How bazaar…

Alas!!!  A disaster has befallen our heroes!!!  I went to pull out my camera yesterday and was greated by the ominous text … Memory Card Failure !!!  Nooooooo!  How could this be?  I haven’t done anything to you, you little traitorous memory card, you!  How could you fail me now???  And with 200 odd of my photos on it???  If I sound like I’m crying I really, really am!  I need new shoo-hew-hews!!!

🙁  Grrr fucking memory card death.  🙁

Anyway, back on topic – we met the people from our tour yesterday, there are three Americans, one lone Canadian, one lone Kiwi and the rest are Aussies… and only three guys counting Dr Nick.  Hopefully should be a pretty good bunch, but you never know… :S  Actually, as a connoisseur of human folly, I have great expectation of finding at least a couple of them to be particualarly entertaining in a ‘circus people’ kinda way…. keep you posted.

This morning, woke up bright and early with the intentions of going to see the Dolambache Palace which is across the Bosphorous on the other side of Istanbul… but at the last minute did a quick check in the Lonley Planet and discovered that like a lot of stuff all across Europe – it’s closed on a Monday!  Grrr… glad I checked though… will just have to try and catch it when we get back to Istanbul after the tour.

So instead, this morning we headed to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar to have a look at the… well… the spices and stuff :S  The Spice Bazaar was quite different from the touristy Grand Bazaar we went to ealier in the week…. loads of consumables being sold all over the place…. spices, nuts, dried fruits, turkish delisht everywhere, teas, coffees and all good things.  Most of which might present a bit of a challenge to bring home, but I reckon I’ll give it a try on the way back 🙂

spices sale grand bazaar istanbul james bond

After that – we went to the Beyazit Mosque for a sticky beak.  Another beautiful mosque, though it’s not so large as some of the others we went to see earlier in the week.  It amazed me how many of the tourists we saw wandering in paid absolutely no heed for the culture and tradition of the mosque’s community and were wandering around inside with their heads uncovered. At the door to every mosque is usually a fellow advising tourists to remove their shoes and to cover their heads, so nearly everyone woman going into the place has their head covered at least when they go in, but loads of them show no respect and uncover once inside, which I find really odd.  Last thing I would ever want to do is insult people… never know what sort of trouble that could lead to!    

Beyazit Mosque istanbul turkey Beyazit Mosque Istanbul Turkey

When I was in Istanbul last trip, we had a rather arrogant Kiwi guy on our trip – affectionately nicknamed SanQuentin… you know the type – knows everything, blokey, arsehole bouncer type.  Anyway we were all getting ready to go into the Blue Mosque on that trip and a priest outside the mosque was trying to tell SanQuentin’s wife to cover her legs up and was telling her she was too sexy and gesturing towards her knees.. not a problem, until idiot SQ decides to strike the priest!!!  Yes ladies and gents, this guy is so stupid, he decides hitting a muslim holy man is a good idea!  It took a lot of persuading from our guide to keep him out of jail!  should have let him get taken away… mutter mutter mutter…

Tonight – off on an overnight train to Ankara… which is the capital city of Turkey.  We saw on the news that there was some sort of bombing in Ankara this week but we were unable to read or understand any of the news reports….  eek!  wasn’t expecting the terrorism to be so close to our doorsteps when we’re on holidays!  :S    Well, that’s a lie, but I wasn’t expecting it until I got to Pakistan maybe!!!  🙂  We’ll just have to be alert… but not alarmed…..  !!!  😀

A few last things in Sultanahmet…

We’ve spent the morning today catching a few more sites in the Sultanahmet district, which I feel we’ve got to know pretty well by now.  Firstly went to the Hippodrome area to see the Obelisks they have up there… particularly like the Obelisk of Theodosius which seems strangely out of place, yet fits in perfectly ?!?!    I know – that doesn’t make sense… mumble mumble…. dont ask…  :S  Not a great morning in this area… surrounded by American tourists who for some reason seem much noisier than any other variety…. why is that?  They can’t go anywhere without loudly proclaiming things like ‘Dad! Go stand next to Chris!!!’

egyptian obelisk istanbul grand bazaar james bond

After that we went for a good wander through the museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts which was excellent …. had far more local content than the Archeology Museum we did the other day.  There was fantastic long galleries full of the most amazing antique turkish carpets, beautiful embroidery, antique calligraphy works, brass items from the 15thC and 16thC, ceramic flasks and bowls from the 13thC and some beautiful wood work items too…. all showing a decided middle eastern style and design.  It was well worth the 5YTL entrance fee  🙂

islamic textiles archeology museum antique carpets istanbul

In around more annoying American (no offense meant to you Dave2!  I am sure you weren’t an annoying American tourist when you were here last week! 🙂  I managed to take lots of interesting photos of some of the exhibits, in particular this astronomy chart, and this crazy 18thC Astrolabe, which I would just love to pull out and play with 🙂

astrological chart 18thC istanbul museum  archeology museum istanbul textiles



After the museum, we went for a wander around the markets near the Blue Mosque. I remember this area from 12 years ago, where we met this strange little man named Joe (i think) who claimed he was the first hippie in Istanbul and we ended up buying leather goods from him.  I also bought a Turkish puzzle ring from here on my last trip and thought about buying another one today… but seeing that the last one got stolen from my house, I kinda thought maybe it would be tempting nasty arse fate to replace it…. dont want the house to get robbed again :S  Stupid huh?

We are off to meet our fellow travellers this afternoon for the Tukey Unplugged tour what takes off tomorrow.  It is kinda nervy to be meeting a bunch of people that you dont know and you know you wont be able to get away from for the next three weeks!  😀  Hope the turn out to be a relaxed and groovy bunch.

Having a go slow…

After a long, long day with loads of walking yesterday at the Topkapi Palace, I woke up with back pain from hell.  Woke up at 3.30am that is and had a lot of difficulty getting back to sleep…. bad back bad.  So some uncalculated number of pain killers and some breakfast later, we decided it might be a good idea to take it a bit easy today.  Ventured out this morning to enjoy the thrills and spills of public transport Istanbul style and was pleasantly surprised to find it cheap, clean, air conditioned, quick and uber efficient!  Wish we had a light rail like this back in BrisVegas…. YTL1.30 to get on and go as far as you want.

grand bazaar historical attractions Suleymaniye mosque

We took the train up to the Suleymaniye Mosque… and it was absolutely gorgeous.  This mosque is more of a ‘working’ mosque for want of a better term.  There were no gaggles of French tourists or gawking school children, and the place had a peaceful and serene atmosphere.  It was wonderful to be able to wander around and have a good look without feeling like you were being rushed out for the next lot of tourists to pile in.

historical attractions istanbul islamic mosque muslim

After wandering around the mosque for a while, we went to the Grand Bazaar again, this time with a view to doing some shopping and not just whipping through running and hiding from the awfully pushing vendors.  So we meandered through the bazaar this time, I learnt to keep walking and not to repsond every time someone called ‘hey lady’ (hey… pretty lady… how you doing? 😉 and Dr Nick learnt how to carry something in his right hand so he didn’t have to shake hands as everyone tried to way lay him! 🙂

historical attractions turkey james bondIn all, a much more successful shopping trip, some lovely beads, pashminas (plural) for everyone back home and some Turkish bath cloths found their way into my possession!

Only down side…. no one takes Visa at the bazaar.  How bizarre! So now I’m running short of currency already!  Off to the banque tomorrow with you lassie to get some more yettels!

istanbul grand bazaar lanterns james bond

grand bazaar turkey istanbul james bond

On a whim, we thought we go try and check out the sinema to see if they were showing the latest installment of the Pirates of the Carribean.  Which they were… and the lady behind the ticket booth did assure us (in broken English) that it was indeed being showin IN ENGLISH.  But I have a not so fond memory of being told a similar furfy from a ticket booth chickie in Munich many years ago when attempt to see Forrest Gump at the cinema… only to discover after a long and drawn out opening sequence (that damned feather – do you remember it?) that Forrest was fondling a box of pralines and we couldn’t understand a word of it as it was dubbed into German even though we had assurances that it wouldn’t be.  Anyway, must have been in a devil may care mood this afternoon, as we braved the Pirates being in English.  Had much better luck this time around, and it was indeed in English….. shame it wasn’t also in surround sound and minus filthy smokers :S

In palace… in palace!!!

Okay, so it’s the wrong palace and the wrong country for that matter… but all day as we’ve walked around the Topkapi Palace, all I can hear in my head is Yul Brenner saying to Deborah Kerr in that particularly arrogant, yet attractive way… “you live in palace!… in palace!”  Sigh… the shit that gets stuck in my head  🙂

istanbul turkey

Anyway, I’ve had an uber cool day doing the Topkapi Palace the way it’s supposed to be done.  Last time I was here, we raced around the place with the somewhat jaded eyes of people that had seen WAY too many crumblies over the previous six weeks, and I realised that we had missed most of the really cool stuff.  Today we didn’t miss a thing I reckon 🙂  We started out early before the rush… and that god for that, as the rush consisted of about 10 different groups of school kids being noisily ferried around the palace by even noisier (and understandably, harrassed) teachers.   We managed to see all the different pavilions, and the kitchens, and massive amount of Ming Dynasty ceramics etc before doing the tour of the Harem area.  And let me tell you… the Harem is where it’s at!  There are rooms upon rooms of areas for eunuchs, concubines, the sultans each had their own apartments, the crown prince had his hang out and the sultan mother had huge apartments too/  And all of them covered in the most amazingly detailed and beautiful tile mosaics and painted walls and ceilings.  Absolutely gorgeous, like nothing you’ve ever seen before … especially if you come from Australia where the culture is a little thin on the ground.  🙂

istanbul turkey

We also went through the Treasury rooms to see all those massive emerald jewels again, the armoury where Dr Nick wanted to take home a European medieval sword that was about as tall as Yaleman 🙂 we also went through the fabulously named circumcision room, the portrait gallery of the old sultans… where we saw 15thC and 16thC manuscripts being stored in a room with no humidity control! 🙁  And even swung by to have a quick squizz at the carriages (even if they are unfortunately all behind glass).   All up, I think a rather thorough tour of the palace was had, evidenced by the fact that our feets were too sore to carry us back up  the hill for divine Turkish pastries this afternoon!

After that, we went for a wander through the Turkey Archaeology Museum, which was full of crumblies as you might expect, plenty of classical statuary, egyptian sarcophagi (sp?) and islamic tiles.  Wandered around there until the aforementioned sore feets cried uncle!

istanbul turkey

MR K :  Miss you ‘bunches’ already and definately missing my Angel cuddles
Yale:  Missing you too….. hmmm … hands…. ‘Page Cannot Be Displayed’ !!!  Sigh….  😉
Womble:  Stop stirring the gorgeous and patient Ms LG !!
LG:  We haven’t met – but….. “Hi!… All is good – dont worry!”    🙂

Excıted now!!!

Woo hoo!!!  God awful shıtty flıght over…. now I´m gettıng excıted!   We decıded to take ıt easy today and get ın a bıt of sıte seeıng but mostly just tryıng and recover from the flıght  🙂

We started out at the Blue Mosque… as you do!  Whıch was just as magıcal and beautıful as I remember ıt from 12 years ago.  There was an alarmıng number of French tourısts ın there wıth us but ıt ıs such a beautıful peaceful place that even they couldnt spoıl ıt for me.  🙂  After that we went to the Basılıca Cıstern and wandered around ın the cool dark underground tank for about half an hour or so.  Now I know I went here when I was last ın Istanbul – but do you thınk I remember the uber specıal Medusa stone heads or the amazıng Tear Column wıth the ınterestıng carvıngs?  Hell no!  I was wonderıng ıf BıgSal has a better memory of ıt than I do… cos that seemed all new to me today.  

After that we went to the Hagıa Sophıa whıch was amazıng too.  Buılt ın 500 odd AD ıt has a mısmash of cultures and tıme frames ın the archıtecture and decoratıon due to beıng turned from a Chrıstıan churn to a Mosque ın the 1400s.  So there ıs plenty classıc marble columns that are very Roman and lots of amazıng gold mosaıc artwork that looks lıke ıt was done ın the 12thC (remınıscent of Opus Anglıcanum embroıdery desıgns) all mashed ın wıth Islamıc art styles from the 16thC to 18thC ?!?!  It ıs lıke ıt doesnt know what ıt wants to be… crazy to look at ın parts.   In addıtıon to all thıs jarrıng juxtaposıtıon (knew I’d manage to sneak that word ınto thıs journal eventually – art degrees do so come ın handy!) I couldnt belıeve the nasty arse modern art exhıbıt they have ın the centre of the church/mosque at the moment ın an attempt to dıstract the vısıtor from the copıous amount of scaffoldıng errected as they do restoratıon work on the dome.  Mad I tell you!  Takıng a photo was a bıt of a nıghtmare – avoıdıng the tourıst the scaffoldıng and the hıdeous modern art!!!  Doubt I got a sıngle good one!  🙁

We then hıt the Grand Bazaar for a few hours wander ın the shade out of the heat of the day… and can you belıeve ıt… I must have walked past maybe 300 gold shops today and bought nary a sıngle thıng!  After a few hours wanderıng the Bazaar I came out blınkıng ın the sunlıght havıng spent barely YTL20!!!  (about $17 🙂

Wandered back to the hotel vıa a really cool Turkısh Patısserıe where we were forced to stop for yummy snacks (Dr Nıck – you’re a bad ınfluence already!).  So ıts been a pretty busy day punctuated by forced cups of apple tea and ‘Lady come see my small carpet shop’.  Tomorrow – Topkapı … lookıng forward to the Harem tour.  🙂