And finally…Istanbul!

You know how sometimes you’ve got this one place, this one city, that you’ve always dreamt of seeing, one fine day.

Timbuktu has a kind of proverbial allure, if you haven’t seen Paris your boyfriend really should stump up – but Istanbul.. Constantinople..Byzantium.. – that’s my Jerusalem.  And as it happens, that’s the last place I’ll be writing about before me and Ms M head out again to see if the rest of the world’s still there!

SANY0500

SANY0493

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My hotel’s in the old city, where old men wheel barrows full of fresh bread and olives down the narrow every-which-way streets.  The houses and shops look like they’ve been built by kids out of scrap and might topple over each other at any minute.  They don’t (not today anyway).

SANY0555

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Getting lost is easy but luckily there are lots of Turkish waiters eager to point the way – they’re the most helpful of people.  You can see they HOPE you’ll order lunch – but even if you don’t they mill sweetly about consulting their iphones and recalling long lost relatives in Sydney.

SANY0446

SANY0471

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Bosporus is a short stroll away, dividing the Occident from the Orient.  Today it’s blue and choppy.  I think about the darkly delicious Lord Byron swimming across it, possibly in a wet tee-shirt – it looks doable.  People actually do swim in it – I see one deeply tanned Turkish gorilla (yum!) hauling himself out.  Another guy is feeding fish scraps to cats and kittens.  There are lots of strays here.

SANY0511

SANY0516

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

SANY0506

If Selcuk was noisy, Istanbul is deafening.  A train runs past my window on the half hour, and of course there’s the call to prayer – again – howled out this time by not one but ten muezzins with megaphones five time a day from 5 am onwards.  So I get up and go and see Topkapi Palace, the lair of the Ottoman Sultans.  You wouldn’t believe what they have there.  I didn’t.  The Walking Stick of Moses!  The saucepan of Abraham!  The Sword of the Prophet!  Next to that, the fingerbone of Saint Cecilia looks piss weak.

SANY0462

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

SANY0461

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Also, jewel-encrusted everything.  The Sultan never so much as went to the toilet without his ruby-covered bidet plunger, emerald-armoured toilet-roll holder and gold soap-stick with diamond pile-cutting attachment in hand.

Next, off to the Blue Mosque.  Like the Sistine Chapel, but with curly gold Arabic writing all over everything instead of pictures.  Inside there’s a Turkish tour guide explaining what a rip-off religion is to his flock.  Good to see secularism flourishing!

SANY0504

Then the wondrous Ayia Sofia.  This ancient church is so huge, and so lovely, that I want to weep.  Outside, the faces of ancient icons, long eyes, arched eyebrows.  Byzantine features in living Turks, hurrying about the big square.  There’s also a fat little boy dressed as a sultan in gold robes, posing for photos with his black-clad mum.  Even MORE ways to exploit children – note to self, for when I get home.  Maybe can dress up own kids as gum trees?

SANY0538

Ayia Sofia

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In the evening, people are very kind.  Someone invites me to a party, and we chat about cats.  A waiter leaps out to kidnap me for his restaurant.  “Good morning!” he says brightly.  “It’s night, though,” I point out.  “Is it?” he says, grinning.  Another restaurant has a sign on its door.  “Sorry, we’re not closed.”  Oh, good.

SANY0476

In the Grand Bazaar I sit and drink apple tea and watch the tourists.  They look weary and dispirited.  They don’t know how to deal with the constant invitations to buy, so they say “No, go away”, and “Get lost!” and get angrier and angrier.  I just smile and shake my head – it works, everyone stays happy.  In the Spice Bazaar, there are great trays of yellow and red and brown spices, which you can buy by the bag, plus every kind of tea you can imagine – rose, peppermint, cardamom – and all kinds of coffee.  I get a yen for a jewelled Turkish teapot – but then I think, nah.  You wouldn’t use it, really!  I’m still regretting that decision.

SANY0532

I get a Night Tour of Istanbul.  This consists of nearly getting blown off the Great Bosphorus Bridge, and then sitting in heavy traffic for a couple hours.  Police car sirens wail uselessly – I don’t know why they bother, nobody takes the slightest bit of notice.  Let’s hope it wasn’t urgent.

Before my flight I just HAVE to have a Turkish bath.  A guy I met on a Bosporus cruise goes in too.  He comes out shocked.  “They, you know, want to get really intimate!”.  In the ladies’ section of the hammam, you lie naked on a succession of marble slabs and get rose-flavoured bubbles poured over you.  I’m oiled up and fragrant.  By the time it ends, you feel like a treasured odalisque of the hareem, being primped for the sultan.  Except that I have a feeling concubines of that era had every body hair pulled out individually with tweezers – so thank god time has moved on!

SANY0494

Advertisements

About turnipsforbreakfast

Rose has two blogs, www.butimbeautiful.wordpress.com, and www.turnipsforbreakfast.wordpress.com. Enjoy!
This entry was posted in Rambling Rose, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to And finally…Istanbul!

  1. aFrankAngle says:

    Oh my my … Istanbul is one of the places high on my bucket list. Seems fascinating – and you reinforced that! On the downside, I’ve heard that traffic is horrible!

  2. El Guapo says:

    I spent an overnight in Turkey once, deliovering hardware. Never made it out of the hotel bar (across from teh airport).
    Not saying it was a bad trip though.

  3. How exciting! I would love to go. Please share a pic of the yummy Turkish guy coming out of the water 🙂

  4. Photo number 5 made me laugh out loud. My coffee came out my nose and thank goodness I turned my head in time and sprayed the sofa instead of my laptop. Yeah, I’ve always been fascinated with Turkey but I won’t go all that way to have a Domino’s pizza. Ha ha.

  5. WHAT A CITY! If it is not too late try to catch a soccer match……

  6. cindy knoke says:

    Oh I want to go!! Kudos~

  7. A.M. Ashfyrd says:

    Gorgeous images. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Book me in, I’m sold…apple tea hey? Any good?

  9. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Sounds like a remarkable trip! Enjoy the next adventure!!

  10. joelghames says:

    I get to the end of the blog and realise I’m clenching. Why should that be? Oh yeah, there it is. “Diamond pile-cutting attachment”
    Hope all’s well.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hey, sister no 3 here. Love you to drop a line to the old folks at home. Everything seems amazing so far.

  12. The Hook says:

    Thank God for my blogging allies who travel!
    You’ve saved me thousands on airfare!

  13. That looks amazing. I’m both jealous and envious of you right now!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s