Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Byzantium 2014

For 50 years I yearned to visit Istanbul to immerse myself in its magnificence, richness, mystery, perfume, cadence, artistry and cuisine.  I attribute my fascination with Constantinople --Byzantium -- Istanbul, to my ancestors who were Byzantine Catholic, and to St. Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church I attended as a child, a bewitching place of exotic mosaic art, mysterious icons, and aromatic incense.  And to my college professor whose heavy regimen of Medieval Europe / Christian history was a delight.  I couldn't get enough.

Last January we made the trip in two parts as the bookends to our  UAE trip.  Our lodging was an old house in Sultanhamet that had been converted into a small hotel.  It was perfectly located for most of the sight-seeing we planned to do.  We were able to walk or ride the streetcar everywhere, except that our visit to more-distant Chora Church required a taxi.

From the airport we took the train into the city.  Most of the passengers were men, and a number were friendly and helpful.  One of them taught us Turkish phrases during the trip.  We got off the train in the dark and the three of us set off toward our hotel towing our rolling suitcases down-down-down the hilly cobblestone streets, and oh, what a racket we made.  The clackity-clack of the plastic wheels echoed off the buildings that hugged the streets.  Our footing was precarious not being used to knobby cobblestones, and we knew from previous travel experience to expect loose and missing stones, holes in the sidewalks and streets, and even random debris waiting to trip us up.

We saw the most wonderful churches, mosques, and museums.  We cruised the Bosphorus on a tour boat and were lucky to sit next to an American who had lived in Istanbul for decades, who pointed out lots of interesting sites and told fascinating stories that we wouldn't have otherwise learned.

Istanbul is a city of deep and ancient beauty.   This post, today, is only an outline of our trip with some street scenes.  In other posts I will cover Hagia Sophia and Chora Church.

jet lag

our granddaughter in our hotel

our Istanbul hotel

we had delicious lentil soup at this restaurant near our hotel, at least 3 times

we aren't ones to spend a lot of time in restaurants when we travel, and we're always able to find some kind of "street snack" to tide us over; in Istanbul it was this circular bread called simit which is cheap, delicious and filling

Istanbul's historic Grand Bazaar

craggy cobblestone streets

a city scene on the Galata bridge with Galata Tower in the distance

carpet weaver at work

the candy man

fishing boats and tankers on the Bosphorus

6th century Basilica Cistern is capable of holding an ocean of fresh water

he is very representative of what a Turkish man looks like

a forest of gravestones outside a mosque

Istanbul's city wall

1 comment:

  1. You're making me regret that Air Arabia had airfare for all five of us to Istanbul for 3100dhs over National Day weekend and we didn't jump at the chance! I've been there twice but it's not enough. Beautiful pictures.