So, I’ve been silent for a week, mostly because I have been busy seeing sights and sleeping off cheap alcohol, but also because I’ve found it hard to write about Istanbul. This isn’t because I didn’t like it – I loved it (mostly), but because it was very beautiful and I’m not sure my writing skills when talking about beautiful things will extend to much beyond ‘Ooh, look at this pretty thing! Now look at this pretty thing too!’. I will give it a go anyway, lest people start thinking I’ve died (or something slightly less dramatic like smashing my computer).
We had 2 free days in Istanbul, which is nowhere near enough time and I exhausted myself trying to tick off as many sights as possible (foolish Hannah), so I’d very much like to come back sometime and do it more slowly – and possibly at a less soul-meltingly hot time of year.
I also have about 200 pictures of tiles, mosaics and frescoes – I may have gone a tiny bit overboard. Don’t worry, I will not attempt to post them all, I have had my fill of them for a good week at least.
So we started off Istanbul with the Ayasofya (Hagia Sofia, or as I just tried to type Haggis Sofia which would probably not be as picturesque), which was originally built as a Christian church*, then converted to a mosque, and is now a museum. Amazingly, and I do not know why, probably because we did not pay for the audio tour, when it was converted the Muslims didn’t remove any of the Christian artwork so you get both cultures sitting right next to each other on the same wall.
This is not the best picture in the world, but I thought it was interesting – the curved wall was built in the original Christian church, but then the golden niche (called a mihrab) was added to the mosque, so the reason it isn’t central is because it has to face Mecca.
After the Ayasofya we visitied the Basilica Cistern – very dark, very atmospheric, very tricky to someone who has not yet mastered the manual settings on her rubbish camera.
Hmm. Not spectacular. Must work on that.
After the Basilica we wrapped our heads in sarongs for a quick visit to the Blue Mosque, which to be honest is more red than blue inside
Top tip for day one: Street food is fun, but if you buy something sticky on a hot and slightly breezy day, be aware that it will inevitably end up in your hair. This is called macun, and I’m not sure what it is but it kind of tastes like melted gummy bears – probably not for everyone, but then I’m developing a reputation for a sweet tooth on this trip!
On the second day we went to Topkapi Palace which was…pretty. Ooh, look at this pretty thing:
Rounded the day off with whirling dervishes and nargile pipes (I partook briefly,and someone has a photo of me coughing my guts up because I was never in the cool crowd at school so I never smoked a cigarette. Oh there goes all my carefully crafted awesomeness), before spending 6 hours of the next morning/afternoon sweltering at the Iranian embassy – plenty more of that fun to come on this trip!
More of Turkey to come :)
*No, I do not have dates, I’m writing this without wifi and frankly whenever I see dates on any explanatory signs my brain starts making exaggerated snoring noises and steering me towards the pretty pretty walls instead.