Saturday, January 31, 2009


Hey everyone, here I am in Istanbul... my friend Molly joined me the day before yesterday and we've been seeing all there is to see in town. There are too many beautiful, historic buildings here. Above is the Blue Mosque, so named for the tiles inside. It's a pretty impressive building- it has 6 minarets which at one point rivaled the mosque at Mecca. It's a functioning mosque so although tourists are allowed to go inside and take pictures, you need to take your shoes off and be respectful if you are in there during prayer time.

This was one of my favorite things we saw- the Underground Cistern. It is about one foot deep with fishes swimming around there and everything! It's a little creepy, but really beautiful. Strangely, it doesn't smell bad under there at all. The pillars all have different textures and as you can see, it is lit really nicely.

Here's a pillar with an upside-down Medusa head. There is another one, with the head turned on it's side. It is a mystery why they are upside down and sideways. I'm not clear on why the Medusa heads are down in the cistern.

After Molly and I ate lunch yesterday, we saw this dog sitting in the square, singing along to 3:00 prayers! It was really cute.

Here's another photo of the Blue Mosque.

Here's Molly petting one of the many feral cats around Istanbul.
Yesterday we visited a hammam (Turkish bath) and it was the best thing ever. The bathhouse is hundreds of years old and made of solid marble. The faucets were very old and it was really neat to be in there. Of course I don't have any pictures because taking pictures in a bathhouse is creepy. You will have to trust me when I tell you it was great and if you ever get the chance to come to Turkey, you have to try it.
Today we briefly visited the Asian side of Istanbul via the ferry boat. It was way too freezing cold today though, so we had to get back home to get warm again. What little we saw was interesting; it looked like everyday life. Very different from the touristy place that we're staying, where everyone comes out of their rug shop to bother you as you try to walk down the street.
Tomorrow we are taking a tour of the Bosphorous Strait. It should be pretty- hopefully not too cold.
Istanbul is really nice, and very large. It seems like a nice place to stay for awhile, longer than my short 6 days, to explore. It's pretty hilly which reminds me of San Francisco.
I leave for India in two days and I am not feeling ready at all. I think I might be a little homesick and maybe even nervous about the craziness of India. I have heard a lot of stories about how it's "nuts" over there, and in the past I always scoffed and thought "No problem!"... but now I'm having cold feet. Ready or not, here I go! I will take pictures of the madness and everyone can live vicariously through me and my visit to India. Wish me luck...


Darcy said...

luck granted!!!just stay open to what there is to see and learn there and treat yourself gently and you'll be fine. and breathe, don't forget to do that!

Rocio said...

wow! That looks awesome. Great pics, lleni. i want to go to turkey! i like the medusa head...i find it quite fascinating. that's a cute pic of the dog... is that "scratchy?"

Cities I've Visited