Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 2: Istanbul

Another day In Istanbul. These are the places we visited: Topaki Palace, Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia.
The weather for today was overcast with a little rain, until later in the day when it turned sunny. This busy day started with breakfast at the hotel, after which we proceeded to load the bus and go into the old city of Istanbul and see the Topkapi palace. This was a beautiful place where we could see the Bosporus Bridge that splits the Asian side from the European side of Turkey. We observed and learned about the architecture of the buildings. The Ottoman architecture and art was more floral while the Byzantine one was more arched and plain. First we saw the kitchen chimneys and the Tower of Justice. Then we saw a garden of tulips that were this vibrant red orange color mixed with yellow spikey ones.  There were courtyards with an artillery room as well as  rooms that displayed many jewels including lots of Rubies and Emeralds, as well as an 86 carat diamond! They were so pretty and amazing.

Tower of Justice

The group listening to Selcuk talk about the jewels! So fascinating!

Pretty Gardens! Tulips were everywhere!
Some of the group posing and trying to keep out of the rain.

A large tree which we could all get into.
Dish Painting

The Basilica Cistern is an ancient cistern for the collection of rain water. During the Byzantine period this water supplied the palace. When looking down into the water, we noticed some fish swimming around. I am thinking they were carp. I am not sure but some were pretty good size.  This is also the place with a Medusa face and hands used as a base for the columns. These columns are thought to bring good luck.

We had lunch in the market. There were three types of eating styles for restaurants.  There was sit down and get served, one that was more like a pizzeria style, you order meatballs and then wait 2 minutes and you get it to sit down. The last style was cafeteria style, you see the food, choose what you want and then pay.  After lunch we decided to walk around to the shops that were nearby.  There were a couple of nice guys that stopped us along the way and were asking if Carrie wanted to marry this guy named Ramadan for the price of two chickens.  This was quite a funny time.  There is a picture of her holding a napkin rose that he made for her, it was very cute.
Carrie with her napkin rose! <3

The Ancient Hippodrome was the next place we visited. This was an old horse race track that was used back in late Roman 3rd Century.  There were three statues, two of which were obelisks and the third was a green statue made up of three snakes that were intertwined. Their heads were cut off and they had previously been holding a golden pot. 

Then we went to Blue Mosque. This place was not blue outside however, the inside had beautiful blue tiles. All of the ladies had to where scarves to cover up. Also no shoes were allowed on the carpets. The males and the females do not pray in the same areas in these mosques. The men were in the center of the room, where as the females were behind  the railings on the outskirts of the room. There are 6 minarets because that is how many the mosque in Mecca had.
When leaving we saw a child that was dressed in complete white, and it was like he was being showed off. We found out he was walking to the building and going to get circumcised.

The girls with the scarfs!

Blue Mosque

The Hagia Sophia was the last thing we saw for the day. Originally constructed by Justinian, it used to be a church, however today it is a mosque. This was under construction as you can see in some of the pictures, but that does not hinder the beauty that was shown. The Urn was made of marble. Many of the pillars were crooked from earthquakes that have struck Istanbul in the past.

Hagia Sophia

 This means Allah or God.  
The leaning pillars
Mosaics were covered up with plaster. 

Marble Urn

Make a wish!! Sticks her thumb in and makes a complete circle.. while wishing for something good.

The group went out for dinner, what a fun night!
We also danced the Macarena here, and are now Facebook friends with the waiter.

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