Frenzied Friday….

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…..DSC04288

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)….DSC04290

The ceilings held mosaics as well with many showing scenes from the life of Christ. DSC04289 

There were two halls on each side of the main church and they were all covered with mosaics….. DSC04294
I particularly enjoyed the tiles in this window arch…..  DSC04300

This little cutie couldn’t be bothered checking out the mosaics…..except for the ones wandering in his sleeping mind!!!!DSC04302 As I took photos, I enjoyed focusing on details of the images……DSC04307

You can see where they have “cross-hatched” areas with paint to fill in the missing tiles.

DSC04308  As I walked back toward the Tram, I found this row of cute houses and like both the shape and the colors….. DSC04323

I also passed this monument to Sultan Mehmet…..DSC04326 

I also liked the colors of the wares that this guy was selling…..DSC04328

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….DSC04330

The men’s ablution area was “awash” (pun intended) with people waiting their turn…..DSC04331

Remember that the Friday Noon-time prayer is the biggest service of the entire week so people were clamoring to get there.DSC04333

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…..DSC04335

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….DSC04346 I liked the lions (there were three), but I don’t think that the really fit with the daisy flowers….DSC04352

I love these Sanskrit tablets….. DSC04357  DSC04360

I liked this guy’s face…..DSC04364 …..and foot……DSC04365

As usual, I found another quilting design…..DSC04371 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…..DSC04376

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.DSC04391 DSC04392 These two “mourning” women were wonderfully rendered…..




and I loved how this mosaic soldier looks as if he is peeking out of the frame……DSC04438

I climbed to the third floor of the building, and enjoyed the shape and designs of the various urns and vases…..DSC04448 DSC04452 DSC04457

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……DSC04465

There was one other building in this compound and it was calling my name….and you can see why……DSC04466

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!!)….DSC04471 


Since I am always attracted to Peacocks, you can see why I liked this “Fountain of Life”……DSC04472

…although I REALLY liked these flower designs……DSC04473

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……DSC04478

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!!!!!DSC04481

I am not sure of the purpose of this sign……DSC04482

….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…..DSC04484  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…..DSC04493  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.

A little work, a little sightseeing,, a little cooking and a little eating….the perfect day!!

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…..DSC04035

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.   DSC04042 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…..DSC04053

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…..DSC04057

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.DSC04060

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…..DSC04067 DSC04068

These little domed structures can be seen everywhere and add much to the interest of the skyline…..DSC04075

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…..DSC04087 …..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!!!!!DSC04093 DSC04096

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?????DSC04113DSC04138It 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. 
DSC04098    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…..DSC04139

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… is fun to imagine!!!!DSC04125    This water tap was particularly beautiful…..DSC04145

The theme changed dramatically when you entered the Sultan’s rooms with the tiles and colors becoming much darker and more masculine…..DSC04150In 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……DSC04157

I followed it to its end and found that it was a drainage system for the flat terrace roof…….DSC04161 As I was leaving, I saw this wonderful tile work…… DSC04166

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…..DSC04175

Next came the bean salad with an oil and vinegar dressing  and beef kebabs…….delicious!!!!DSC04178 

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….. DSC04183

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….DSC04188

….while I roughly chopped peppers and carrots to go in it as well….DSC04190

Mike started chopping onions which had us all crying before long….DSC04189 

…..while Nena and Lisa skinned and chopped tomatoes…..DSC04196

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…  DSC04200 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!!DSC04205

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.  DSC04210

The lamb was started in a large pot ……DSC04212

…and then the rough chopped veggies were added…..DSC04217

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.  DSC04219

These were cooked in a pan of water, sugar and lemon and simmered for 30 minutes….DSC04246 

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…..DSC04223

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…..DSC04233

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…… DSC04234

All of this was put into one big pile and Feyzi pulled out the BIG cleaver to efficiently chop it finer…..DSC04235Lisa  enjoyed the task of rocking this cleaver back and forth with each movement finely chopping and mixing the herbs……  DSC04237

Nena, who is a flight attendant living in Abu Dhabi, got to work on the base for  the lentil soup…..DSC04239 The chef put me to work mixing the cheese and herbs that will go into our  Zucchini  pancake appetizer. DSC04251

….and Michael to work seeding and grating the zucchini…..DSC04255

And here is the result of our efforts…..DSC04258 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…..DSC04261

The figs were ready so we dusted them with coconut and decorated the plate with minced pistachio and 2 cloves…..DSC04267 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….DSC04273

Runner beans and Zucchini Pancakes…..

DSC04274 and Lamb stew on Smoky Eggplant Puree…..


It was a fun evening with great food and new friends….. DSC04277

…and wonderful Turkish Coffee to end the evening!DSC04285

Have Museum pass…..will sightsee!!

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._6136868

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…..  DSC03789Each 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……

…..gorgeous doors…..DSC03805

….fun sunflower-esque designs (you know me and sunflowers!!!!)…..DSC03806

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.DSC03814

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……DSC03825

There were many lacquered book covers and I thought that this one was gorgeous…..DSC03826

As always, I am attracted to the calligraphic designs that abound in this culture….. DSC03835

I love the maze design that is used to fill in the blank areas…..DSC03849

And these next two pots of flowers caught my eye as well….DSC03851 DSC03852 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”!!DSC03856

As always the stupendous Blue Mosque towers over everything…..DSC03858  Although it is fairly hard to see, the cross-hatch work on this door was magnificent…..DSC03868 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!!!DSC03873

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…..DSC03887  Isn’t this a fun piece…..DSC03890

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. DSC03894DSC03888 As usual, the window placement adds a lot of character to the inner spaces…..DSC03900

This mosaic, high on an archway, belies the Christian beginnings of this church….DSC03902

….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…..DSC03925

I love the way that these chandeliers’ add to the look of the area.

DSC03905 I climbed up the ramp to the upper level of the church/Mosque.  The ramp was interesting as it was steep and very uneven…. DSC03923 

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. …..DSC03942

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.DSC03959

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.DSC03961

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!!!DSC03963

…..and a gorgeous roof……DSC03971

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…..DSC03979I 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…..

DSC03984 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……_6136892

This pump indicated where the cleansing ablutions used to take place….._6136890

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.DSC03992   

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…_6136898

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…..DSC04006 ….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.

DSC04007 We had a wonderful time sitting in this little corner of the  Bazaar, watching the locals and playing with the smoke!!!!

DSC04009 DSC04012 

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….. DSC04027 …and then presented this wonderful, perfectly sliced, juicy apple….

DSC04028 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…… DSC04032

Parting the waters….


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.DSC03681 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….DSC03677

It is a small city, with “roads” branching hither and yon and stores filling each and every inch of the isles……DSC03676 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.  DSC03680 DSC03682

Even though he has had many famous visitors…..DSC03686

….he is a humble man who spoke lovingly of the art that he makes.  You can check out his website at  (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….. DSC03689

….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.DSC03688 

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.DSC03696

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……DSC03691 

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.DSC03701 DSC03702

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….. DSC03705

The upstairs area held a number of antique dealers and some really cool sculpture pieces…..candlesticks anyone…..DSC03707

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.DSC03712

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……DSC03718 

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.DSC03720 DSC03721

It was an amazing place!!!!

As we walked I peeked into this store…..DSC03727

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. DSC03728 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….. 

DSC03737 ….used several combs to create a background pattern…..DSC03739 

….and then proceeded to create a wonderful picture……DSC03742 DSC03744 DSC03745 DSC03746 DSC03747

The paper was laid across the surface and the design was transferred….DSC03750 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….. DSC03756

There were other classrooms for marbling, ceramic painting, pottery, and metal work and jewelry making…..DSC03763 DSC03764 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…..DSC03778

…and there were several rooms that were simply designed for relaxation and re-creation.   This was our host for the afternoon…..DSC03773 

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…..DSC03780 We had beef and chicken Shish-kabobs and loved every bite!!!!


Especially the cold, creamy rice pudding for dessert….DSC03783 After eating, we wandered our way back to the hotel (without the previous detour) and enjoyed a night of dreams of shopping and food!!!!!

Getting lost…..REALLLLLY Lost

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._6116784

We appreciated the strength of this mighty tree growing out of the wall….._6116786 DSC03582

We came across a group of young boys who saw the camera that Michael was carrying and HAD to have their photos taken….._6116790

This bell tower indicated that a church once existed just behind this wall…. DSC03575 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…..DSC03581

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….DSC03596  ….and these fun beans from a Mimosa tree.  It reminded us of a Texas Mesquite tree…..DSC03605We 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….. _6116825

…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……DSC03614 

The addition of a red tomato or red rose certainly added to the depth of color into these peppers….DSC03619

…and this display of peas was gorgeous…..DSC03637

These dried apricots were too pretty to pickup……DSC03618

….and I loved this box of zebra striped fish…..DSC03617

   Even the women’s bras were nicely displayed……DSC03626 

These bright red tomatoes with their green curly stems caught my eye as well……DSC03627 

This stall reminded me of fat quarters of fabric but they were really women’s scarves that are used as Hijabs.DSC03630

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…..DSC03633

Of course, some stalls dont have any order to them at all.  They are simply a hodge-podge of every imaginable product…..DSC03634

We were confused by one sight.  There were big bowls filled with water and with these round things floating in them.  DSC03613

We first thought that they were mushrooms, but then saw a shopkeeper peeling and slicing them and realized that they were Artichoke hearts…..DSC03615

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!!!    _6116836

We walked past the arena and further into the bowels of a residential area.  Once again we were accosted by little boys…..

_6116840 _6116842

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.DSC03643

As with all of the Mosques, the combination of  light and designs is glorious….DSC03644

It was almost time for prayer, so there were numerous men performing their cleansing ritual….DSC03648

Since we still didn’t want to deal with figuring out where we were…..we had ice cream…..DSC03649

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….DSC03653

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….DSC03657

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….._6116854

Michael took this beautiful photo of a young woman at one of the monuments…._6116848

Once again, another fun day….tomorrow….the Grand Bazaar!!!!