06.07.2011 - 06.07.2011 86 °F
Our first night we figured out that if we want any hope of sleeping past 3 am, we needed to shut the windows and turn on the air conditioner. Between the early morning call to prayer, construction guys on the street and general city noise, it is hard to sleep until 8 am. Night two went much better, so the morning was a little easier. After breakfast at the hotel, which is quite nice considering we have been eating the same thing for most of the month, we set out for Hagia Sofia. The now museum, was first built as Christian church, then later the Ottomans made it into a mosque. When it was transferred into a mosque, the mosaics and ceiling art were all covered with plaster and then essentially re-decorated. In some areas you can see the crosses coming through under the “newer” art, as almost a watermark. It was very interesting to see, and the mosaics have so much detail it is hard to believe it is made up of tiny little tiles.
We wanted to get over to the Asia side of Turkey, so took one of the touristy bosphorus Cruises, which go up and down the coast on both sides of Turkey. It gave us a nice view of some of the other areas of Istanbul that we knew we wouldn’t be able to see, including portions of the wall that used to surround the entire city. As we cruised along the Asia side, we realized there wasn’t really much over there to see or do as it is very residential, so we decided we wouldn’t take a ferry over and would instead spend the rest of the day bumming around town.
We had yet to buy any souvenirs in Turkey, and at the Grand Bazaar I had seen some various tea kettles and similar things that I wanted to try and get. In typical Erin fashion, every piece I picked up the owner would say, “that one, very expensive” and list a price that even after negotiations wouldn’t be even remotely affordable. Why do I always manage to find the expensive things? After some wondering, Nate and I found one that we liked and had the potential to get in our price range. After a little back and forth, we handed over the rest of our Turkish Lira and we were then the proud owners of a set of copper tea pots that stack. We stopped at the exchange counter to change over the rest of our dollars (we didn’t want to exchange too much from the start, as we only had two days) and then figured out how to spend the rest. Nate got a t-shirt and then we picked up some Turkish Delights as we had yet to try any. Honestly, they weren’t great – not sure if it was because of the ones we picked out or if we just aren’t Turkish Delight people. Probably a combination of the two.
We scouted out restaurants for dinner, and then headed back to the hotel to print off boarding passes and catch up on the blog (sorry for the large amount of posts today, I got a little behind.) After a little BBC News to see what was going on in the rest of the world, we had a lovely dinner at a place TripAdvisor had recommended, Barbeque House. Nate tried another Lentil soup, and we shared a Shepard’s salad (cucumbers, tomato & sweet peppers tossed in some dressing). I had a sort of sweet chicken stew, which was quite amazing, and Nate had a spicy kebab. For me, this was the best thing I have eaten here as much of the food I have tried has been pretty bland. Nate on the other hand, thought last night’s was better – so at least we got something we liked in the last two days. After dinner, we grabbed a few night shots of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia as we have done in most of the cities. Quite a few people were out, and they had a fountain lit in the park, so it was a nice little stroll through the area.
Sadly, tomorrow we start our long track back to Bloomington, Indiana. We fly from Istanbul to Germany, where we then connect on a flight to Toronto and arrive around 7:30 pm. We then have a whole 18 hours before our next flight, so we have booked a hotel to get a little sleep and a shower. We then fly from Toronto back to Indy, where we will catch a shuttle to B-town. It is going to be a very long 2 days, and along the way we will gain 7 hours in time, so I am planning on some serious jet lag through the weekend. We have really enjoyed our trip and the time went way to fast, as all vacations do.