Istanbul: The Return

If you missed them the first time around you can still look at the full set of nearly 400 Istanbul photos – all the dross has been removed.

Istanbul is the kind of city you could spend months exploring but we had to content ourselves with a little over a week in four separate visits.  After Eastern Turkey Istanbul felt beautifully warm and sunny. The tulips had bloomed while we were away and added a splash of colour as we explored the Topkapi Palace, the seat of Ottoman power where the sultans stored their harem in exquisitely decorated surroundings on a hill overlooking the Bosphorus and Golden Horn.  The palace now houses numerous treasures given to the sultanate by royal families in Europe and Iran in an obscene pissing contest for the most elaborately expensive objects you could imagine. There was also one of the world’s largest diamonds, called the ‘Two Spoons Diamond’ because it was found in a rubbish dump by a beggar who exchanged it for two spoons. There was also a room dedicated to the Islamic Prophet which included various texts and items from his life, including miniscule pieces of his beard. The opulence of the palace was stunning. Once the Turkish Republic was founded, the sultanate were kicked out by Ataturk and spent their exile in Paris.

Sarah spent the morning by herself as I was felled by a dodgy kebab.  It had to happen at some point I guess and at least this bout of food poisoning was a lot more mild than in Cuba, but it still left me as weak as a puppy. While I recovered in the excellent pension in Sultanahmet with fresh pide and views of the Blue Mosque from our window, Sarah visited the Istanbul Gallery of Modern Art, had a fresh fish sandwich at Eminonu underneath the Galata Bridge, and took a turn up the Bosphorus in a ferry.

I arose from my sick bed the following day to take a quick look at the Basilica Cistern, an underground water storage area that is more grand than its name suggests.  The cistern is a huge stone tank that was used as a water collection area in Byzantine times.  It has ludicrously ornate columns given that they are underground and for most of their life underwater.  The cistern also has a couple of carved Medusa heads, as you do.  These heads are often carved into sarcophagi to ward of evil spirits, turning them to stone.

And before we knew it, the tour to Gallipoli was about to start.

If you missed them the first time around you can still look at the full set of nearly 400 Istanbul photos – all the dross has been removed.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>