Thursday, April 30, 2009

Istanbul - Day 2

Up bright and early. Lots to see. After breakfast of yogurt, apples, cheese, bread and tea we head off to the Basilica Cistern. This amazing structure was built to supply water to the palaces and was lost for quite a while. It is eerie and beautiful, dimly lit with amber light. Fish still live in the clear water. In one corner, you can still see the head of Medusa, a piece of stone taken from a ruined temple, used as a base for a support pillar.

Note: This isn't my picture

We then hit the bazaar again, this time I found the book dealers street. Awesome. I'll be back there soon. Oddly, books are the only thing that aren't haggled over, and they can be pricy.Taking a few twists we found a street where metal workers turned out some amazing antique reproductions. I even perused a few flintlocks. Sooo tempting. But we plan on holding off on major buying until the end of the trip. Other wise we'd be hauling all our swag around for two weeks. But still... soo shiny...

Back to the Tulip for a nap. Walking this much takes it out of you. Dinner at a rooftop restaurant with an amazing view of the Haiga Sophia and the Blue Mosque. We ate as the sun sank slowly in the West and the Muezzin called the faithful to prayer.

Istanbul is quite the Metropolitan place. It is the meeting of East and West. However I did not expect "West" to mean the American West. As we walked through the park that sits atop the ancient Hippodrome today we saw a group of Native Americans performing a tribal/new age dance/concert. Really, this was THE last thing I ever expected to see in the heart of Turkey. It was a bit surreal.

After dinner I chatted with Mehmet, the young hotel manager and his friend. We showed pictures of our respective homes. Mehmets friend is Kurdish (an oppresed minority in Turkey) and his fathers home is also underground though a bit more rugged. The surrounding mountainside however is breathtaking. A polish traveller joined us and were learned of Turkeys great sporting tradition of male oil wrestling. No, it's not what you think. Look it up.

Tomorrow we move across the Bosphorus to our new hotel and will meet up with our fellow travellers in the evening. Not sure what we'll get up to in the day. This city, for all its size, is oddly relaxing. It is clean and actually smells very nice. (The Old City areas in Morroco can best be descibed as smelling "Biblical"). Here you can smell the sea, fresh bread, roasting meat and flowers in the park.

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