Wonders of Ottoman Turkey - day 24

Istanbul Travel Blog

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The Blue Mosque has beautiful patterns. I couldn't stop taking photos.

Luckily I heal well, so other than a small band aid on my upper lip, I’ve recovered from yesterday’s accident in the bathroom.  I would have gone on the tour of Istanbul even if I’d had to wear mummy wrappings.   Seeing Istanbul again is worth the price of a little pain or embarrassment over a bandaged lip.  I’m really looking forward to sailing into Istanbul at sunrise. 

Our ship is escorted into Istanbul by a family of dolphins swimming alongside and then an air squadron of geese falls into formation overhead.  I feel properly welcomed back into town.  We had first visited Istanbul in 1992 but that was almost 20 years ago and I want to see everything again.

Sailing into Istanbul at dawn
  I remembered it as being mind-numbingly beautiful and exotic so hopefully Istanbul would seem just as wonderful this time too.  We joined a tour group as the most efficient way to see as many of the major sites as possible in one day.  We managed to tour the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace before lunch. 

I caused a stir at the entrance to Topkapi when we walked past a grade school tour group and one little boy, practicing his English on an obviously English-speaking tourist, said “Hello” to me.  I said “Hello” back and asked if he spoke English.  He said he was learning and asked where I was from.  He was so cute and polite that I gave him one of the embroidered patches from NASA that I carry as small gifts and told him I was from Florida.
View of Hagia Sophia
  Not surprisingly, I was immediately surrounded by the entire class, each of whom wanted a patch too.  I saw their teacher standing to one side and gave her a handful of patches from various Space Shuttle missions so the class attention switched to her. That made it possible for me to quietly sneak off and go into the Palace. I wish I’d been quick enough to think of taking a photo of all of the kids.

We had lunch at the restaurant in Topkapi looking out over the water and then went to the Covered Market for shopping.  I love the flair and ceremony of a Turkish carpet demonstration. First you are seated in a large upstairs room and served tea or some highly alcoholic liquor and then the demonstration begins.  The tutorial about various carpet types and materials is illustrated by unrolling carpets of many patterns and colors across the floor.
Just before meeting the school kids.
  It’s mesmerizing, like staring into a kaleidoscope.  My husband sees one he likes and is taken to another floor to negotiate.  I tag along but am obviously not essential to what is a guys-negotiating exercise so am shown to other floors to look at jewelry. 

After my husband has reached a deal on the rug and I have shown no interest in buying jewelry, we join up and wander through the rest of the market.  I’ve been taking photos all day and am on visual overload by now so we go back to the ship to prepare for a special dinner we had booked months in advance.

At sunset, we are going by launch to the Maiden’s Tower for a Turkish dinner.  The Maiden’s Tower is on a small island in the Bosporus Strait and has European Istanbul on one shore and Asiatic Istanbul on the other.
The Maiden's Tower from a distance
  All boat traffic between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea must pass by the Maiden’s Tower.  For obvious reasons, it has been a control point since Alcibiades (yes, the friend of Socrates) built there in 408 BC.  It’s been a lighthouse for centuries and I’m having going to be having dinner there while the sun sets and all the lights of Istanbul at night come up around me. 

Afterward, all I can say is the view was even better than I thought it would be.  Dinner wasn’t bad either. 

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The Blue Mosque has beautiful patt…
The Blue Mosque has beautiful pat…
Sailing into Istanbul at dawn
Sailing into Istanbul at dawn
View of Hagia Sophia
View of Hagia Sophia
Just before meeting the school kid…
Just before meeting the school ki…
The Maidens Tower from a distance
The Maiden's Tower from a distance
Formation of geese leading the way
Formation of geese leading the way
Topkapi Palace seen from the water
Topkapi Palace seen from the water
The Istanbul skyline on the Europe…
The Istanbul skyline on the Europ…
Detail of the Istanbul skyline on …
Detail of the Istanbul skyline on…
Modern buildings and the minarets …
Modern buildings and the minarets…
Street signs
Street signs
Little excursion boats for tourist…
Little excursion boats for touris…
Mosaic in the Hippodrome area
Mosaic in the Hippodrome area
Turkish building style
Turkish building style
Entrance and shoe removal area
Entrance and shoe removal area
Minaret in the distance
Minaret in the distance
Detail of the Blue Mosque
Detail of the Blue Mosque
Detail of the Blue Mosque
Detail of the Blue Mosque
Detail of the Blue Mosque
Detail of the Blue Mosque
Detail of the Blue Mosque
Detail of the Blue Mosque
Many women wore scarves.  In 1992 …
Many women wore scarves. In 1992…
Detail of the Blue Mosque
Detail of the Blue Mosque
Flowers everywhere
Flowers everywhere
I added to my collection of photos…
I added to my collection of photo…
building styles
building styles
Unbelievably ancient buildings
Unbelievably ancient buildings
Cathy had been shopping
Cathy had been shopping
Entrance to Hagia Sophia
Entrance to Hagia Sophia
Hallway ceiling mosaic
Hallway ceiling mosaic
Everything is decorated and is bea…
Everything is decorated and is be…
The Islamic decor uses abstract de…
The Islamic decor uses abstract d…
This Christian mosaic had been cov…
This Christian mosaic had been co…
Close up of the Angel mosaic
Close up of the Angel mosaic
Another Christian mosaic that had …
Another Christian mosaic that had…
Our guide Chiden (which means Croc…
Our guide Chiden (which means Cro…
Entrance to Topkapi Palace
Entrance to Topkapi Palace
Inner Topkapi courtyard
Inner Topkapi courtyard
The knobs on the grave markers ind…
The knobs on the grave markers in…
Inside the Covered Market
Inside the Covered Market
And there is always a candy store …
And there is always a candy store…
Cant say Ive seen too many mando…
Can't say I've seen too many mand…
Another towel animal greeted us in…
Another towel animal greeted us i…
Istanbul at night
Istanbul at night
view from the launch going to dinn…
view from the launch going to din…
The Maidens Tower up close
The Maiden's Tower up close
Looking back towards our ship
Looking back towards our ship
Fish in the water below our balcon…
Fish in the water below our balco…
Istanbul
photo by: Memo