Museum Days

Museum Days
Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

The last two days have been museum days. Yesterday morning, I went to the Basilica Cistern. It’s bcompletely unlike any of the cisterns I saw in Israel. Its turkish name means “sunken palace” and that makes sense. It’s beautiful actually. Very decorative.A bit of a highlight for this place was this: I had finished with my chewing gum and spotted a bin, it was empty, bar a coke can, standing rightside up. I threw my chewy in the bin, and ting! In it went, through the ring pull hole! What a shot! Of course, no one was around to see it but that’s okay. I bought some Turkish icecream and ate it in the park near the Blue Mosque. Turkish icecream is really cool – it’s stretchy; you see the vendors stretch a big blob of it out to about 50cms! After my fill of icecream, I walked down to the Topkapi Palace. It was built by a Sultan I believe, Mehmet II 500 odd years ago, and needless to say, it’s quite fancy. Has a slight Aladdin feel to it. There was an exhibit there I missed out on, apparently it has hairs from the Prophet Mohommad’s beard as well as one of his teeth! Glad to see the Moslem faith is not immune to those sort of religious relics! There was an exhibit full of all these beautiful jewels, must have been worth an incredible amount of money. There was a room full of all of Mehmet’s dresses, they were incredibly beautiful and each used a ridiculously extravagent amount of fabric, as seems to be the regal way. It was absolutely packed and I was feeling a little under the weather (fluey thing, fingers crossed not swine he he!) Everyone was lined up, walking around the exhibits and someone behind me kept walking into me, or otherwise was so incredibly close, I could feel them. I’m not a fan of being touched at the best of times let alone when I’m feeling crook and sorry for myself and I looked around at the culprit. It was a poor young burkah-ed lady, must have given her a good one because she kept a safe distance after that! Started today at the Archeological Museum…huge place. Highlights included seeing parts of the Ishtar Gate, built by King Nebuchadnezzar 500 years before Jesus was around. Unreal. Still in good nick too. There’s also this stone with carved writing in it, which is the oldest surviving peace treaty – it was between Hittites and a Pharoah. I also saw something about this early church run charitable place called the Orphanage of St. Paul in Sultanameht. It was like a nursing home for the elderly, as well as children and people who were blind. Apparently it could serrve up to 10 000! So glad I’m not buying their bingo prizes! Woah! There was also something about Masada and Meggido which was exciting – I visited these places last week in Israel! Next stop was the Haghia Sofia. It was built around AD 500 as a Christian church. About 1000 years later, Muslims converted it into a Mosque, and then nearly 100 years ago, it was made into a museum. It’s really interesting to see the mix of Islam and Christianity in the one place; there’s Jesus mosaics (these were covered up for the mosque conversion) and then right next to them are big arabic Allah slogans. My final museum visit for today was to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Lots of rugs and mosaics. Interestingly, not many paintings of people, because Allah is the only creater of humans, so for this reason, calligraphy is also huge in Islamic culture. Had lunch at this terrific place called Cennet. I had Gozleme and you can actully see Hijabed Turkish women kneading the dough and making it right in front of you. You sit on cushions on the ground and these musicians wander around the restaurant, playing Turkish music. And I think I paid less than AU$4 for the privelege. Eating out is cheap in Turkey. After this, another visit to the Grand Bazaar and a wander through the outdoor markets. I had heard that these are definitely worth a visit; while the Grand Bazaar is aimed at tourists, the outdoor markets are for the locals. These were great – packed with people, and they were rushing everywhere, stuff being sold was random and clothing available ranged from Burkahs and Hijabs to skimpy Hello Kitty tshirts sporting the slogan, “Hello Baby.” I even spotted some little Sultan outfits for boys.


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