Saturday, April 18, 2015

Back Home: Welcome to my Surreal World

Wednesday was my last day in Istanbul.

I spent the morning in Asia.

I had lunch at the train station where the Orient Express ends its journey.

I spent the afternoon cruising the Bosphorus.

I came home Thursday.

My mother passed away after a long illness while I was gone.

Girl-child and DIL took care of everything in my absence.

Now I am making arrangements for the service.

Tomorrow I will be going to stay with Auntie.

She is not doing well.

I'm glad I got to go to Istanbul.

I won't be posting for a while.

But I'll be back :-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mostly Mosaics + Random Stuff

I'm a day behind ... here are a few shots from yesterday. For my free days I got a museum pass, which included the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.

It's in an old palace across from the Blue Mosque.  The museum is so-so.

I never knew Muslims went in for relics, but they have relics, including hairs from The Prophet's beard.

My pass also included the Mosaics Museum, which has pieces of the Byzantine (Justinians?) palace.

The whole thing was found by accident.

There are so many layers of history here it's hard to keep track.

The detail is quite extraordinary.

Also, for Boy-child, here's what the water pipes look like at the cafes that offer them (hookas, not bongs):

Random shot of old wall with "new" (17th century) minarets.

Entrance to the Grand Bazaar.

Cool gate:

Amazing house:

I leave in the middle of the night tonight.  Can't wait to load my photos on my own computer so I can fix stuff up. (Digital cameras are great but it's really frustrating when you can't see the screen for the sunshine.  I'm a firm believer in cropping and straightening).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blue Mosque

I covered nearly the entire city today. The main (new) sight was the Blue Mosque.

It feels rather unassuming from the Hippodrome side.

Proof that I am where I say I am:

From other angles is is anything but unassuming.

The interior is decorated with massive quantities of Iznik tiles.

The effect is stunning.

And it is massive.

I always love the bits that remind me of Spain.

And for the record, the tiles are hand painted.

Every. single. one.

From across the way, and especially with the fountain in the foreground, the view is spectacular.  

After the Blue Mosque was built the architect was sent by the Sultan to add another minaret to the mosque in Mecca; it was believed the Sultan had overdone it by having a mosque with the same number of minarets as the mosque in Mecca.

I love the minarets less now.  They make for great skylines, but the reminders five times a day that it's time to pray can be annoying.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hagia Sophia

I'm done with work and enjoying a few days vacation before returning home. Today's main stop was the Hagia Sophia. I passed through the Basilica Cistern and went to the Little Hagia Sophia too.

First, the main attraction:

It is actually impossible to capture the scale of the building.

It was a church for over 900 years.

Then it was a mosque for almost 500 years.

Not many of the mosaics have survived the centuries, but there are a few:

There are signs everywhere to not use flash when taking pictures, but the windows are open.  I'm not sure how much longer the mosaics can survive Istanbul air (not to mention pigeons flying around).

There's lots of marble.

Ataturk made it into a museum, so it is no longer a functioning mosque; that's why the mosaics can be uncovered.

Don't know if you've read Inferno by Dan Brown, but that little adventure takes you into the Cistern.  Photos are pretty hard to take underground, but I did snap shots of the two Medusas. I read the novel as part of my prep work before coming to Istanbul :-D

The Little Hagia Sophia is close to my new (modest) hotel.  I hadn't realized it is a functioning mosque until I got there.  Luckily I had my headscarf with me (don't leave home without it).

I wasn't sure they would let me in with my ankles showing ... but they did.

 It's lovely, and yes, it's very small compared with the original Hagia Sophia.