Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Monday in Istanbul

Let's skip over Sunday for the time being, I am very behind.  Sunday was a very unpleasant day mostly, because it started to rain and I was freezing all day.  The Turkish part of this trip has improved considerably, along with the weather.  Monday was bright and sunny, and I figured out that I could ignore Jasmine, our guide, and enjoy the sights we visited without paying much attention to her.  We walked to the Aya Sophia, and rambled around the impressive gold mosaics of Christian figures (partially destroyed, because the gold was too tempting to leave on the walls), including a giant mosaic of a cherubim with an eerie face.  The crowds were much thinned out, because the bicycle race of the day before was over, and the three cruise ships parked in the Bosphorus had sailed away.

We also visited the Blue Mosque.  All the female visitors had to wear head scarves and everyone had to take off their shoes and carry them around in little plastic bags.  Michael Ellis said that he'd never seen this mosque so empty, but there were still several hundred folks there.  

Blue Mosque visit was followed by a walk through the Hippodrome, where chariot races took place long ago and where an ancient obelisk brought over from Egypt stands, covered with hieroglyphs.  Apparently, the obelisk lay on a beach somewhere for three hundred years before someone bothered to have it lifted up once again.

We went shopping after lunch (lunch was in a Turkish cafeteria).  The Grand Bazaar is a huge interior labyrinth of little shops, lots of jewelry and rugs, but much less sleazy than I expected.  I bought a pretty silver ring and got talked into overpaying a bit for a necklace of more silver and stone, but pretty, and it seems exotic to me!  Better souvenir than a refrigerator magnet, perhaps.  

We ended this very busy day with a cooking class, where a young Turkish man enthusiastically led us through five different Turkish dishes.  We skinned garbanzo beans, slivered chicken, chopped parsley and tomatoes, and then ate it all.  Nothing I would necessarily try at home.  We learned about the various Turkish cooking styles, kebabs in one part of the country, fish and olive oil in another part, and then the Grand Ottoman cooking, which was the stuff prepared in the kitchens of the Topkapi palace for the four thousand residents of that place.  We saw those kitchens on Sunday, with enormous cooking pots.

We're in Cappadocia now, I'm sitting out on the terrace, it's a cool, sunny day, and we;re about to go hiking.  Larry will stay behind and enjoy a Turkish bath.

No comments:

Post a Comment