Turkey Day 20-21 – Istanbul Day 0-1

Saturday – Istanbul Arrival (Day 0 or Day 20 in Turkey)
When Jenny got in we just grabbed a taxi to the hotel – he didn’t know where it was and kept lamenting how this was very bad and very difficult and then surprisingly (to him as well) got us there very quickly and cheaply. The hotel is GREAT – good Internet – nice beds – fabulous view and right in the Hippodrome. We walked around for a bit grabbed dinner and headed back for the grand adventure!

Sunday – Istanbul Day 1 – Turkey Day 21
On Sunday we decided to stay close to our hotel (which is located right next door to the Hippodrome) and walk around and see what we can do. We visited the Hippodrome (area – as there is not much left) and saw the Egyptian Obelisk – which was crazy amazing – like how do you even transport something that big let alone make it (it used to be bigger even), the Column of Constantine Porphyrogenitus (which looks like a giant Jenga game) and the Serpentine Column (which is neat but you almost miss between these other two).

We headed to the Blue Mosque which was truly awe inspiring. Jenny brought her own scarf (though they were giving them out). The place was just a sight to see – contrasting the beauty of the place was the tourists who all had taken off their head coverings and let their children roam around the areas that were off limits. The lack of respect some people show always amazes me.

We then headed to the Haghia Sophia. Wow – I mean WOW – WOW! Pictures do not do it justice. It feels OLD – it feels big – and it was just amazing. Jenny liked that the second floor was gotten to by a series of ramps and not stairs. It was very dark and there was some renovation going on but I think I got some amazing photos and the mosaics – its enough to make you a mosaic fan to see just how detailed they were.

On Andrea’s recommendation we headed next to the Basilica Cistern – which was very damp and slippery (and dark) but really worth it to see the 2 Marble Medusa heads that were built into the columns (one upside down – one sideways!)

Lots of vendors of course and for some reason people keep asking me if I am from Texas (my hat doesn’t look like a cowboy hat and they should know that – they sell cowboy hats here!)

We were doing so well time wise we headed to Topkapi Palace and visited the private (Harem Section) as well as the public sections. Such an amazing structure and museum. The museum has a wonderful treasury and some amazing relics – seeing Mohammed’s footprint, tooth, and beard were one thing but I was also amazed that they head Moses’ Staff, David’s Sword, Joseph’s Turban, and Abraham’s Saucepan! Wow! Oh and they have a 86 carat diamond!

We then headed into the park to watch some Pigeons fight over a pretzel and then get totally dominated by some finches!

Dinner was very nice and the person at the table next to us had their meal cooked in a sealed pot over a big flame and then broken open and served to them. Roughly the menus translated to shish kabob, meatballs, or chops 🙂 Meat means lamb – and everyone sells rice pudding. Works for me.

Istanbul Day 1 – Summary:
– Egyptian Obelisk
– Column of Constantine Porphyrogenitus
– Serpentine Column
Blue Mosque
Haghia Sophia
Basilica Cistern
Topkapi Palace, Museum, and Harem

[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]