Istanbul, Turkey (DoubleTree by Hilton) Istanbul – Piyalepasa
Today I’m returning to the area of the Blue Mosque to continue where I left off yesterday. I skipped breakfast again and caught the shuttle to Taksim Square, then an Uber to the Blue Mosque.
The Uber driver dropped me off near the Blue Mosque by a large plaza next to the mosque. Since I was hungry, I found a cart that offered the corn on the cob. While sitting there eating my breakfast I noticed a couple of obelisks in the square. I walked over and saw that the first was named the Column of Constantine Porphyrogenetus and the other was an Egyptian obelisk erected by Theodosius, the last Roman emperor who ruled over both the eastern and western half of the empire.
I first visited the Blue Mosque since I was nearby. As expected it wasn’t a long visit. After taking off my shoes and placing them in a plastic bag I walked into the Mosque. As I had heard yesterday, there isn’t much of the interior to see during the restoration. There were a few corners that were not covered, but there was now a temporary ceiling so you can’t see the interior dome of the mosque. No matter, I took a few pictures and left to tour the Hagia Sophia museum.
At the Hagia Sophia I saw one of the guides who I met yesterday. He was able to get me through the ticket and entrance lines so we were inside in less than 10 minutes. Hagia Sophia is a former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum. My guide explained that the Christian elements of the building were uncovered and restored in the 1930’s, so what we see are both Christian and Islam decorations and symbols in one location. I could have never figured out all of this since there has been so much history that has taken place since the 6th century when the first building was constructed. I also found out that much of the building’s construction materials were taken from other buildings in various locations due to a limited treasury. Like a big patchwork quilt.
Though this building is also being refurbished, most of the elements are visible. After my guide left I took a few pictures. My head was filled with so much information and it took me time to process. I am learning all of these historical details that I probably should have learned in high school or college, but I enjoyed American history more at that time and wasn’t interested in what had happened on this side of the world.
My next stop was Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman rulers until the mid-1800’s. Before I bought my tickets I ordered another lemon ice cream from the same vendor where I bought the ice cream cone yesterday. Today I asked that he put two scoops in a cup so I could eat the ice cream while I waited in line for tickets.
While in line I struck up a conversation with a man from Iran. The line was moving very slow so we had plenty of time to talk. We primarily talked about world economics and politics. Also, why the line was moving so slow. It seemed as we got closer to the pay booths the pace picked up and I was in the palace looking around in a few minutes.
It was stated before going in that most people spend about two hours inside the palace, now mainly a museum. There is a large part devoted to the kitchen and serving pieces. Then other rooms and plazas throughout the palace grounds. The views from the palace were amazing and took a video of the Asian side of Istanbul that I posted on my picture site (links below).
The most interesting part of the tour was the rooms that held very sacred relics. One of the most sacred was a staff used by Moses. Other items were attributed to Abraham, King David, and Mohammed. There is much speculation on these relics authenticity, like many of the religious relics from medieval times. Archaeology was not a well-defined science back then. In any case, it was an interesting exhibit.
It was now close to 4:30 and I had enough touring for one day. I walked down the hill to the main street meet up with an Uber. I must have been tired because I requested a pickup but was waiting in the wrong location. It took a couple of tries before my ride showed up.
The driver’s car was a tricked out Mercedes van. It looked like a party vehicle for special occasions. The driver didn’t say a word as he took me to Taksim Square. Once there I was hungry so I visited a McDonald’s and bought a couple of cheeseburgers and sat outside and ate them. From there I walked to the hotel shuttle pickup location but along the way saw a shop that was selling Turkish baklava. Then saw another shop selling baklava and decided I should investigate further. I ended up buying a few and they wrapped them up so I could enjoy later.
On the shuttle back to the hotel I talked with a couple who had a very active three year old. I spoke mainly to the little boy’s mom who said she was in I.T. and an engineer. She is receiving training to be a project manager, but feels her interest is in web design. All the while we were watching the youngster press buttons and being very active. He reminded me of myself when I was that age. She said he may become an engineer too because he is so interested in how everything works.
Now I was tired and was napping soon after I got back to my room. I woke up nearly two hours later and ordered a tuna sandwich, worked on my blog, uploaded pictures and watched “What’s My Line” before going to bed.
Tomorrow I leave for Malta. I have made arrangements for airport transportation in Malta and will meet the hosts when I arrive to the flat. I leave Istanbul at 4:35 p.m. so have plenty of time to sleep in and pack before leaving for the airport. I booked a car from the hotel to the airport and will leave here at 1:30.
Next Stop: Malta