19 September 2003 Friday - Istanbul - 78 Photos

Our guide wasn't due to arrive until 1:30pm. We gave ourselves a chance to catch up on sleep, then we went down to breakfast, which consisted mostly of dessert items, pastries and such. While we ate breakfast, we talked to another guest, a small business owner. He told us that we were very close to all the good sightseeing spots in town, just up the hill. He also told us that he had just arrived in town, met a very nice man, who took him back to his fine carpet shop and he bought a fine carpet. I don't understand why someone would fall for the first slick carpet salesman on his first day in town, when he has a whole trip ahead of him. I wanted to ask him how he could possibly be so naive, but I held my tongue. He was obviously proud of his business-sense, at least in regards to being a business owner. To me, it made no sense.

After breakfast, we set about to explore the old town on our own. We walked from the hotel up the hill to the Blue Mosque, which was just a few blocks away. It is supposedly is the second largest mosque in the world (the first one being in Mecca). It was beautiful, both outside and in.

I’ve made stained glass pieces, including a big window, so for me it was kind of weird to see the beautiful Islamic stained glass.

I always thoughts of stained glass as a Christian art form, but I guess it’s not.

Half-way to the mosque, we were approached by our first carpet salesman. He was very friendly and helpful, but persistent, and he followed us around a long time. We tried to explain that this was the first day of our trip, and we were not going to buy a carpet, at least not until much later.

From the Blue Mosque, we walked to Hagia Sophia (Saint Sophia's) church, which is nearby.

It cost money to get in, and we knew we would be returning later with our Tendu, so we just took pictures of the outside.

Next we walked to the Grand Bazaar and did some browsing. We are lunch consisting of two long, thin burrito-like kebabs. It was very tasty. Then we had the challenge of finding our way back to the hotel. It was a bit of a struggle, since almost none of the streets were marked, and our map was very poor. Somehow-miraculously-we managed to find our way back. We took a nap, and when 1:00pm rolled around, we went back downstairs to meet our Tendu.

She showed up at 1:30pm, which was right on time, then, physically exhausted, we proceeded to walk all the way back to the area of the Blue Mosque. She explained that this was originally an ancient Roman hippodrome, where the Romans held chariot races and such. Inside the hippodrome, there was a Egyptian Cleopatra's needle

and a couple other similar monuments.

Next, we walked to the Hagia Sophia church (this time going inside).

The church was huge. Apparently, this was the world's largest church for over a thousand years, and it had some beautiful Christian mosaic pictures of Christ and Mary.


It also had Islamic stained glass windows, which I thought were interesting. At some point, the Christians were kicked out by the Moslems, and the church was converted into a mosque. Now, it is considered a museum. I saw this cool-looking Arabic guy-probably a tourist-and got his permission to take his photo:

We also visited the ancient cistern, and lastly, the museum of Islamic art. It was pretty cool.

We napped again when we got back to the hotel, and when we got up, it was almost sunset, so I stuck the camera out our tiny triangular window and took a photo of the boats on the water.

Then we went out walking some more, this time searching for dinner, and a little shopping. I've seen a lot of things I'd like to buy, but so far I've been pretty conservative. I've looked at all kinds of glass hanging lamps, etched and decorated copper plates, and other misc. things, but all I've managed to buy is a small Turkish-style cylindrical pillow case. The problem is that it's too early in the trip, and I don't want to buy from the first vendor I see, nor do I want to lug around heavy trinkets for three weeks.

After dinner,

we walked back toward the Blue Mosque, and it was all lit up and pretty.

We walked back to the hotel, which was a challenge, because the roads near our hotel are being torn up for the sake of repairs.

This trip, I'm determined to take more people-pictures to see the people in their natural environment.

It's getting pretty late, and our guide is picking us up early (9:00am) tomorrow, so I better go to bed.