…Before getting started on the awesome yesterday…I want to explain what happened with Tom and my missing each other on Wednesday. Unbeknownst to me (and I think to Tom, as well), there is more than one dock on both sides of the bay (Asian and European) and I waited on one of those, while Tom waited on another. We missed each other, and both feel sad about that.
Awesome Yesterday! Scroll down after you read this for more photos
Okay, was it the people on the tour that made it a great day? Or was it the sites we saw? You decide.
Let’s first start with the people: the celebrity – Shay Murphy, a professional woman basketball player, who, right now is playing in Turkey for the Chicago Sky WNBA. Then her cute, little brother, who is not little. George lives in LA and works for a company that sells paint. It’s a paint that you cannot paint over it, and sounds like something great for graffiti areas.
Two lovely ladies from Maryland, Lisa and Patty, who were interested in everything, and had great humor all along the way. They were a joy to be around.
Then there was the bachelor, Ed from Utah. He got lost from us once and we accused him of searching for his fifth wife.
Our guide, Tibet Elmalik is a walking encyclopedia. She gave us details on all the interesting sites, and in such a dynamic way, you had to hang onto her words. She also was a great help to me, for she lives on the Asian side, where I am staying in a Hotel. A gentleman from the hotel walked with me to the ferry where I met Tibet. I was in good hands with her to the beginning point where we all met to begin the tour.
Our tour was spent in the oldest part of Istanbul. Istanbul, formerly called Constantinople, is populated by over 13 million people, and is considered 8,000 years old. In 1985 UNESCO named it a World Heritage site.
We began the tour in a large quadrant that was once the Hippodrome, but no longer exists. The space is next to the Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, and is the center of Roman and Byzantine Constantinople time. Still standing are many obelisks and sculptures that remain since the fourth century.
I will share the treasures that most overpowered me, beginning with the Blue Mosque, where we had to remove our shoes. It is called blue from the use of thousands of tiles made in blue designs. The color, turquoise (which was first discovered in Turkey), is also predominate color. Blue was considered to be the favorite color of Islamic Prophet Mohammed.
It is breath taking inside with high dome ceilings, and chandeliers of lights. Tibet explained that one group of lights hang closer to the floor because they were originally oil lamps and were easier to light at a lower range, near the place where men knelt to pray.
I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the ceiling in wonder of the workmanship created by men in the 1600s.
Hagia Sophia – A Byzantine architecture, thought to have been built in the year 346 AD. It was the seat of the Orthodox church, and then became a Roman Catholic cathedral and later a Mosque. It was partially destroyed by conflicts, earthquakes and old age, and through the years it was rebuilt, restructured and is now a free museum for all. What I found interesting in this age, is that the building faces the proper way for Islamic prayers, with an additional prayer area for Christians, all made available for the employees of the museum.
Basilica Cistern – It is an underground chamber, about 105 ,000 sq. ft that holds 80,000 cubic meters of water. Marble columns sit stone faced inside the water that gives life to fish. Inside, after we walked down a stone staircase, we were free to walk along side the water on wooden platforms. It’s mysterious, quiet, except for the echoes of people. Built in the third and forth centuries during the Early Roman Age was reconstructed after a fire in 476. In our modern age, around the 1980’s mud was removed and the site was cleaned for public access. I found this most amazing, and was told it took thousands of people to build it.
There was just so much to see and learn, that I will need to study more to remember all Tibet told us. I managed to take in the atmosphere and intelligence of the ancient world.
We had a typical Turkish lunch and I finally had real Turkish coffee that I loved.
During our tour, Shay and George had to leave: George to get ready to catch a plane back to LA, and Shay to rest up for a game. Read about Shay on Wikipedia or an many Internet sites. They were fun to be part of our group. Wish they could have stayed with us until the end.
Later were transported to visit Nakkas, where we learned about oriental rugs. Here’s the website: www.nakkasrug.com. Mahmut Kaya presented how Turkish rugs are made using a looping of threads that permanently seal the rugs tightly for long lasting wear.
They were gorgeous in a variety of colors. I swooned over them, wishing I had a floor to put one down. There were men who whooped up a rug and gently laid it down at our feet. Patty did her best at getting a price she wanted for one large rug and a runner.
The men folded up her rugs, tied them up in brown paper and put them into a bag that she could carry home on the plane.
Ed has lived in Turkey as a military man, and has several rugs in his Utah home.
The next visit was inside the Grand Bazaar – the largest and oldest in the world. There were kiosks of gold and silver jewelry, cashmere and silk scarves, porcelain, leather, and hanging colorful lights, and on and on. A man carried small glasses of tea on a tray, shoppers walked and bargained, barkers barked their wares, and I just took it all in.
I saw lots of items I would want to take back home for myself, friends and family. However, I resisted and conformed to my original vow not to purchase souvenirs on this journey. My souvenirs will be memories, photos, and stories, and of course – the people I meet along the way. Tibet, Patty, Lisa, Ed, Shay, George – thanks for making it such a fun day. You are the best!
Continue to next page for more photos of the Awesome day.