Istanbul on a High-Galata Tower


 Day 2: 11th April

 

After a long walk exploring the Galata Bridge, we made our way to the Galata Tower. The present day Tower is one that has been restored after fires burned down the Tower. I must add a word or two about their restoration, its usually done so well that you can’t make out that it has been done recently. Also there are efforts taken to keep up the restoration which means that the Monument is always looked after.

 

History of the Galata Tower:

Galata Tower was made by Byzantium Emperor Anastasius in 507 out of wood and called Watch Tower. In 1348 Geneose took over the tower and built it out of pile stone and called it Christ Tower. When Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered Istanbul in 1453, the Tower got under Ottoman Management.

In the 15th century  it was used as a Dungeon. In the 16th century it was used as a Fire Tower. In the 17th Century, Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi put wooden wings to his arms and flew from the Galata Tower to Üsküdar (=Really it seems he practiced with eagle’s wings, flew and was banished by Sultan Murad VI because he was thought to be a public menace…”he is a scary man, he can do as he wishes”)

Damaged in the fire of Galata in 1832, Galata Tower was restored by Sultan Mahmut the Second and used as a Sign Tower. Also restored in 1967, Galata Tower gained its present day appearance and is still used for tourist information. The Tower got its name from the historical province of Istanbul, Galata.

This is a popular place for tourists as the Tower offers a panoramic view of Istanbul. It is a mode to see the Historical Peninsula. Also it offers you a beautiful view of the Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn. The Bosphorus Bridge looks elegant in the horizon.

 

 

There is also a restaurant at the top of the Tower, guaranteed to char your wallet for the remainder of the tour..The Tower Management says “If you come to restaurant, you don’t need to pay an entry fee..”  (=Ever met our IT Officials..pay through your nose and we waive off an insignificant entry fee :P)

The Tower was packed to capacity..I mean the viewing portion was packed. And i don’t doubt why..the sunset is so beautiful, it paints the city in such vivid colours. The blue turns to orange and envelops you along with with the mosques across the Sea of Marmara. Also it puts the city across as being a vulnerable and tired soul who’s just about finished the day’s work..From the Tower, its a beautiful sight.

And it is a very popular Tourist Attraction.

Taking a full round of the Tower gives you a total panoramic view of both the Historical Peninsula and the Suburbs. Also you can see the Bosphorus Bridge and the Asian side of Istanbul. Like the photos below show…this is a sight that everyone wants to see. Which is why it was a very crowded audience on the top.

Also if you are going there, do take your arsenal of warm clothes becuase it will be windy. (=Do Not follow this if you’re going in the Summer-its a given). It is indeed a restful sight to see the sunset.

There was a point where we were stuck because too many people were moving back and forth but that can be forgiven.

As we made our way to the bottom, we stopped for a quick loo break and for the first time I saw women  waiting in a queue to use the restroom…(=Mighty Impressed i Must say!!)

By the time we made our way down to the square, the lights had started twinkling and the Tower and Istanbul looked like a mysterious figure in silhoute. Yellow lights softly illuminated streets, corners and monuments.

And we took it all in as we made our way to dinner.

Comin Up: Dinner, Day 3 dawns finally 😀

Stay Tuned

 

Istanbul on a High

 

Bosphorus

 

A Mosque in the Horizon

 

Panorama 2

 

The last goodbye

 

Panorama 3

 

Mellow shades of orange

 

A lining to the clouds

 

 

Panorama 4

 

Istanbul by Nite

Exploring Istanbul – Galata Bridge


Day 2: 11th April

After the huge and well documented (=:P :P) Half Day Tour (=spanning over 4 notes!!) we made our way back to the room (=202 and 203 of course)….We decided to explore Istanbul on a high (=:P No alcohol, just from a tower called Galata Tower!)

When we had gone on the Half Day Tour, we’d seen the Galata Bridge and the Bosphorus. But to get to the Galata Tower was a tricky job and so we consulted the Reception at the ‘Golden Horn’. They had a map of Istanbul where the Manager pointed out the route to my dad. We also purchased a copy of the map. (=Good to have in Istanbul with all the lanes and by lanes)

Istanbul is also famous for its trams. The main road which bordered the Topkapi Palace had a tram line. Every 5 minutes a tram would pass to or fro. To go to the Galata Bridge, we had to pass through a side lane (=Remember the lane we had to go thru to reach Ozler??) So one of those lanes got us to the main road. A little further on the main road brought us to the Istanbul Gare. Its a beautiful building designed by Mustafa Hamdi Pasha. The “Orient Express” made famous by Agatha Christie’s namesake thriller, terminates here.

We finally took a chance and purchased some ‘Kestane’ (=Shingada in India) which the seller roasts on coals. (=What kind of a seller was he, hauling some kestane to the coals :P)

The road opens up to the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus is a strait that separates the European and Asian side of Turkey.It is the world’s most narrow strait and is also the most navigated (=Istanbul’s waters are pretty busy you know). It connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. 

Most of Turkey happens to be located in Asia but the Turks prefer not to be associated with the “poorer” continent. Whereas Europe constantly snubs its “poorer” fan.

Yea so back to the Bosphorus. Since there is a lot of activity on the European side, there is a constant exchange of traffic both people and cars (Photo1). It was fun to see a boat bring in cars from the Asian side.

Since this opened to the sea, it was quite windy. There were carts at a small distance of each other selling Kestane, Corn, Samit (=Bread with sesame). There were also stalls selling coffee(=Kahve to you), fish sandwiches in which the fish was grilled with mustard oil it smelt but i really can’t be sure. Anyway it didnt look very tasty so we skipped that.

But we did succumb to buying some Corn. I’m warning you, NEVER buy corn from Istanbul, the ones on the road. The corn tastes rubbery and totally kills the mood. (=Of course we had a fun time trying to force some seagulls to eat it, guess they knew it was bad too!!)

We walked along the road until we reached the Galata Bridge. Now this is an important bridge because

1. A tram way runs through it

2. It connects the Historical Peninsula with the ‘Suburbs’ and Work Places at Istanbul.

3.The underside of the bridge is filled with restaurants speciality ‘SeaFood’

Also we had to constantly duck because of the whiffs of cigarette smoke (=They all Smoke!!). Also If your ‘Road Crossing’ Instincts come alive and you want to explore the other side of the bridge then I’d advise you not to put a foot out of the pavement because you would certainly be run over by a car or a tram. There is a subway which can be used to cross.

It seems that the bridge was built 5 times and at one point during the reign of Emperor Justinian toll was also collected from the people. It is one of the few bridges in the world to carry electrified rail tracks. All daily city tours in Istanbul include this bridge as it is the passageway to the Old City of Constantinople.

I Spy…: When we started walking across the bridge, we noticed a peculiar sight. There seemed to be a lot of people fishing.(Photo 7) Literally fishing, baiting with some small fry or worms, they reeled in their lines waiting for the fish to be caught. Some of them had freezers and other manual equipment that could guarantee you a solid entertainment.

It was quite fascinating to watch. The people just stood there waiting for the fish to fall for the bait and looked around at all the activity around them. A nice way to spend some time i’d say chilling out in the sun (=Not very harsh at that time of the year)

Also you’ve got to carry a sweater or a muffler of sorts because it gets very windy and chilly as the evening progresses.

So we walked ahead joking about everything under the sun, looking at the people who were fishing. When we crossed the bridge, we saw this vendor selling “Churos”. Now when we’d visited California back in 2001 Churos were fried bread dipped lavishly in cinnamon sugar (=Yummm). So we got some of that labouring under the impression that it was the same thing. But, it turned out to be fried bread in sugar syrup making it like a crispy ‘Gulab Jamun’ (=:P). It was enjoyable nonetheless.

Now to find our way to the Galata Tower, we’d have to cross the road which was no mean job let me tell you. But luckily for us there were people who crossed like how everyone crosses back home (=Phew, lucky break) so we did manage to get across. After that, a few directions and an uphill road were the only things that kept us from reaching there.

There are many lanes and by-lanes that oft lead to the same place so you can be sure that the route you took would lead you somewhere close to where you want to be. The road that we took to go to Galata Tower was an uphill one with a lot of climbing en route. There were a series of steps first and then a curved road lined with some apartments and Couture Clothes Shops. We were quite out of breath when we finally reached the Tower.

The lane we took opened out to a square where 4 paths met and where the tower was situated. This tower would give a panoramic view of the whole city. (=Timings 9-7, also has a restaurant..very haute unless you have the cards to pay)

It seems the Tower at one point was crumbling but speedy restoration led to the Tower being in its present state. When we reached the square, we had a seat on a bench and munched on some chocolates (=Power Boosters!!) while we watched some dogs play.

We did explore the Tower and saw a super Panoramic view of the city but that makes yet another story 😀 😀

 

Stay Tuned

 

Cars shipped across the Bosphorus

 

Kestane!!

 

Yucky Corn!!

 

TP

 

Bosphorus

 

New Mosque!

 

Fishing off the Bridge

 

The Bosphorus

 

The Other Side

 

A Panorama

 

The Tower

Matis and Kaleens- Carpets everywhere n Walk upto the Grand Bazaar


Day 2: 11th April 2011

After the Blue Mosque, we were taken to a carpet showroom. The exteriors of the Blue Mosque which open to the Hagia Sophia are decorated with beautiful gardens and benches for people to sit and watch. There were also lots of crows there, (=Like the country, the birds…India is characterised by Malnutrition and so the crows here are thin and have large eyes…watch a crow tom..Turkish crows are like stuffed toys-Photo 2)

So we all sat into our vehicle (=Its a huge bus actually) and drove down to a Carpet showroom called ‘Matis’. There we had a demonstration about different types of carpets and actually saw how the weaving was done. Some of the carpets were really beautiful.

Gyani Kisse shuru: (=Hindi for Factual Yak Yak Begins)

Indian/Chinese Carpets= Single Knot Carpets

Turkish Carpets = Double Knotted Carpets (=Or so they claim…how are we to determine)

Carpets have a base layer of strings and have other strings (=Usually coloured) woven in them.

1. Wool base with wool strings

2.Wool base with cotton strings

3. Cotton base with cotton strings

4.Cotton base with wool strings

5.Silk base with silk strings

The worth of a carpet is determined by the number of knots in a square inch. It can go upto even 225 knots which is as elaborate as it gets and will take a worker about 1.5 to 2 years. So your carpet is less about the material and more about the labour.

Imp Note: A lot of small carpet dealers are unscrupulous and will sell u carpets MADE IN CHINA. They are NOT AUTHENTIC Turkish ‘Kilims’ or Carpets. They will sweet talk you (=Turks are good at that not to mention they are good looking)

The colour used in Turkish carpets especially woollen and cotton ones are natural dyes and the silk is synthetic(=Iska Raaz aage ke notes me khulega :P)

So depending upon the vegetation of the area the colour of the carpets used to differ. Like in Southern Anatolia, tobacco is grown so the people used to make greenish yellow carpets using tobacco leaves. Also some other tribes used roots to make carpets vivid reds and greens. The intricacy depends upon the skill of the weaver and also on the material used.

Woollen carpets are not so intricate as the threads are thick and weaving knots is easy. Cotton can be intricately woven but not as much as silk. Some silk carpets are really exquisite you’d dread to even walk on them for fear of spoiling them.

Now the prices they quoted were astronomical so we simply ignored them as we sipped on some Apple Cai.

Later we saw the showroom for jewellery, diamonds, gold and other semi precious stones, corals and other stones like Amethysts, Turquoise, Onyx etc. Really expensive stuff not for a clumsy one like me…so I kept away..

Discovery: Indian weddings are oftenr famous for the traditional, heavy worked dress of the bride. But that is not the case in Turkey.

In Turkey, the bride can wear a Christian type white dress for the wedding ceremony itself. Turkey has made Islam and its followers so very liberal and open minded that there are no restrictions on them. I was thoroughly impressed.

After the outing at Matis, we got a photo with Aziz the guide (=Long time back 3 notes ago i’d said his name was Aziz gosh i write too much these days!!)

We went into a small basement like shopping place (=basement like coz, there were steps that went down n the shopping mart was there!! hence basement) By the way our first such shop in Istanbul, and picked up some munchies (=chocolate, biscuits, knick-knacks)

Then with directions from people, we walked to the ‘Grand Bazaar’, the biggest Bazaar for anything and everything you need (=Not at the best prices and certainly not all authentic)

We read a sign that a small store was selling stamps so we inquired but we found out they were stamps for regular post and were not attractive (=Philately is a dying art and hobby indeed)

Also the walk upto the Grand Bazaar is lined up with big shops like how a shopping boulevard of a small scale in London would look like. The cobbled roads make a beautiful pattern with benches and  plants. Also cigarette butts.

If i forgot to mention, 90% of Turkey smokes, man or woman.  So cigarette smoke everywhere and the butts littering the street. But mind you that is the only thing littering their streets!! No plastic or paper or other garbage.

On the way to Grand Bazaar we were again told about a restaurant in some corner and saw a lot of people smoking.

The path leading to the Grand Bazaar is a cobbled one and is done up beautifully (Photo 8).

Grand Bazaar is supposed to be a huge complex with more than 4000 shops. There is a main lane from the entrance and there are also many by-lanes with more shops. Its like a huge maze. It even has its own map. It is well known for its jewellery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather, gold jewellery and the like.

So the next few hours were spent in looking at the shops and a hunt for some good leather jackets (=Pretty!!) that we could even reasonably be expected to open in Mumbai. Also we looked around for magnets, t-shirts and other stuff that we could really buy. (=I mean the leather jackets, a little weird but t-shirts is cool..)

There is also a section selling Turkish Antiques for those who have the taste and those who can dip into their pockets. There were bronze statues, old clocks and watches, meerschaum pipes (=A type of stone which is found mostly in Turkey, is a fascinating subject)

Lunch was an affair we had to work on because there were restaurants in the lanes basically offering the same stuff at shocking prices so we kept the hunt.

We passed through a lot of shops selling Apple Tea (=As a powder not the drink) and Turkish Lamps. The Lamps are beautifully done and would have looked beautiful in any house but for the fact that we live in a virtual dust bowl..There wouldn’t be a day we’d not spent cleaning it.

We got ourselves some ‘Istanbul’ T-shirts and then found the perfect place for lunch (Photo 9). After a sumptuous meal (=Rice n Lamb+aubergine curry, a Döner, some rice with chicken kebaps and some pasta!) we made our way home. There were also shops that were selling gold and jewellery which is sold by weight and the current price of the euro and gold. Also there were good chunky necklaces that one can  see at Colaba Causeway 😛

It was a rainy Istanbul that greeted us when we came out of the Grand Bazaar and walked our way to the hotel. We met an Indian (=A businessman from Jaipur who frequents for business) so that was nice. And we were back to our room after finishing a massive half day tour!!!

Coming Up Next: Exploring Istanbul-Galata Bridge, Galata Tower, A Fishy Affair!!

Stay Tuned

Outside the Blue Mosque

Cutey crows

Just a random pic

The first place i saw the Indian Flag

Carpet weaving

Shops leading to the Grand Bazaar

Entrance to the Grand Bazaar

Cobbled Roads

Lunch!!

Blue..bLue..Blue a Mosque lies ahead- Inside Sultanahmet Camii


Day 2: 11th April 2011.

After the Hippodrome, we were ushered into (=Rather like sheep don’t you think, being directed from one place to another??)

Next Stop: Sultanahmet Camii / Blue Mosque

Fact: It is known as Blue Mosque because of the blue Iznik tiles that decorate its interior. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice.

While this Mosque is in active use for prayer, it is also a tourist attraction. While entering the mosque, everyone has to remove their shoes but there are plastic bags provided to the people to keep their shoes in. Also there are brochures about Islam so people get a bird’s eye view of the religion.

The people are quite strict about removing shoes, you pass through checking even after you’ve removed them to be doubly sure. This is really a testimony to how proud the Turks are of their traditions, What must Be Done Must Be Done. Period. (Photo 5)

We did see quite a few firangs (=Oops forgive the Indian way of saying it, a lot of whites would be very racist) complaining about this but the Turks didnt give a damn. You want to come, off go your shoes sir!!

The Mosque faces the Ayasofya on one side and also the Hippodrome. Meaning the Mosque is sandwiched between the Ayasofya and the Hippodrome.

Psst:  Ayasofya was built by the Grand Architect Sinan (=who built more than 450 monuments in Turkey talk about Monopoly!!) , Sultan Ahmad II while commissioning the Blue Mosque appointed Sinan’s student to build the mosque.

Try as he might, he could not build a mosque as big as the Ayasofya. So instead of building a Mosque with 4 minarets which was in case a mosque was Imperial and used for Ceremonies, he built in 6 Minarets…(=Duh Student wants to outgrow the teacher,,,any problem with that??)

At its lower levels and at every pier, the interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, made at Iznik (the ancient Nicaea) in more than fifty different tulip designs. The tiles at lower levels are traditional in design, while at gallery level their design becomes flamboyant with representations of flowers, fruit and cypresses.

(=Long live Wikipedia>>!!)

Info Snippets: IZNIK TILES

The name comes from a region in Turkey (also called Anatolia). Iznik tiles are hand painted on quartz (=A semi precious mineral)  Each tile takes about 2-3 months and is painted with natural dyes and glazed with egg white and fired in a kiln. It is a dying art in Turkey now and there are organisations that are taking efforts to ensure that the art continues.

The tiles on the back balcony wall are recycled tiles from the harem in the Topkapı Palace, when it was damaged by fire in 1574.

The most delicate part of the Mosque were the Stained glass windows (Photo 8). Also the lamps that they used were oil lamps and there was a system to divert the smoke into a separate room to be used as calligraphic ink (=Smart!!). So there is not a black speck on the ceiling save for that painted on the tiles.

Also a thing about the carpets:

The whole mosque is carpeted (Photo 4) and there are lines on it some darker than the other. The 2 dark red lines denote the place that a person takes when they bend down in prayer (=Remember how Muslims bend down in prayer on the floor, this is so that when the Mosque is full, your bum doesn’t get squashed in someone’s face!!)

So we were given about half an hour to explore the Mosque and reassemble outside. During this time we went and clicked pictures of the Mosque (=And each other lol)

We also clicked a picture with a fellow tourist, Jeremy who had opted for the full day tour.

Jeremy is from Philadelphia but now stays in Basel, Switzerland. Also he’s been to Mumbai (=and been in the traffic!!) He was even here during the world cup. So it was nice to interact with him.

After looking around in wonder at the mosque, we left.

Ooh!!: Even though this was a mosque, there was nobody who was wearing a veil over their heads, Although we had put our hoods on as a mark of respect. Turkey is a secular country where religion and politics are separate.

This means that even though 90% of Turkish population is Muslim, only about 20-30% are practicing Muslims.  This means that even religion is left to the choice of the person. (=We never got a choice to practice, we just had to!!)

So as we explored Turkey we came to know a lot about the country and also about Islam as a religion and how free and open it can be.

That wraps up the Blue Mosque. After the blue mosque we moved on to a carpet showroom and discovered a lot more things.

Coming Up: Matis and Kaleens…Outer sights, Historical Peninsula

Stay Tuned

Exteriors of the Mosque

The Inner Dome

Inner Lights

Red Carpets

Chappals here n there

A column with Iznik tiles

Calligraphy on the ceiling

Delicate stained glass windows

Beauty!!

The family

Roman Hippodrome- ChaRIOT into the past


ay 2: 11th April 2011

After a long trip to the Chora Museum we made our way to the Roman Hippodrome

For this we had to drive through some narrow lanes. Its quite a remarkable skill to drive through cobbled roads that wind up and down, through hotels, houses and markets.

Ooopsie!! 

When we got out of the van no wait the bus to go to the Hippodrome, it was Sunny. So we like smart idiots decided to leave our mufflers and caps in the van. But when we went to the Hippodrome, it began to blow..err the wind began to blow (=Damn why do they say the wind began to blow takes the fun out of writing why can’t we say It began to Wind like It began to Rain….?)

So we saw the Hippodrome/Egyptian Obelisk/ Serpent Column all shivering!!!

A little bit about the Hippodrome

1. It doesn’t exist today

2. You have to imagine it

 

Wikileaks (=Well I’m leaking Wikipedia ka gyan to you all so effectively leaking Wiki :P)

Hippodrome is a Greek word for a stadium..like a Roman Circus for horse racing and chariot racing

(=Wait a minute, isn’t this supposed to be a ROMAN hippodrome??)

 

The Greek hippodrome was similar to the Roman Circus, except that in the latter only four chariots ran at a time. I could really not imagine a huge amphitheatre there where people used to crowd to watch races. Also the square is so well done, it looks like a modern promenade and not a place where a stadium stood.

There are 3 main items of interest in the Hippodrome

  1. Egyptian Obelisk
  2. Serpent Column
  3. Walled Obelisk

Egyptian Obelisk:  To decorate the Hippodrome, various emperors used to bring in works of art from abroad. This one is a huge column which  was brought from Egypt to erect inside the racing track. The Obelisk was cut into 3 pieces and then brought to Constantinople by Emperor Theodosius II . It seems it was cut into 3 pieces and then brought to Constantinople….Only 1 piece remains.

 

Serpent Column: This was brought to Constantinople after the victory of the Greeks over the Persians in the Persian wars in the 5th Century. The Serpent heads were destroyed in the 17th Century. Parts of the heads which were recovered are in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum

Walled Obelisk: This was covered with some plastic sheet, maybe because it was under repair. It seems the original was covered with gilded bronze plates which were stolen during the Crusades.

We really couldn’t see much because it was very windy and we were shivering!!! Also our guide was rushing us into the Blue Mosque!!! This is why it is really preferred to travel on your own. Then you can stay at a place for as long as you like and not be rushed about.

That just about wraps up The Hippodrome. I would have liked to have walked down the promenade, i’ve seen beautiful pictures of it online. (=Damn the exams i missed on some good research!!)

To be Continued: Blue..blue blue A Mosque lies ahead; Matis n Kaleens…Carpets et all

 

A Mosaic at Chora Church

 

A panel in the Parecclesion

 

Heiroglyphics on the Obelisk

 

The bottom of the Egyptian Obelisk

All in a Day’s Work – Istanbul in a Rush


Day 2 – 11th April 2011

As per our travel agent’s plans, we were taking a half day tour of Istanbul today. We were actually supposed to take it on the 13th and it included a tour of the Hagia Sophia/Ayasofya. So we called the Travel Agency in Istanbul that was handling the tours we’d booked and got it interchanged. So the tour on 13th became the Tour on 11th because we’d already covered one of the items in the tour. (=The tours are flexible that way and always include a pick up and a drop)

Oh a thing i’d forgotten to mention, Our hotel stay included breakfast so we had to go to the breakfast room which was on the top of the hotel. It was a terrace with large windows. It was beautiful to go in the morning and see the Bosphorus and Istanbul looking sleepy with mist around.

Our breakfast was always some cereal, eggs in varieties, aubergine with potatoes and youghurt, cut vegetables, some noodles, bread, cold cuts, jams and preserves. There was the customary tea and coffee and canned juice. If you wanted fresh juice they would make it live (=in front of your eyes, give u a straw with decorations on it) but charge you 7 TL for it (=Rs 210 for some juice?? Ridiculous)

But the menu would remain same for all the days with slight variations in the yoghurt dishes (=with or without aubergine)

So, at about 8:30am our pick up van came to take us for our “Half Day Istanbul Tour”. There were a lot of people to be picked up from the adjoining hotels (=In the area where we stayed, there were many hotels in the by lanes)

Like wayward sheep, we were all collected and driven towards the Dolmabache Palace where people were again shepherded into different buses as per the tour they had opted for. But there was no problem for us we stayed in the same bus. Along with us were some people who were German and needed a German guide. The English people included us, some people who were from a cruise that was taking a halt at Istanbul and some people who had opted for the Full Day Tour.

Info Snippets:

Our Guide Aziz was telling us stories about

1. Our driver (=He thought driving in Istanbul was tough during the rush hours. Apparently he hasn’t heard of Bombay Oops Mumbai and its traffic!!)

2. The Aqueducts that used to bring water from the Belgrade Forest to Istanbul, built during the Roman Times

3. The fact how every Turkish Man has to serve a year in the Armed Forces in any capacity

4. How he had to pay 1300 Euros for his wife’s wedding gown(= She had to pay 250 Euros to which a passenger remarked that it was a fair bargain 😛 :P)

5. Hotel Paradise which was the first hotel in Istanbul (=Reportedly, they spent $220 million for its interior decoration last year- Here Agatha Christie had stayed with Prime Minister of Turkey)

6. How Tulips Originated from Turkey and when the people from the Netherlands came, they saw and they took to claim their own. (=However we heard that they say the Tulips came from somewhere else in Netherlands not mentioning Turkey from another traveler)

7.The Orient Express –

First Stop: Chora Church and Museum also called Kariye Muzessi

This Church happens to be situated in a place which needs the driver to drive through narrow lanes. Squiggling through the narrow lanes we reached the Church. The guide Aziz had already got us tickets.

The charges for the tour include (usually)

  • The entry tickets (=A fancy affair in themselves)
  • Lunch (=If opted for full day tour)
  • Transfer from one place to another, Pick up from Hotel and Drop Off to hotel/any other place desired which is within the route

Chora Church/ Kariye Muzesi/Kariye Camii was

1st- Greek Orthodox Church

2nd – A Neighborhood Mosque

3rd- A Museum

 

Fact: You can tell the Status of the Mosque by counting the number of Minarets that the Mosque has (=Status meaning, the type of visitors or purpose)

If the Mosque has 1 Minaret: Neighborhood Mosque : For the locals of the area

2 Minarets: Imperial Mosque : For the Clergy and Other Nobles

 >2 Minarets: Super Special, Huge, Famous Mosque used to Commemorate an occasion or for Crowning a New Emperor/ Marriage of the Emperor etc

Back to the Church eh Museum…

The Chora Church was originally built outside the walls of Constantinople, to the south of the Golden Horn. Literally translated, the church’s full name was the Church of the Holy Saviour in the Country: (=Wikipedia ki Jai!!)

The Church is famous for its Frescos and Mosaics depicting the life of Virgin Mary and Christ. There are 4 parts of the Museum

  • Exonarthex (=North)
  • Esonarthex (=South)
  • Naos (=Main body of Church)
  • Parecclesion (=Side Chappel)

There were a lot of people from South Korea and Japan as well as from Germany because they had translators with them.

The church is beautifully decorated with frescos. The Museum Rules forbid a person from using flash while clicking pictures of the frescos lest they cause damage to the frescos. Some frescos were in a bad shape but that was done during the Iconoplastic Age when any painting/mosaic of a human was considered as a form of idol worship

The mosaics in this Church had 3 layers which we discovered when we saw a damaged mosaic of Christ. Also, the people during the Greek civilisation had used a technique to split up a piece of marble so that there was an exact mirror image in a tile. So there were 2 marble pieces which had the same pattern looking like a mirror image. It seemed that this technique took them 2-3months to do.

Charity with a Heart:

We found out that in these mosques, there was always a SOUP KITCHEN. In these kitchens, food was served to the poor and hungry.

But, but and but this place had NO WINDOWS which meant that people outside could not see who was getting free food inside. Thats really nice and thoughtful

Verdict for Chora Church:

Unless you are an art lover or a historian, this place can easily be skipped. Its a neighbourhood mosque that has been preserved extremely well. Every little bit of history has been kept intact and made it a place of tourist interest

(=Imagine having every small temple with its history and stories documented and properly preserved!!! How nice that would be but what a Mammoth task!!)

I’ll continue the rest in another note

Keep tuned in for : Roman Hippodrome- Chariot into the past, Blue..blue and blue..A mosque lies ahead, Kalins and Magical Carpets, Grand Bazaar, Galata Bridge, Galata Tower n Fishy Dinner all on Day 2

 

Apple Cai, A note late but nonetheless

Yerebatin Sarnici or Yerebatin Saray1


Yerebatin Sarnici or Yerebatin Saray1

After exploring ‘Hagia Sophia’ or ‘Aya Sophia’ or ‘St Sophia’ (=Too many names) we came out to the Sultanahmet Square where the two most beautiful monuments of Istanbul, The Blue Mosque (=Sultanahment Camii) and the Aya Sophia face each other.

As we left the Aya Sophia, we looked in awe at the huge mosque ahead of us. Now since my sister and my dad had done some reading, they knew it was the Blue Mosque but I didn’t, so I was amazed while I clicked pictures of the cobbled paths and the many roadside sellers.

 

The small and cute stands there sell 3 things

  1. Corn (=Yuck!! No Way, Indian ones are much better)
  2. Simit (=type of bread with sesame/til on it with or without a cheese filling)
  3. Kestane or Chestnuts roasted
  4. Cinnamon cakes (=Spicy and not so sweet)

 

So we helped ourselves to some Simit with cheese and soaked in the atmosphere.

This time is the best to visit Turkey, just off the winter which is quite harsh in the interiors and just before the heat wave hits across Turkey. The weather is extremely pleasant and enjoyable with temperatures between 8-16 degree C during the day and from5-10 degree C at night.

 

There was a trio that was performing in the Sultanahmet Square as a part of the  Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi (=I’m sorry I don’t know the exact translation Büyük means big and şehir is city)

At that point it really struck me that Istanbul integrates art into its very fibre. There is an appreciation for all forms of art here be it with history, relics and frescos or be it with music, paint and any other form of expression.

I guess we really don’t see much of that in India with not much inclination to appreciation of art barring those who actually practice.

We also saw the tram lines in Istanbul for the first time.

Following which we went to the Cistern.

Let me brief you a little about how the Cisterns and Aqueducts came into being.

An Ottoman Building using an Aqueduct

The Romans constructed numerous aqueducts to serve any large city in their empire, as well as many small towns and industrial sites. The city of Rome had the largest concentration of aqueducts, with water being supplied by eleven aqueducts constructed over a period of about 500 years. They served drinking water and supplied the numerous baths and fountains in the city, as well as finally being emptied into the sewers, where the once-used gray water performed their last function in removing waste matter. (=Long live Wikipedia)

Now the aqueducts were not limited only to Rome. With the spread of the Roman Empire, the aqueducts and Cisterns spread to different states such as Bulgaria,  Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Israel, Macedonia, Tunisia, Lebanon, Spain. Which sows the effect the Roman Empire has had over the world.

Also they made Cisterns which were made to catch rainwater and to store it. Cisterns are distinguished from wells because of the waterproof lining that Cisterns have. There aren’t many Cisterns found today.

This Cistern is very famous for the two heads of Medusa that adorn 2 of the pillars

Fact: The Cistern was built in the 6th Century by the orders of Byzantine Emperor Justinian. It is 9 m high with 12 rows of 28 columns

Fable Speak: There are many stories about Medusa. The most common one says that she had a face so ugly that people who saw her would be repulsed and would turn to stone.

This is why her head appears at 2 columns to ward off evil

The second fable talks about why her hair was turned to stone. It says she was the fairest maiden of the times and once she lay with Poseidon, the king of the seas, Goddess Athena was enraged and so cursed her transforming her beautiful hair to snakes. (=Poor her, jealous goddess)

But there is no accurate record about what really happened to Medusa although she remains an evergreen part of history

Anyway back to the Cistern. The Cistern has been constructed in such a manner that even though it is below the ground, there is fresh air through ventilation shafts constantly.

This too like other museums has an entrance fee (=10 TL or € 6) Most of the people come to see the Medusa’s heads positioned in the 2 pillars.

In one pillar the head of Medusa is facing sideways and in 1 pillar it is upside down. There are many stories as to why these were positioned there and only there and in these positions not looking straight forward. But because there are no accurate records, until a time machine is invented, we can only speculate.

The water even though old was clean. There were places where people had thrown in coins. There is a Roman legend that if you throw a coin i the Trevi’s Fountain,Rome, Italy that you will come back again!! (I should throw many coins there then!!)

Even though this was constructed in the 6th century, it has been preserved very well today with adequate signs for tourists with information. There are also plastic sheets put over the arches that need to be repaired.

Musings: (=How much i think!! My brain should be banned)

I often wonder why we as a country with significant scientific advancement can never manage to set funds aside or use it for the repair, maintenance and restoration of our national wealth. I guess with the decades of ingrained mindset that our sole purpose is to achieve a growth figure at all costs, we’ve let national wealth, arts and culture die a horrendous death, leaving the world deprived of all that India and its rich heritage has to offer.

So after we were finished with the Basilica Cistern, we saw some magnets and postcards (=Everyone sells magnets and postcard) and we went to have Doner Kebaps in the same place we’d seen before.

We had some Doner (=Turkish franky with no oil or sauce), Coffee (=Expresso Leggerimo with Arabica and other South American Varieties). This coffee had a few chocolates and coffee beans coated with chocolate as a side dish. Also we tasted apple chai (=Tea in Turkish is also called as Chai). It was the yummiest and they serve it in such small and cute cups with tiny tea spoons. There is sugar added and cubes also on the side.

After the long afternoon, we had a chilled out session in Room 203 accounting for the expenses (=My job 😛 :P). After which there was the dilemma of deciding the place where we could go out for dinner (=Remember there was lunch at Ozler this is still Day 1). We made a trip to the terrace, (=Our hotel to see if the restaurant was worth going to).

There was a balconey where you could go and sit in the cool evening air and smoke a Narghile (=Pronounced Nar-ghee-Le)

But the menu was very limited. You had to order certain sets like a full meal with an entree, a salad, a meat dish and some dessert. There was no two ways about it. But there prices were quoted in Euros (=Oh No!!) So we decided to skip it and go out exploring. The person who had helped us out in the Convenience store while buying Turkish Delights recommended a restaurant called ‘Balkan’ and gave us directions. We had a little bit of searching to do and it was in a lane that was being repaired (=Hey its not only India where there are dug up roads!!)

Balkan is a Self Service Restaurant meaning- U pick the dish from a limited range, The person serves, You pay per plate for what you order. And it turned out to be our cheapest meal of the whole journey (=:P :P).

So we had 2 chicken gravys, 2 plates of rice, 2 Ayrans, 2 Rice puddings (=Ah yes…yummy!!! All that sweet mixture with caramelized sugar on top!!!! :P) and the food was good.

  • Turns out in Turkey these types of restaurants are ‘Lowest of the Low’ where you have nobody to serve you, you pick and carry. But the place was clean, the food was good and inexpensive and the quantity was better than the other restaurants that waited on you hand and foot.

After our dinner, we made a trip to “Diva Discount Mart” which was our faithful cost saving provider where we picked up some Ayran, Water and Flavoured Milk for the tour ahead.

So thus concludes the 3 part ‘Day 1 in Istanbul’

 

Keep Tuned for further notes!!!

 

Basilica Cistern with its pillars

 

Fishes and Coins

 

Medusa upside down

Hagia Sophia – Musings in the Istanbul Rain


Day 1: 10th April 2011

 

After a sumptious lunch at Ozler, we retired to 203 because it had started raining. Spring as in all countries is marked by bare, leaf-less trees and newly blooming flowers. It is also marked by uncharacteristic rains and gloomy, cloudy skies. Travellers to London during the months of April and May will add that the gray skies (=How is it spelt again grAy or grEy..does it make a difference?) oh yea gray London skies add to the gloom.

Yes so we were in the room clicking pictures and waiting for the rains to stop. After a while we said, its going to rain for some time doesn’t mean we sit n twiddle our thumbs, we dont come to Turkey everyday (=As if!!! I wish we could, kya maze!!)

Yea so we went out on our own exploring Istanbul. Inquiries made at the reception yielded that the Topkapi Palace or Topkapi Sarayi is just 5 minutes from the hotel. So we headed out to explore.

But first things first. Thirsty explorers never make good writers or reporters. Water. From where but?? In a place with scant traces of English that too!!

Luckily for us there was a Convenience Store just opposite to our hotel (= I’m tellin you all good stuff was centred around our hotel and us!!!) So we picked up a bottle of water and also Turkish Delights which are sweets made with honey and dry fruits. My mum thought a white sweet with dry fruits resembled a sweet she used to eat from Armenia but it was not to be

 

Fact:  Turkish Delights or Lokum is a family of confections based on a gel of starch or sugar (=honey used mostly insetad of sugar). Premuim varieties consist of chopped dates, pistachio, hazelnuts or walnuts bound by gel. Now the shop we went to had Turkish Delights in flavours of Milk,Kiwi,Cherry+Pommegranate and Lemons (=Yummy!!)

Well we’d just landed in Turkey on a sunday so we were caught without any Turkish lira on hand. The people at the reception informed us that most change offices were closed on Sunday and it was better to get Euros changed there as compared to a bank because banks charge more commission.

So we didn’t have Lira to pay the Convenience Store lady. But she accepted euros and gave us change in Lira (=At a low exchange rate of 2TL per Euro). So we got our first Liras in hand.

 

Then we walked out to the main street where we saw tram lines and a tram station (=Gulhane Park). Also we could see that the skies had lifted. Right in front of us were the walls of the Topkapi Palace. It has been beautifully maintained because the Palace looks like its been cut out from another era. Also there were lot of pansies and tulips planted everywhere so the sidewalks were green and pretty.

 

We passed quite a few restaurants with their Menu’s displayed out and had a sales rep some out and try to bring us in.

But on learning that we were not going to eat there they left us with their menus.

 

The road to Hagia Sophia turns up the hill from the Topkapi Palace. On that way there were hotels, restaurants and shops selling leather items. My sister loved a goatskin jacket but its of no use in a place as hot and humid as Mumbai.

But we did have our first encounter with Turkish Kebabs (=Which are known as ‘Kebaps’). They don’t cook it the way we do in India. They have a whole load of meat on a skillet (=a stick…i love the fancy names) which keeps turning in circles. On one side is a coal-oven type thingie so the meat gets cooked in coal and gets a smoky flavour along with the juices and marinade which makes the whole thing way too tasty. When a side has browned enough, the Chef cuts pieces off (=just shaves the top layer off) and then it is served in different ways.

 

Also we found a change office that was open so we changed Euro to TL. There were more restaurants, shops selling tourist souvenirs, magnets, trinkelts etc etc. But we skipped all of that and came to the Sultanahmet Square where we entered the ‘Aya Sophia’.

There were two lines outside, one for people who already had a pass and for those who had to get a new pass. So we went in and charged the entry to the Credit Card. (=Aya Sophia Entrance Feesis 20TL per person quite a heavy sum)

 

Also there were audio guides available in a host of languages. The guy at the Audio Guide centre took one of our passports as some security (=duh what do we do with an audio guide??)

Now the Aya Sophia is a huge museum. It has a lower gallery and also an upper gallery. Plus it was a Church that was converted into a Museum in 1934. This is one of the best things that a country can do. Insteads of going into a dispute about whether it is a church or a mosque, open it to the public and preserve the heritage (=It would never work in India we’re too bothered about petty religion to see clearly)

 

So like our tourist brochure says, there are 50 points about which information is given in the audio guide. I’m not going to mention all the 50 we didnt see all either and the history behind it all overwhelms you especailly if you dont know much about it or you hate history. I’d prefer to settle for a guide. They know what they are talking about and often come cheaper. 😀

 

Giving a lot of information about the Aya Sophia is not necessary. So i’ll be detailing about the main things.

 

1.Historical Background

Aya Sophia was constructed as a Greek Orthodox Church in the year 360 during the rein of Emperor Constantinius. Due to riots in subsequent centuries, the church was burnt down twice. Also it had been destroyed by earthquakes, as a result of which many parts of domes were destroyed. The second church was commissioned by Emperor Theodosius II.

 

During the subsequent periods the walls were used to make Mosaics. During the Iconoplastic period, any Mosaic was supposed to be a form of idol worship. So Mosaics were destroyed or plastered over. In any case most of the Mosaics have stayed on for centuries pointing out to the artistic brilliance of those ages.

 

The Church was converted into a Mosque in 1453 when Sultan Mehmet II (=Also called Mehmet the Conqueror) laid siege to Istanbul then Constantinople and thus started an empire which would rule Turkey for decades (=Ottoman Empire)

 

2.Ottoman Calligraphy Plates:

After St. Sophia became ‘Ayasofya’ or a Mosque, there were gigantic circular framed disks or medallions inscribed with the names of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, the first four caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, and the two grandchildren of Mohammed: Hassan and Hussain. (Photo 2)

 

3. Mihrab and its Chandeliers: (Photo 3)

A Mihrab is something that is seen in all Mosque-Museums in Turkey. Islam believes that when Muslims pray, they should pray in the direction of Mecca. So a Mihrab is constructed pointing out the direction of Mecca. The Mihrab is superbly decorated with calligraphic inscriptions.

In the 16th century the sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520–1566) brought back two colossal candles from his conquest of Hungary. They are the two pillar like posts adorning the Mihrab.

 

4.Imperial Loggia (Photo 4)

In earlier times, the Sultans used to pray along with the common folks coming to the Mosque. But with the spread of territories and Islam, the number of followers increased thus necessitating a special chamber where the members of the Imperial Family could pray. The outer marble has been done up delicately with intricate carvings of metal which has been illuminated brilliantly by the Museum authorities.

 

5.Minbar (The golden door in Photo 5) 

The Minbar is a raised speaker’s stand where an Imam (=Leader of prayer or priest) stands to deliver sermons. It is also a symbol of authority.The Minbar is usually shaped like a small tower with a pointed roof and stairs leading up to it.

 

6.Deesis Mosaic

The Deesis Mosaic shows Christ along with Virgin Mary and John the Baptist on the Judgement Dayshowing the pain and suffering of the humans. It is the most destroyed of the Byzantine Mosaics with 3/4th being heavily damaged but is significant for the expressions on Mary and John’s faces.

 

7.Other Mosaics

There are many mosaics of Virgin Mary and Christ especially one at the entrance. There are also Mosaics of the various Emperors and Empresses making donations to the Church. Significant among these is is the Mosaic of Empress Zoe because she had many marriages and thus the face of the husband in the Mosaic kept changing!! (=Talk of keeping up with the times).There are also Mosaics of various priests.

 

8.Other Significant Sights

  • The Hagia Sophia Library is a sight in itself. It is said to have held more than 20000 scrolls and writings.
  • Also the unique architecture is such that it allowed the Architects to put in forty windows around the base of the dome. Hagia Sophia is famous for the mystical quality of light that reflects everywhere in the interior of the nave.
  • There are also inscriptions from the Synod period dated 1166 as well as a Sarcophagus (=A funeral case for the corpse) of St Irene.
  • There are underground Cisterns that used to supply water when needed.
  • The Marble Water Jars date from the Hellenistic Period(=When the Greek influence was at its peak)
  • There is an Imperial Fountain where ceremonies used to take place. It is beautifully decorated.
  • There is a ‘Medresse’ or a religious school where children are trained to be Imams (=I hope i’m getting it right.

So after this hugely historical tour we photographed the tulips and rested our tired legs. Then we returned the audio guide (=We need our passports back!!) and made our way to the Basilica Cistern.

 

The Hagia Sophia looks red and majestic from the outside. It is a true spectacle of art surviving through the ages and

the brilliant tactical move of converting places of worship into centres of knowledge.

 

Coming Up: Yerebatin Cistern, Second Day Tour,Exploring Istanbul

 

(p.s i hope the background was informative)

 

The large dome

 

A view from the Upper Gallery Ottoman Plates in Green

 

Mihrab in all its splendour

 

The Imperial Loggia

 

The Minbar is the golden entrance in the pic

 

The Deesis Mosaic

 

Hagia Sophia from outside

Turkish Delights – Where are we heading off to this time??


Notes are BaCK Again (=with a vengeance of course!!! 😛 :P)

 

After a string of domestic tours (=notes of which have not been fully uploaded, my apologies, hey wait why am i apologising, blame those exams!!!) an international tour was being thought of (=thought of?? it was a unanimous demand)

 

Initially it was HONG kONG that we were to visit, but the March 11 Tsunami, “tsunamied” our chances of getting to HK and China atleast in the near term horizon (=damn damn!!)

 

After whirlwind planning and 3 weeks to get bookings and visa formalities in place, the trip was put together for us and i will put it for u (=Wow sounds so formal!!!) Well i would generally advise you to travel by yourself to get a hang of the place you are visiting and you generally look out for good options but, But and BUT..no time so the travel agents made a dime (=marks of Turkey!!! i’m becoming a poet!! :P)

 

Skip the details…..(=the ride to the airport, the food we had, the rush at the Terminal, cranky babies etc etc)

 

9th April : Finished with Exams (=TY University, i do seem to be all “growed up”)

9th April : 11:30pm

last minute packing, locking the suitcase with little time for sleep

9th April : 5:15 am

Seat Belt on, pilot ready and we take off!!!

 

Although i never really sleep in flights and generally have a motion sickness problem, i slept like a log. I barely remember the breakfast i had (=Oh No!! Wait i do, it was mushrooms fried in butter n pepper, a weird layered pastry, cake, fruits n bread)

Although we had a  screen with lots of good movies, the Stewards (=yes we had good looking smiley stewards!!) gave us the head phones probably when we were nodding off so i don’t remember. Also the movies didnt work that well. So we played a game called “Word Traveler” which helps you to build up a vocab so we tried Turkish but i dont remember anything!!.

 

Alright, i dont have photos but the first view when we were closing in on Turkey, Istanbul actually was amazing. There were blue seas (=which we learnt were the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara actually), green patches and villas with red roofs, it was like a fairy tale. i dont have a picture to post but it was very scenic.

 

After the usual rush to get out of the airplane and get luggage, we made our way through all the duty free to find our transfer van. The first thing that struck my girly senses was that, Turkish people are an eye candy (lol). Second, they are fair and incredibly beautiful. We found the person who was supposed to transfer us to the hotel. His name happened to be something funny, like Tootsie or Tootles or something. The driver’s name was Arjan (=the easy ones we remember)

 

And Wow, Istanbul shocked us!! It was beautiful. Wide roads, lots of plants especially tulips, really really beautiful as the pictures show. We were not finished looking at the flowers when the road wound us up to the sea. Beautiful..i really don’t have the words. There were old buildings on our left and parks, boats, gulls and the sea on the right, with the smooth traffic free road ahead.

 

There’s not a lot known about India in Turkey and vice versa, we don’t know a lot about the country despite there being lot of similarities between the cultures. But i’ll comment on the culture and the city later. Our first impressions were Dumbstruck.Amazed.Wow.Super Weather!!!!

 

Our Hotel was located in the ‘Historical Peninsula’ which is the place where all the monuments and travel spots are within close reach. So to our surprise, instead of keeping a straight road, we took a left and went up a winding road taking turns through a lot of hotels to find ours, ‘The Golden Horn, Serkeci, Istanbul’ (=Thats pronounced Sir-Ke-Chi).

 

We checked out our rooms, (=2 separate ones, we’re quite grown up now!!) which didn’t have much of a view but that doesn’t matter. We checked out some of the flight magazines. The ‘Istanbul Shopping Festival’ was on at that time. Also there were articles about how Istanbul was a “Global City’ and a ‘Melting Pot of Cultures’ (=Very 12th std french textbook like) also about Istanbul as a shopping destination. People will remember Istanbul as the city that kept changing the name from ‘Byzantium’ to ‘Constantinople’ to ‘Istanbul’.

Most of the magazine articles were in Turkish, with English translations by the side. Also i read about Turkish brands and about a place to visit in Turkey which has amazing waterfalls.

Also to our surprise, the TV in my parents room (=very ICAI style, the kids room hereinafterreferred to as 202 and the parents room as 203)

Ya back to the TV,(got lost in the brackets!!) There were channels with Turkish soaps (=US soaps dubbed in Turkish) other Turkish channels and BBC (=1 channel, for Christ’s sake, English anyone!!) So effectively we were cut off from the English speaking world and media (=Quite nice actually)

 

Turkey is 2.5 hours behind Indian.Standard.Time (=I say they r ahead but whatever!) so by that time which was about 12:30 -1 Turkey Time, we were all ready to eat a horse (=not literally, i guess we could eat a few chicken maybe and a whole vegetable patch)

 

So we went to the Reception and asked for places where we could have Authentic Turkish Food. The Bell Boy, Bell Man actually (=well he was old and had a salt n pepper head, what can i say) recommended this place called Ozler just opposite our hotel. So we made our way to Ozler.

 

Fact: Like in all European Countries, Turkey Restaurants keep a copy of their Menu Cards outside the restaurants. When a curious bystander comes looking at the dishes or the prices, an appointed waiter, salesguy actually, comes and sweet talks you into having a meal there.

 

Of course this didn’t work the first time because we were already going there. The restaurant apart from a few starters which are vegetarian (=aubergine, olives, salads and other stuff), the main course was Non Vegetarian.

 

Discovery: Istanbul Sensation  ‘AYRAN’ = Youghurt + Salt. This drink is a sensation. Its available everywhere and is refreshing, cool and awesome (=Only for a price of 3 Lira in restaurants, and 1 Lira in the SuperMarkets)

 

Ayran was our constant companion till we left Turkey.

Ok so our lunch was some Yummy Lamb Kebabs, Chicken Sheesh and Bread

We also had some Cut Fruit on the House (=yipee!!) which was delicious, i mean huge pieces of juicy oranges,,,,wow

 

Daily Info Bits: Restaurants serve you unlimited amount of bread if you dine there. So for all the hoggers – Eat, Munch n Bite

 

The One who took our order was nice enough to let us see the kitchen and introduce us. We saw their big ovens (=no pictures sorry)

 

Also before we entered, my dad and i were seeing the prices and my mom and sis were chatting with one of the sales-guys called ‘George Clooney’ lolz and he thought my mom n my sis were MY KIDS…yea yea not funny i dont look that old!!!! So he was trying to cheer me up while i fake cried!! (=OK Stop Laughing!!)

 

So in the end we got a pic with him too!!

 

After the lunch, we made our way to the hotel room 203..and decided about our day. We decided to spend the day walking around and exploring the area. We had a 2 tours around the city looking at the attractions. We’d landed on Sunday and the Tours were on Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

Coming Up: Exploring Around, Istanbul Everywhere, Hagia Sophia, Yerebatin Cistern, Galata Bridge, Galata Tower all on Day 1

 

Keep Tuned

 

 

 

 

Turkey…Our Transfer Van

 

Sights off Turkish Airport

 

Ataturk Airport

 

The hotel

 

gEORGE cLOONEY