
As we returned, we came to our favorite corner….one that is always inhabited by the same friend……
If he ever moves, we will not be able to find our way home!!!
We enjoyed a few minutes on the park bench to end another wonderful day in Istanbul……
The plan for this morning was to meet up with Kathy Hamilton and have her guide us thru the Grand Bazaar. You can check out her website here. This is not the best photo, but she is one of those people who never sits still!!! She is a transplanted Texan who spends her days doing any number of things, including writing articles, exporting textiles and helping people find their way around Istanbul.
As we were getting acquainted early in the day, she found out that we were from Athens and said “Do you know Hans N.?” I sat for a moment trying to reconcile that name with Turkey and finally said “Yes, he is one of my clients”!! It seems that she had worked with him in Washington DC many years ago. Isn’t the world a small place!!!!!
You also need to know that she is an EVIL woman. Her specialty is finding out what types of items you like and then taking you to the best places to buy them. The evil part is that, because she is so good at what she does, you want to buy everything that she shows you….AND we did!!!
As we walked, I dubbed her the “Moses of the Grand Bazaar” because the hawkers and shopkeepers parted as we approached and we walked the entire length unscathed!!!
The Bazaar is a labyrinth of shops located under magnificent domed roofs, providing a “cavern” feel….
It is a small city, with “roads” branching hither and yon and stores filling each and every inch of the isles…… One of the first places that we visited was a wonderful artist by the name of Nick Merdenyan. His art is truly original as he takes large Dieffenbachia leaves, presses them between books and dries them for a year. At this point they develop a leather-like texture. He then uses a small cat hair brush and paints wonderful designs with Bible and Quran verses on them.
Even though he has had many famous visitors…..
….he is a humble man who spoke lovingly of the art that he makes. You can check out his website at www.lordoftheleaves.com (dont you love the name !!)
And, of course, we had to have one!!!!
The next stop was to a Copper store so that Michael could look for a Turkish coffee pot and some Ayran cups……
This store had an abundance of every size of coffee maker…..
….and many other products as well. I have seen the tray in the center used in many situations. The cups of tea and coffee are set on the tray and then carried by the handle. It is a much more stable.
The next stop was to MY sort of shop…..silver jewelry!!!! I think that the name of the shop was “The Brothers” but I could be wrong.
This gentleman spent a long time with me as I looked at and tried on many sizes and styles of bangles.
The cost of the jewelry was determined by the weight of the silver used. The scales were “manual” and it was very interesting to watch as he expertly weighed the articles……
Now, on to the pottery shop, another favorite for both Michael and myself….uh-oh!!!!
It was at this point that we started talking about whether or not we would need to purchase a carry-on suitcase to get everything back home!!! As of time of writing, the verdict is still out on that!!!
This proprietor kindly helped us and offered us tea or coffee. As we had already drunk both at an earlier stop, we declined. So he said, since I haven’t had to spend any money on you, go ahead and pick out another item for free!!!
You can see some of our purchases on the case in front of him. He kindly offered to keep our bags there as we shopped further and we re-paid the kindness by purchasing even more stuff when we returned.
We were now getting a little hungry so it was time to stop for lunch. The cafeteria that Kathy steered us to was one that the workers would use at lunch time. The food was served cafeteria style and it was imperative to get there early because when it was gone, it was gone!!!!
She told us that around 11:00 each morning, the shopkeepers would start calling and ordering their meals which would be delivered to them at Noon. While we sat I saw numerous trays being carried out, each with a plate of delicious food and half a loaf of crispy bread.
We each chose meatballs and various vegies.
Ahhhhh…..we were back to authentic Turkish food!!!!
While I sat there, I saw food being transported from another building into the restaurant and two men pulling a large trash can full of dirty dishes. Kathy told us that the actual kitchen was a few doors down.
The next stop was to visit some of the out-of-the-way nooks and crannies of the market. Kathy led us to a small staircase and we proceeded to visit the upper floor of the market…..who knew there was an upper floor???
I loved that these cats were happily ensconced in the grooves of the tin roof, but in the shade of course…..
The upstairs area held a number of antique dealers and some really cool sculpture pieces…..candlesticks anyone…..
I would love to know the price of these special objects….especially the one on the bottom shelf…..
There were numerous workshops, although most were empty as the noon day call to prayer had just occurred. Many shopkeepers simply left their shops open with no attendant.
As we rounded one corner, Kathy asked if we could figure out what the clattering sound was. She pointed us to this wonderful shop where simple threads were being wound into beautiful braid……
The room was filed with pulleys and belts and the noise was deafening, although Kathy told us that the owner never wore any form of hearing protection.
It was an amazing place!!!!
As we walked I peeked into this store…..
I will look forward to returning here when I am not on a schedule!!!!!
Kathy told us a story about this building which sat in the middle of one of the “streets”. This was originally called the Sultan’s seat as he would come and sit up high and watch what was going on in the Bazaar. In recent times it has been used as a jewelry store. A few months ago there was filming here for the new James Bond movie…apparently a chase scene thru the market….. and one of the motorcycles lost control on a corner and crashed into the window of this building. Because of its age, it is considered an historic building and can only be repaired in a certain way so the jewelry business has been closed for several months and has lost LOTS of revenue as it has been repaired. Can you say “lawsuit!!!!”.
We reluctantly left the Bazaar as Kathy said that she had another special place that she wanted us to see. We quickly arrived at the Cafreraga Madrasah which is an art school funded by the Turkish Cultural Service Foundation.
We were first given a demonstration of making marbled papers and we enjoyed watching as he dotted the paints onto the gelatinous base…..
….used several combs to create a background pattern…..
….and then proceeded to create a wonderful picture……
The paper was laid across the surface and the design was transferred…. We were then given a tour of the complex which includes 15 classrooms where various forms of art are taught. Classes range from one day to several months.
This was the only class in progress and they were working on a form of Calligraphy…..
There were other classrooms for marbling, ceramic painting, pottery, and metal work and jewelry making….. The classrooms were small and intimate and I think that it would be very enjoyable to spend a few days here. The classrooms were around the edge of this outdoor cafe/gathering place…..
…and there were several rooms that were simply designed for relaxation and re-creation. This was our host for the afternoon…..
Since our wallets were much lighter and our bags much heavier, we decided to call it a day and returned to our hotel to relax for a bit.
When it came time for dinner, we decided that we really wanted to try something small and different so out came Rick Steves’ trusty guide. This time we looked at the lower priced restaurants that he listed and decided to try to find “Buhara 93”.
After one small detour, we found the restaurant entrance and were taken immediately up two flights of stairs to the shaded terrace. It was wonderful!!! I mean, how can you miss when this is the first thing brought to your table….. We had beef and chicken Shish-kabobs and loved every bite!!!!
Especially the cold, creamy rice pudding for dessert…. After eating, we wandered our way back to the hotel (without the previous detour) and enjoyed a night of dreams of shopping and food!!!!!
On Monday morning, we wanted to find someplace that was a bit out of the way. The hotel reception suggested that we catch the tram and get off close to the outer wall of the city. He told us that a 20 minute walk would take us to the Bosphorus Strait and then another 20 minute walk would bring us back into the Sultanahmet area. He was right about how to get there, but we apparently walked a LITTLE bit slower….we walked for over 2 hours and never made it to the Strait!!!
He was able, however, to tell us how to get to the Tram, purchase a token, and get to our destination.
We watched as several people moved so that older persons could sit down and one man moved so that Michael could sit by me….he must look REALLY old!!!
We got out at our station and started to walk toward the wall but there was a huge street that we had to cross and traffic was horrible. As we are standing there trying to figure out how we were going to judge when to jump into traffic, Michael pointed to the sign that said to use the subway tunnel to cross the street….much easier!! We even had a taxi and a bus stop for us during this time so we were well cared for!!!
We enjoyed walking along the “Walls of Constantinople” which were built in 450AD. Some sections were in fairly good shape while some were in major disrepair.
We appreciated the strength of this mighty tree growing out of the wall…..
We came across a group of young boys who saw the camera that Michael was carrying and HAD to have their photos taken…..
This bell tower indicated that a church once existed just behind this wall…. Michael climbed on top of the wall and took photos of various plants found there…..
……while I stayed at street level and found my own form of art…..
We wandered back and forth between the inside and outside of the wall, spending most of our time at the Bahceler Mudurlugu Park which ran along the outside. Although much of the area was fairly rough, we did see some pretty wildflowers…. ….and these fun beans from a Mimosa tree. It reminded us of a Texas Mesquite tree…..We had come to a long stretch where there was no archway between the outside and inside of the wall and we wanted to get back inside. What to do….what to do!!! We did what we always do….when in doubt, follow a local!!
This man left the main sidewalk and began following this path back toward the wall, so we followed him…..
…and our unknowing tour guide led us exactly where we wanted to go….
By now we had seen enough of the wall and wanted to walk around in the neighboring areas. We looked at a map and had a general idea of where we were as we walked. Then we passed a street market and everything changed…..
We followed this market for several blocks and thoroughly enjoyed the sights and sounds of people buying their daily vegies.
I am always amazed with how much effort the stall owners put into making their wares look great……
The addition of a red tomato or red rose certainly added to the depth of color into these peppers….
…and this display of peas was gorgeous…..
These dried apricots were too pretty to pickup……
….and I loved this box of zebra striped fish…..
Even the women’s bras were nicely displayed……
These bright red tomatoes with their green curly stems caught my eye as well……
This stall reminded me of fat quarters of fabric but they were really women’s scarves that are used as Hijabs.
I liked these spice packets that one of the stalls had. I bet we will see a bunch of these when we visit the Spice Market next week…..
Of course, some stalls dont have any order to them at all. They are simply a hodge-podge of every imaginable product…..
We were confused by one sight. There were big bowls filled with water and with these round things floating in them.
We first thought that they were mushrooms, but then saw a shopkeeper peeling and slicing them and realized that they were Artichoke hearts…..
I was interested in one shop-keeper’s method of sprinkling his vegetables with water. He would dip a bunch of parsley in water and then use it to sprinkle water over everything else!!!
When we finally returned to the street, we looked around and recognized the arena that was marked on our map. We were amused by this woman who was exercising on the track……in full dress!!!
We walked past the arena and further into the bowels of a residential area. Once again we were accosted by little boys…..
As one passing stranger said “All the child needs a photo!!!”
At this point we had walked enough and knew that our hotel was a LONG, LONG, LONG way from us (and uphill all the way), so we hailed a passing taxi and gave him the instructions for getting to our hotel. Unfortunately, it appeared that he probably couldn’t read but he finally saw the word “Sultanahmet” (which is the general area where all of the tourist sites are) and off he went.
Well, after about 15 minutes of wild driving, we arrived at a mosque that “looked” like the Blue Mosque. We thought that we were close enough so we motioned that he could let us out there. After we got out, we realized that it was NOT the Blue Mosque and that we were much closer to our hotel, but still a fairly long uphill walk was left.
So, instead of dealing with the problem, we visited another Mosque….the “New Mosque”!!!!
As we entered, we realized that the Imam was teaching a group of men and we were quickly ushered to the “Turist Mahalli” (tourist section) to sit and watch. It was peaceful as we sat on the floor and listened for a few minutes.
As with all of the Mosques, the combination of light and designs is glorious….
It was almost time for prayer, so there were numerous men performing their cleansing ritual….
Since we still didn’t want to deal with figuring out where we were…..we had ice cream…..
We finally had to “step into our map” (Joey style) and finally figured out that we could walk a couple of blocks and then catch the tram back to our hotel area.
While we were waiting, we noticed a McDonald’s with a walk-up window….
We successfully returned to our hotel and enjoyed some relaxing time before going out again for a meal.
We passed a cute little girl who was happily squealing as she fed the multitude of pigeons. Her mother smiled at us as we watched her….
After another “Dumbed-down” Turkish food dinner, we first declared that we will NOT return to a tourist restaurant and then decided to stroll our way back to the hotel.
It is so fun to look up and see these beautiful sights…..
Michael took this beautiful photo of a young woman at one of the monuments….
Once again, another fun day….tomorrow….the Grand Bazaar!!!!