Saturday, October 24, 2009

Turkey - now with 100% more Dan!

Friday was a happy day for me. Sure, I saw Istanbul's most famous site - the Aya Sofya (or Haghia Sophia) but after a long month apart I finally met up with Dan (it was a joyful airport reunion straight out of a movie :P).

The Aya Sofya was a church built by the Emperor Justinian during the Roman rule until Mehmet the Conqueror came along and converted it into a mosque.

Today it is a museum (as declared by Ataturk in the 30s?) bearing the gorgeous Christian-themed mosaics of a church and the dome and minarets of a mosque. The best views of this impressive structures are from the upper galleries from where we could better appreciate the beautiful works of art and remarkable detail (every single column and pillar is carved with Justinian's own emblem.

Afterward we headed across the street to admire the Blue Mosque - Sultan Ahmet's answer to the Aya Sofya. It is quite splendid in its own right: not as large but impressively designed with a large marble courtyard and a beautiful garden.

At around 12:30, I hopped on the tram and the metro to pick up Dan at the airport and successfully stuffed him onto the tram without knocking over too many old ladies for the trip back to Sultanahmet.

The Turks are just as amused by our comical size diference as anyone back home. Mainly they'll smirk as they pass by but a bolder gentleman asked if he was my bodyguard. Children seem particularly mesmerized by the size of him - he towers over most people here like a mythical beast.

We explored the city for the rest of the evening (I took Dan to the Grand Bazaar and all around Sultanahmet) until rush hour descended upon us and the city became a mess of congestion and cigarette smoke. We left the neighbourhood and found an elusive market where we stocked up on fruit, bread, and water for a mere 7 lira. To avoid the craziness I steered us toward the Sea of Marmara and we headed back to Sultanahmet by walking along the coast.

Today we visited Topkapı Palace to marvel at the Sultan's treasures and decadent lifestyle before the fall of the empire. Tonight we are taking the overnight bus to Göreme and hope to find an open campsite to serve as our base while we explore the area and do some hiking. I am especially psyched to see the fairy chimneys and maybe take a hot air balloon ride over the lunar landscapes of Cappadocia. The tourist season outside of the big cities is over but I am hopeful that some places in Central Anatolia are still in the process of winding down.


  1. Dan's never going to live down the mythical beast description.

    I'm vicariously excited after reading this blog! Good writing! It sounds like you're packing in as much you can into the time that you got. I know for a fact that's exactly how Dan likes to roll. Keep it up.

  2. Napolleon said that if the world were a single state then its capital would be Istanbul.