Saturday, February 13, 2016

More of Constantinople

TODAY'S PHOTO ALBUM: Istanbul - Day 3

It was raining last night when we ventured out. We took a short walk around the corner to a lively outdoor cafe area. Even though it was chilly and rainy, you can still enjoy sidewalk eating - they all have these huge heaters that make it very comfortable - maybe even a little too hot.  A traditional Turkish dish, Testi Kebabi, is a clay pot containing your choice of meats and cooked on an open fire - the waiter then proceeds to smash the pot with a stick when the food is done. It is quite a show. Even though we didn't order this dish, we were treated to the free entertainment.

Next was the Turkish bath...aahhhhh.  This consists of a sauna for 15 minutes to rid the toxins. Meme our masseuse, came in every now and then and poured water on us to revive us. From the sauna you move into the bathing room (hamam). This has several floor sinks with faucets of either hot or cold water. You are laid out on a slab of marble and the masseuse scrubs your entire body with an exfoliating glove. More buckets of water - first hot then cold. Lay down again - here comes the foam massage. The foam is produced from a cheesecloth-like bag that is dipped in a soapy solution. Meme blows air into the bag and squeezes out the bubbles all over your body. Once you are fully covered, the massage starts - more aaahhhhh.  A hot - cold rinse and then your scalp gets a treatment. It ends with a big bucket of cold water and a high five!  You are then escorted to a chaise lounge by the pool to enjoy a glass of tea and relax. While we were relaxing, Meme came over and put on a special deep heating cream on my shoulders and neck. I guess he felt all that tension from the contortion positions of sleeping on the plane. I booked a full body deep tissue massage for tonight.

Took our time getting up made it out the door by about 10:30 -- first stop walk up the big hill through
Sultanahmet Square to the Blue Mosque. Totally awe inspiring.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque or Sultan Ahmet Mosque (TurkishSultan Ahmet Camii) is a historic mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior.
It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is still popularly used as a mosque.
Things were going just a little too good, so naturally it was time for an accident.  Wham! Leaving the Mosque, I walked right into a metal structure (more like a torture device) and toppled over. Sliced up my right leg in three places, and landed on one of the poles right on the groin. Ouch! Well this created quite the international scene. A very nice man (who happened to own a local shop) came to help, as well as the police. Eventually an ambulance showed up and 2 lovely EMT ladies patched me up. Fortunately, no clothes were ruined - miraculously.

Once we got the bleeding under control, we were led by the nice man to his shop to sit down for a drink and relax. The shop turned into a carpet store owned by his cousin, Hassan . We were generously offered a cup of Turkish coffee (our first) and had a pleasant chat until the sales pitch. As politely as we could, we managed to escape with all our money in tact and head out to the Basilica Cistern. On the way, we ran into another "really helpful" young man. We got a lot of information about what to do for tomorrow but when he tried to sell us his trinkets, we parted ways. Not going to talk to anyone for a while.

Made it to the Cistern of 1001 columns including two Medusa heads and the Hen's eye columns:
The name of this subterranean structure derives from a large public square on the First Hill of Constantinople, the Stoa Basilica, beneath which it was originally constructed. Before being converted to a cistern, a great Basilica stood in its place, built between the 3rd and 4th centuries during the Early Roman Age as a commercial, legal and artistic centre. The basilica was reconstructed by Illusafter a fire in 476.
Ancient texts indicated that the basilica contained gardens, surrounded by a colonnade and facing the Hagia Sophia. According to ancient historians, Emperor Constantine built a structure that was later rebuilt and enlarged by Emperor Justinian after the Nika riotsof 532, which devastated the city.
Historical texts claim that 7,000 slaves were involved in the construction of the cistern.
The enlarged cistern provided a water filtration system for the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings on the First Hill, and continued to provide water to the Topkapi Palace after the Ottoman conquest in 1453 and into modern times.
Exited the cistern and walked up the street to the Grand Bazaar - and Grand it is!

It is huge and it g goes in all direction with people everywhere.  I can't image what this place would look like in tourist season. It is the largest and oldest covered market in the world - 61 covered streets with over 3,000 shops. We walked through the maze for a while, tasting Turkish delights and gawking at everything. Found our way out and headed back to the hotel stopping for a quick bite.

As soon as we got to the hotel, I asked for a bucket of ice, then quickly got upstairs to assess the damage. Lots of bruising but minimal blood. Sent Geoff across the street to the pharmacy to see if they had arnica - success!  Should be good as new in no time.  Canceled the massage for tonight - hoping I feel a little less sore tomorrow. Not sure about dinner tonight.

Next time... Sea Cruise

TODAY'S PHOTO ALBUM: Istanbul - Day 3

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