Pics from Istanbul, Day 2 (2011 Trip)

September 4, 2011 – A Second Day in Istabul

I will get all my photos up before the year is up, I promise (Edited on 22 Jun 2012 to add: LIES!)!  Some may have seen all of these already when I gave the iPad Photo tour of them, but if you didn’t get tickets for that event, you can always check my photos at Picasa.  I’ve attached your very own viewer to these photos right within my own site – power to WordPress and Themify (and Shashin)!

Alright, so I’m updating this entry on June 22, 2012 – yes, nearly 9 months later.  I completely forgot that I hadn’t posted “officially” about our trip on my site.  And I do love a travelogue blog post.  Who doesn’t, right?   Anyway, so on our cruise, the Equinox was staying in Istanbul for TWO days, which was pretty much perfect as there is a LOT to see in Istanbul.  On the first day, it was action-packed and we visited Topkapi Palace, the Cistern, Spice Market, the Grand Bazaar, and the Bosphorous by boat.  Day 2’s excursion schedule was only a half day as we had to be back on the boat in the early afternoon as Equinox needed to get on its way to Ephesus.

Day 2 was the money shot of this two-day excursion.  There were a bajillion tour groups from the boat, so in order to prevent too much overcrowding, the attractions were staggered amongst the groups.  It just so happened that the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia were grouped together on our agenda for the second day.  So I admit that I’m not running around telling everyone I see that the Hagia Sophia is one of those places that I’ve always been enamored of from a distance.  Every picture of it shows it off as this just MASSIVE crazy-looking building with towers and awesomeness.  The Hagia Sophia being in Istanbul was pretty much the deciding factor in us taking this particular cruise over one that just hit up the western Mediterranean.  Ssssh….don’t tell Larry.  So yeah, I couldn’t wait to visit it.  A year or two ago, I’d also had the chance to read a wonderful book on architecture called ‘The Secret Lives of Buildings’ which discusses, in interesting and personal ways, the histories of famed architectural marvels, including of course the Hagia Sophia.  It has such an amazing and lengthy history.  It was built originally as a Catholic church, then after the fall of the Roman Empire, it became a mosque for over a millennium.  It recently was “decommissioned” as a mosque by Turkey and became solely a museum.  Aw….geez, I already went off on the Hagia Sophia, and that wasn’t even the first thing we visited!

ANYWAY, we joined back up with our wonderful female tour guide and headed first to the Blue Mosque.  That’s just a nice English way to refer to it, of course.  This is an active mosque still, so you have to respect the Muslim customs and remove your shoes and be properly covered up.  It’s an immense building that looks quite similar to the Hagia Sophia, but of course, it’s blue, both inside and out.  It also looks bigger than the Hagia Sophia, but that’s a trick of perspective as the builders wanted it to look that way, especially upon approach of the city from the water.  The inside of the Blue Mosque is stunning and can make you gasp at the artistry that went into its interior decorations.  You can see for yourself in the pictures below.

Blue Mosque

Outside the Blue Mosque
Outside the Blue Mosque04-Sep-2011 08:20, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
The Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque04-Sep-2011 08:22, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 250
The entrance into the mosque
The entrance into the mosque04-Sep-2011 08:23, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 160
 
The majestic interior of the massively hollow Blue Mosque
The majestic interior of the massively hollow Blue Mosque04-Sep-2011 08:26, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 250
It's quite decorative and immense
It's quite decorative and immense04-Sep-2011 08:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
Keep in mind that ceiling is WAY high up
Keep in mind that ceiling is WAY high up04-Sep-2011 08:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 640
 
Tried to get the layer of tracks right above your head
Tried to get the layer of tracks right above your head04-Sep-2011 08:46, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 640
The vivid red and blue carpet
The vivid red and blue carpet04-Sep-2011 08:46, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 1600
Trying to convey the sense of color that is found in the windows
Trying to convey the sense of color that is found in the windows04-Sep-2011 08:47, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.5, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 200
 
Notice how immense the columns are that hold up the main dome
Notice how immense the columns are that hold up the main dome04-Sep-2011 08:47, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 640
More pretty stained glass
More pretty stained glass04-Sep-2011 08:47, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 5.6, 17.513mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 800
04-Sep-2011 08:49, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 640
 
Outside the Blue Mosque, looking at a minaret
Outside the Blue Mosque, looking at a minaret04-Sep-2011 08:50, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
At Ramadan I believe, the string of lights between the minarets blazes
At Ramadan I believe, the string of lights between the minarets blazes04-Sep-2011 08:51, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
Larry and the Blue Mosque
Larry and the Blue Mosque04-Sep-2011 08:51, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 125
 

After leaving the Blue Mosque, we left through a gate that faced the Hagia Sophia directly, yet we weren’t headed there just yet.  But it did provide a chance to get some great perspective shots of it.  Instead, we turned to the Hippodrome, a relic from the Romans that has been somewhat preserved.  It used to be something like the Circus Maximus in Rome and would host chariot races.  It was immense in size, but didn’t last very long after the Romans fell.  Yet the Turks insisted on not wiping out their history completely, so pieces still remain intact and in their original location. Foremost is an obelisk from Luxor, which the Romans brought from Egypt.  It’s pretty cool to see Rome’s expanse and lingering elements from when this was Constantinople.

Shots along the Hippodrome

The German Fountain, given to Turkey in 1900
The German Fountain, given to Turkey in 190004-Sep-2011 09:03, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 4.5, 9.369mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
The Hippodrome, a relic from its Roman and Byzantian past
The Hippodrome, a relic from its Roman and Byzantian past04-Sep-2011 09:06, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
Not much remains of the Hippodrome except things like this Obelisk
Not much remains of the Hippodrome except things like this Obelisk04-Sep-2011 09:07, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 250
 
This Obelisk is originally from Luxor in Egypt, but brought here in 390 AD
This Obelisk is originally from Luxor in Egypt, but brought here in 390 AD04-Sep-2011 09:09, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
It's in amazing condition considering it's 3500 years old
It's in amazing condition considering it's 3500 years old04-Sep-2011 09:14, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
04-Sep-2011 09:14, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 3.2, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
 

Before the Hagia Sophia still (see how everything for me is all about whether it happens before or after the H.S.) we were treated to a Turkish Rug demonstration.  Of course this is a way for the cruise line to help out the local merchants…but this was a pretty cool experience.  We were led into a nice, comfortable, big room and we sat on the perimeter of it so that the main floor was wide open.  A huge stack of rolled-up rugs was in the corner. A very VERY charismatic man led us through the demo, but not before offering us Raki and some food.  A good salesman knows to make his potential customers comfortable…  Anyway, the rug demo was a massive show of all the various types of rugs that can be made and the various sizes and techniques inherent to the trade.   In the pictures below, you can see there were a lot on display, and the poor guys who had to schlep them around must get a great workout. The piece de resistance was saved for last though, as he brought out a rug we were allowed to touch – it was ridiculously soft and mesmerizing to look at.  It also cost $100K.  With that, the tour let us look around for a bit, but of course that was also the time that the salesmen pounce on you.  The demo guy actually came over to us and we didn’t actually intend to buy anything but these guys are good.  Plus, when we finally saw the one we ended up buying, and the deal we got…well, as I wrote about earlier here, it was an awesome memento.

Pics at a Turkish Rug Merchant

Ah, the rug store where we got a viewing of Turkish rugs and I spent 1500 dollars
Ah, the rug store where we got a viewing of Turkish rugs and I spent 1500 dollars04-Sep-2011 09:25, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
Our demonstration showman
Our demonstration showman04-Sep-2011 09:31, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 100
Notice all the rugs behind him folded up - most of those ended up unrolled for our viewing
Notice all the rugs behind him folded up - most of those ended up unrolled for our viewing04-Sep-2011 09:32, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 5.0, 12.056mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 800
 
The beginnings - there were about 35 of us all around watching
The beginnings - there were about 35 of us all around watching04-Sep-2011 09:37, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.5, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 125
I couldn't tell you what he told me now, but he showed us variations of wool, silk, and blends
I couldn't tell you what he told me now, but he showed us variations of wool, silk, and blends04-Sep-2011 09:37, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 125
04-Sep-2011 09:40, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.5, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100
 
04-Sep-2011 09:40, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.5, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100
04-Sep-2011 09:40, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.5, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100
Here he showed true workmanship by showing all the stitching underneath
Here he showed true workmanship by showing all the stitching underneath04-Sep-2011 09:43, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 125
 
We also got delicious food and drink while the show was on
We also got delicious food and drink while the show was on04-Sep-2011 09:46, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.5, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 400
04-Sep-2011 09:55, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 100
04-Sep-2011 09:55, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 100
 
04-Sep-2011 09:55, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 4.5, 9.592mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 250
I believe this pure silk rug is estimated to cost 100K
I believe this pure silk rug is estimated to cost 100K04-Sep-2011 09:57, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 4.5, 10.038mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 500
Yes, 100K - but it was beautiful
Yes, 100K - but it was beautiful04-Sep-2011 09:57, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 4.5, 10.038mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 400
 

After dropping a good chunk of change on a Turkish souvenir, it was finally time.  Yep, it was finally time to visit the Hagia Sophia!  I’ve written above how excited I was to see this place so let’s just cut to the chase.  The Blue Mosque was amazing, but the Hagia Sophia was fucking incredible.  It’s huge.  HUGE.  Once you actually get close to it, it’s ridiculous.  Then when you go inside and into the main room, your jaw drops.  There are immense discs with Arabic inscriptions of holy names situated around the room and amazing wall decorations.  You look up and you get blown away by how this could even be built.  Even more impressive is that it was done before precision, modern engineering came about.  Apparently there is an error in the rooftop circular opening, but you know what, I’ll cut the builders some slack.  We were given some time to explore, and explore we did.  There’s an upper level you can reach via a winding tunnel (no stairs) up and it provides you a fantastic perspective of the interior.  Even typing this up just gives me a nice sense of euphoria remembering how it felt to be there.  Such an incredible experience.

The Amazing Hagia Sophia

Finally on our way to the Hagia Sophia!
Finally on our way to the Hagia Sophia!04-Sep-2011 11:05, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 160
The Hagia Sophia, once a church, then a mosque, now a museum
The Hagia Sophia, once a church, then a mosque, now a museum04-Sep-2011 11:06, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
The light rail comes right up to you if you're not careful
The light rail comes right up to you if you're not careful04-Sep-2011 11:07, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 400
 
From the outside, you can see the Hagia Sophia is immense
From the outside, you can see the Hagia Sophia is immense04-Sep-2011 11:11, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 3.2, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 320
And has lots of architectural elements to it
And has lots of architectural elements to it04-Sep-2011 11:15, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 400
The immense entrance leading into the main room
The immense entrance leading into the main room04-Sep-2011 11:16, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320
 
A blurry but indicative shot of what's to come
A blurry but indicative shot of what's to come04-Sep-2011 11:16, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 500
The Imperial Gate is huge
The Imperial Gate is huge04-Sep-2011 11:22, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 400
Inside, looking straight up at the top of the dome
Inside, looking straight up at the top of the dome04-Sep-2011 11:24, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 500
 
It's old hence the signs of decay - doesn't diminish its impressiveness
It's old hence the signs of decay - doesn't diminish its impressiveness04-Sep-2011 11:31, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 250
04-Sep-2011 11:32, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 200
The lighting fixtures remind me of Grand Central Terminal in NYC
The lighting fixtures remind me of Grand Central Terminal in NYC04-Sep-2011 11:33, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 250
 
The fish are rumored to be the way Christians showed their faith
The fish are rumored to be the way Christians showed their faith04-Sep-2011 11:36, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 640
04-Sep-2011 11:38, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
A mosaic of the Holy Trinity dating from the 9th century
A mosaic of the Holy Trinity dating from the 9th century04-Sep-2011 11:40, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.0, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 400
 

After that, it really was time to go.  We got dropped off back at the Equinox and under a crystal blue sky and perfect temperatures, we steamed away while having a stunning vista of the city of Istanbul.  It was a wonderful visit – all too brief, even at two days – and one I’ll never forget.  I also have the hundreds of pictures I took there…. 🙂

Leaving Istanbul

Some last shots of Istanbul before boarding the ship
Some last shots of Istanbul before boarding the ship04-Sep-2011 12:20, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
04-Sep-2011 12:20, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
Pics from the Equinox on its way south and out of Istanbul
Pics from the Equinox on its way south and out of Istanbul04-Sep-2011 13:17, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
 
Hagia Sophia on the left, Blue Mosque behind on the right
Hagia Sophia on the left, Blue Mosque behind on the right04-Sep-2011 13:17, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 5.0, 12.957mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
Looking south on the Bosphorous towards the Sea of Marmara
Looking south on the Bosphorous towards the Sea of Marmara04-Sep-2011 13:18, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.955mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
The Asian side of Istanbul
The Asian side of Istanbul04-Sep-2011 13:18, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 4.5, 10.262mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 125
 
Our grassy deck and Istanbul in the background
Our grassy deck and Istanbul in the background04-Sep-2011 13:19, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 3.5, 7.594mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
04-Sep-2011 13:19, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
04-Sep-2011 13:23, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
 
Laurence striking a pose
Laurence striking a pose04-Sep-2011 13:25, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
Me and my hat
Me and my hat04-Sep-2011 13:25, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 160
04-Sep-2011 14:14, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 160
 
04-Sep-2011 14:18, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 2.8, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 160
Looking back at the Bosphorous and the Bosphorous Bridge
Looking back at the Bosphorous and the Bosphorous Bridge04-Sep-2011 14:19, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 5.0, 12.281001mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
The Hagia Sophia in the center, Blue Mosque on the left
The Hagia Sophia in the center, Blue Mosque on the left04-Sep-2011 14:22, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, 5.0, 14.316mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 125
 

2011 Mediterranean Trip Pics Index

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