Monday, July 20, 2015

Istanbul, Part 3: The Last Turkey Day

Last Turkey day started with Sam abandoning us to go back home to get back to work or whatever it is that all the kids are doing these days.  

It also coincidentally happened to be the last day of Ramadan, which meant it was a national holiday and there were stampedes of people left and right (it also meant that a lot of the religious sites were closed).  

Sunset on the Bosphorus

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • You know what wasn't closed?!? The super-sweet Basilica Cistern, an ancient water cistern that lies under the streets of Istanbul.  You guys. This cistern dates back to the 6th century, is supported by 336 marble columns, and could hold 80,000 cubic meters of water (I seriously have no idea how much that is, but seeing the size of the thing, it must be a TON).  It piped in water from 12 miles away to supply to the city, and is a huge behemoth of an achievement due to its vast size and engineering.     
The creepy underground-ness of the cistern.  It's cool because they took some of the columns from other temples and locations, so they all have different carvings at the top
And now the cistern (which is obvi holding a ton less water than it used to, as it's now basically filled with rainwater that drips through) is home to a ton of creepy ghost fish
A weird part of the cistern is that two of the columns are supported by Medusa heads that have clearly come from somewhere else. One head is sideways, the other is upside down. WAS THIS INTENTIONAL? DOES IT MEAN SOMETHING? WAS IT SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY WERE THE RIGHT SIZE??  Nobody knows. Mysteries of the Cistern, y'all.
Medusa head #2
  •  Visited the Chora Church (Kariya Müzesi), a former Byzantine church from the 10th century (which was later converted to a mosque, #typicalstory) out in the 'burbs known for its insane mosaic work, a ton of which is still in great shape today. 
This is Jesus in mosaic

There was an entire wing of the church that detailed the Virgin Mary's entire life in mosaic
And then there was an entire wing detailing Jesus' entire life in mosaic. IT WAS CRAY.
This is really just to show you that I was there and was not stealing photos of these sites off the internet
  • Then we headed back to Istiklal Street for drinks and dinner
The tram on Istiklal was jammed with hoodrats hanging on the back and not paying the fare
Having a head-sized beer in the most adorable side street off Istiklal called the Flower Passage
This is the Galata Tower, where you can apparently see an incredible view from Istanbul, a fact we can't verify because they closed a minute before we arrived
Walking the Galata Bridge at sunset
Sunset pano
This is the Aya Sofya at night. My advanced Arabic skills (or Google) deciphers this as a Muslim greeting used in celebration of Ramadan. 
Turkey has truly been such an incredibly diverse, amazing, surprise-filled leg of the trip and I had the best time here!  Again, am very sad to be leaving (especially because there are so many more cities I want to see!!)  Turkey has so, so much to offer, and I can't speak highly enough of all the great people we've met.

Bye, Turkey!  Bye, Istanbul!

On a side note, Rick Steves needs to hire me as his personal promoter/hype man

Next stop: Israel!


  1. 80,000 cubic meters of water is way more than a TON (even with all caps). It's almost 85K tons. Sorry - couldn't help myself.

    1. Thanks, Brian - now my statistic is even more impressive! =) I have to admit, I feel totally uncouth when people here give directions and are like "It's 300 meters ahead" or "It's going to hit 30 degrees today" and I have zero idea how close the distance is or how hot it's gonna be. WORKING ON IT