April 26

I'm settled snug in my itty bitty room with a nice window and a view which is amazing at this price, at the Metropolis Hostel in Istanbul, Turkey. It's been days since I got up this morning, but all the cramped sitting and agonized standing and airplane food is over now and I've almost forgotten it already.

This map provides a pretty decent if distorted orientation for where Turkey is in the world - they have marked the Bosporus Strait and the Sea of Marmara as well as the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Crossroads it is.

And speaking of where they are, Turkey has been lobbying for years now for entrance into the EU. This is a topic about which I will have 20 different opinions over just the next 10 days I'm sure. A few EU people I met on the flights certainly had their opinions, along the lines of No WAY.

I hope I sleep for 10 hours and wake up just in time for the breakfast buffet on the roof terrace included in the price of the room. Ahh, right now as I type it's 9:35pm and I'm hearing my first call to prayer. Yikes, I hope I sleep through the call at 5am. It wasn't so bad really. I was expecting those screaming crackly distort-o way too amplified loudspeakers but actually it did just sound like a guy yelling out at the top of his singing voice, and it didn't last very long either. (Ok, the one that came around 1pm wasn't as good...)
April 27

Good morning! I'm staying at the Metropolis Hostel, the yellow building in the picture.

And yes, all those bike folk are staying around the neighborhood and have been perfectly fine neighbors.

(btw-I came in from the airport on the Metro which was very easy and very cheap although if you have more than one small bag I wouldn't recommend it...it gets massively crowded. I have heard complaints from some of my hostel mates about the noise in the rooms but I'm still happy with my spot in room 302 despite the noise.)
My first breakfast on the roof garden. It was cold and gray and the picture didn't do justice to the view so that'll be for another time.

On the plate with the cheese, olives, orange, butter-jam-honey-chocolate hazelnut butter, tomato and cucumber, they were adding strawberries, a hard boiled egg, and a slice of meat.

And then you were welcome to as much of that bread as you could eat and I'll tell ya you could eat a lot of that bread. I'm sure I'll be dreaming about that never empty basket of scrumptious fresh perfectly crispy crust and perfectly dense soft insides.
First tourista stop: The Basilica Cistern.

Wiki says there are several hundred cisterns under Istanbul and that this one is the largest. She also says Emperor Constantine first built a structure that was later enlarged by Emperor Justinian in 532 to provide water for the growing needs of the the Great Palace of Constantinople.
The cistern's water comes from the Belgrade Woods (12 miles north of the city) via aqueducts built by Emperor Justinian.

In area it's a little under two and a half acres. One source said only three quarters of the cistern is available to visitors.
Many of the materials were taken from other sites around the empire, for the cistern and for the Hagia Sophia. For this reason there are capitals of columns in the Ionic and Corinthian styles, and a few in the Doric style.

And there are also two of these - two columns with blocks carved with the face of Medusa probably taken from a building in Rome.
The cistern, like the Terra Cotta Warriors, was at one point lost and later found. I need to confirm the details.
Cats are everywhere eVerywhere and they are in surprisingly decent shape. I've never seen so many cats. And I can't really call them feral since so many have come up to me to meow and rub against my leg.

I've pet many already because I couldn't not even if I tried.
Food wise - Istanbul is my kind'a town.
Street food! Even if it isn't exactly off the street there are sooo many shops right on the street that offer one-off tasty treats to eat right now. Happy me!
The guys hanging outside every establishment calling out 'where are you from?!' 'just have a look!' 'what's your name?!' 'take my picture!'. I think 'take my picture!' is a last resort to get you to stop and in this case - it worked!
An entrance gate to the courtyard of The Blue Mosque (Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I (Sultan Ahmet Camii)). You can see a bit of the mosque itself through the archway.
From inside the courtyard.

The mosque was built from 1603-17 by Ottoman architect Sedefkâr Mehmet A?a, student of Mimar Sinan. It's built on the site of the Great Palace of Byzantium.

If you're interested in the history, geography, architecture, and political and religious significance of The Blue Mosque please do have a look at the wiki article. I feel like copying the whole thing, but no need for that.
It's a gasper alright, when you first walk into this amazing space. You can see some of the blue tiles that give the mosque its name. The lighting is interesting too, all those bulbs hung from individual strings throughout the mosque.

From wiki (ok, I couldn't resist and I didn't know this): "After the Peace of Zsitvatorok and the unfavourable result of the wars with Persia, Sultan Ahmed I decided to build a large mosque in Istanbul to placate Allah." I had read in another source that he just wanted to make something more grand than the Aya Sofya.
This is much less than one-half the space used by the men when praying.
Women get one hallway behind that wooden fence, and another hallway of the same design on the other side.
Hard to imagine, isn't it, this soaring space so intricately decorated in magnificent tilework.
An outside view.
Good night Blue Mosque!
On the main drag in Sutanahmet, the area where I'm staying, hookah clubs domonate the street. I am quite sure they are smoking flavored tobacco.
A buffet I enjoyed tonight. It looks like a steam table with food sitting out, which it was, but it was YUM!
Tomorrow, Aya Sofya.
April 28

This bread bakery is around the corner from my hostel. Ahh the Aroma. I am not bothering to resist this bread. Resistance is futile anyway.

I had intended to visit the Aya Sofya today but by 10:30 it all felt so crowded, I'm going to try tomorrow at 9. Instead I just started walking west intending to find the Spice Market. It was not a direct journey!
This is a complex of Mausoleums of the royal families of the 1600s. I think.

I'm not 100% sure of a lot about this because I didn't pay attention when I went in and now I can't find it in the Eyewitness Travel guidebook. It's got to be here somewhere!
All the green shapes represented one of the persons named as being in the mausoleum. Are the bodies in the mausoleum? I don't know.

It seemed the shapes were laid out in order of age and all the males had that white piece attached.

There were three or four mausolems and some detail from each follows.

From Ellen: "the bodies are not in those green-cloth-covered tomb-like shapes. Muslims need to be buried in the ground, and most often the bodies are in the ground underneath the hulking shapes."
There must be books full of all these marvelous domes...
...and tiles. PhDs have been granted...Careers have been made!
This was unusual.
In my wanderings I think I traveled through many different neighborhoods and never felt ill at ease or at all concerned. I felt quite sure that at some point I would notice a minaret, walk toward it and then know where I was.

Every few minutes someone would ask if he could help me. (And outside Sultanahmet no one tried to sell me a rug.) Just do what they say, it doesn't matter much and you'll get there eventually. You can also always go into a hotel where they have English speakers and maps.
Baklava anyone?
The Spice Bazaar. Yikes.
In the streets surrounding the Spice Bazaar, and I don't know in which direction I walked, there was another warren of market streets and here they were selling more grocery style food items.

My favorites were the cheese stalls. These guys selling cheese had a great performance going on between themselves. I think they were just calling out what they had but it was very entertaining.
In the same block with the Spice Market is the Yeni Mosque, also known as the New Mosque, despite it being 400 years old.

What's interesting is it was two women who commissioned the mosque. Safiye, mother of Mehmet III started it in 1597 but lost her influence upon the death of her son, and then it was completed by Turhan Hadice, mother of Mehmet IV.
Those amazing tiles and decorated domes are...
The folks in the red booths are selling pigeon food.
This is the great Suleymaniye Mosque, closed for renovations. I knew that, but I forgot. But you have to go there anyway!

You have to go there for...
...The BEANS. Do not miss the beans. There are a number of restaurants across the street from the Mosque. They have several things to choose from but everyone, it was crazy, EVERYONE was eating these beans so of Course I HAD to have me some of those beans.

It wasn't like oh wow this is the most amazing thing I've ever eaten, but it was very delicious, and there was Bread, and for a beverage I drank the yogurt-water mixture that gets mixed up in that fountain/faucet. Yum!
On the site of the mosque is the Tomb of Suleyman.
More wandering took me through the University district.
Now I'm going to make an actual effort to get home because I'm tired! I'm thinking a nice nap would be good...
April 29

I had to change hotels today, which I knew when I reserved Metropolis, that they didn't have space for my full stay, so I'd also reserved a room at Orient, another highly regarded hostel. Orient turned out to be a no-go... the door of the room when opened less than half way whammed into the bed with no actual place to stand. I spent a little extra with them to upgrade tonight's accommodation as they would not return my deposit.

Then I set out to find my next place! Hotel Emre offered what felt was a nice cozy space with the view I have come to adore but when I said ok, they changed the deal, the good room only being available for one night, so I moved on down the road.

I stopped at several places that were already full, or too expensive, or not so great. At Hotel Zeugma they had what looked like a good room (I'm getting one of those balconies which is great for the light but maybe noisy?) and they agreed to the price I was willing to pay. So I'll be moving again tomorrow.
This is a shot from last night, out the window of my perfect little number 302 at Metropolis. I really like that room!
A picture from the lobby of the Aya Sofya, a representation of what the building looked like before they added the minarets to turn it into a mosque, and before they added the buttresses to hold up the massive structure, neither of which improved the appearance I fear.

As Ellen reminded me, so I'll share: Aya Sofya is Turkish, Hagia Sophia is Greek. Now I'm going to use Aya Sofya, being in Turkey and all.
From the entrance hall looking into the grand space.
This is a close-up of the Mosaic over the door. All quotes from Ms Wiki.

"Completed in 537 it was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years."
"In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into a mosque."

As you can see now whatever restoration is planned is in process, making a mess of your photos...
...and mostly I think revealing the original mosaics that were plastered over when they switched the Aya Sofya from a cathedral to a mosque.
Here's another example of the revealing mosaics for which the original church was so renown.
"The Islamic features — such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside — were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the Republic of Turkey."

I could not have imagined how discombobulating it would be to spend time in this half mosque/half cathedral both halves in desperate need of repair. My eyes were all a-shiver.
I'm thinking these decorations are from different eras?
This style was my favorite, I don't know why yet.
There is a picture on my first day of the Aya Sofya taken from the Blue Mosque across the plaza, and it's the only place that I could find where the Aya Sofya looks graceful from the outside. Mostly you find raggedy views like this one.

I'm looking forward to coming again in 10 years to see what they have decided to do!
I am now just across the road inside the walls of the Topkapi Palace..."the official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years of their 624-year reign, from 1465 to 1856."
The grand entrance gate.
"Topkap? Palace is among those monuments belonging to the "Historic Areas of Istanbul", which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, and is described in Criterion iv as "the best example[s] of ensembles of palaces of the Ottoman period.""

The 'ensembles of palaces' means that all the functions of the royalty and the government were in different buildings. What you can visit are various displays set up in the smallish rooms which become packed with tourists, packed, like crazy elevator packed, always trying to add that one more person.

A cruise ship was in, school is out this month, it was the first sunny day in a week - all together making it so that I couldn't even get a ticket to see the harem which is supposed to be the highlight. But you know... you can't do everything and I'm just glad for what I can.
This is my favorite building. It's like a simple lounge or gathering spot, with those great low couches and pillows, a fireplace, handsome tilework, and gorgeous windows.
A detail from the outside.
And this is the view! There's also a fabulous sea view that was blocked off to tourists. Mighty wow.
Tonight's dinner on my corner. See those guys out front trolling for guests?

Every store has a guy out front. I've walked through my streets so many times now they've stopped pitching me, they just point, and we smile and nod.
April 30

A fisheye view from my very own balcony. Nice!
On my walk to find the Rustem Pasa Mosque I arrived at a place clearly marked on my map as Rustem Pasa Mosque. But first of all it was several blocks south of the Spice Market, and secondly it was completely shrouded in blue plastic, and completely under reconstruction. But where was I?

It was closed, clearly marked off limits. I am 98% sure that it was my few Turkish words that got me in there. My monologue to the guard went as follows: "Hello, excuse me, please (pointing to my map), thank you!".

He chuckled, shook his head, and let me in and apparently told a woman who was attached to the project to walk me around...but I still couldn't figure out where I was!
Here's the entrance to the real Rustem Pasa Mosque. Good thing I'm not afraid to ask! Carry a map and clearly write the name of the place you want to go and anyone will help you. (Another good thing is I knew the Rustem Pasa Mosque was in the Spice Market or I might have stopped looking.)

So you enter a basically unmarked opening in a wall, climb up a few flights of stairs, and come upon...

"The Rüstem Pasha Mosque was designed by Ottoman imperial architect Mimar Sinan for Grand Vizier Damat Rüstem Pasha (husband of one of the daughters of Suleiman the Magnificent, Princess Mihrimah). Its building took place from 1561 to 1563."
And this.

"The Rüstem Pasha Mosque is famous for its large quantities of exquisite ?znik tiles, set in a very wide variety of beautiful floral and geometric designs, which cover not only the façade of the porch but also the mihrab, minbar, walls, columns and on the façade of the porch outside."
What a knockout place, and the tourist invasion seemed limited (in my case limited to me) which made it particularly peaceful especially as you come to it from the chaos of the Spice Market.
Just before leaving the Spice Market I passed by this place. Well, I passed by and then I turned around to go back. Of course I Had to have some.

There are many fairly big open air fish places along the waterfront but I liked it here. This was all they did...
...you could have these little fishies on a plate or on a big honkin' roll of scrumptous bread. If you got the plate you got the bread on the side.


An old guy who was already eating tapped the table and insisted I sit beside him. The place was very small and very crowded and there was not a free table. It was all so cheery and DEElicious. I got to say all my Turkish words again which was an extra treat. The old guy was cracking up.
Just a short way down are the piers where you can pick up a boat leading either up the Golden Horn or up the Bosporus.

I was traveling up the Golden Horn. Here's what wiki says: "It is a scimitar-shaped estuary that joins the Bosporus just at the point where that strait enters the Sea of Marmara, thus forming a peninsula the tip of which is "Old Istanbul" (ancient Byzantium and Constantinople)."

These are some buildings along the way. I took the public ferry for about a dollar and it was great fun.
Hi sweetie girls!

I took their picture with their cameras and then said 'may I have one too?'. As a very general rule people here, especially the women, look away if they happen to find themselves in a scene where a photo might be taken but these girls said 'Sure!'.
I got off the ferry and began the walk to Eyup being almost immediately distracted by what I think are Istanbul's old city walls.

There was something serious going on inside here as all the men were dressed in what seemed like conservative religious garb and there were no women at all.
A detail of the wall.
Coming into the town of Eyup I was struck by the river of women (literally, actually struck), also very conservatively dressed so I entered the river and ended up at this, the Eyup Sultan Mosque, which is the most sacred mosque in Istanbul and a major pilgrimage site.

Eyup Ensari was the standard bearer for the Prophet Mohamed (he carried the flag) and this is where he is buried. Everyone wants to be buried here. The town and surrounding hills are full of mausoleums and grave yards.
Inside the courtyard of the mosque. Amazing.
Again I entered the river of women leading into this place. I'm sure there is a relic here because everyone, and 90% of the visitors were women, was praying very fervently and when leaving would walk backward down the hallway.

I just clicked this shot from my waist. Photos were not forbidden as many women were flashing away, but I didn't want to get them in a picture.
More gathering outside.
A little way beyond the mosque complex and past many mausoleums and grave yards is the funicular that will take you up the hill to the Pierre Loti Café where it is required that you enjoy the view and a Turkish coffee.

Not changing the subject, I will comment that the smoking in Turkey has been, no problem. There is no smoking in restaurants, hotels, basically public places, except for the hookah clubs but that's a different story.

So I've been comfortable everywhere I've gone. Except here at the Pierre Loti Café. There must be a rule or something. If you are going to sit here you have to smoke. It was so intense I had to move along.
Coming down on the funicular you can see the hillsides covered in graves.
And now, since I was relatively nearby, a seven lira cab ride away, I decided to go see Chora - The Church of St Saviour in Chora (Kariye Müzesi, Kariye Camii, or Kariye Kilisesi — the Chora Museum, Mosque or Church). It is a museum now and offically know as Kariye Müzesi.

This is a view from the back of the building.
Yet again another gasper! This is a smallish space but, although not fully restored, TONS of great religious art is clearly visible, both mosaics and frescos.

The images are full of stories and the wiki article goes into great detail.
The building was first constructed in the 11th century, the art added in the early 1300s, and then covered over with plaster when converted into a mosque in the 16th century.

It truly is amazing. An amazing feat in the first place, and amazing restorations that have been done in recent times.
Following are a few of the 10s of pictures I took. How they came out seemed to depend on how the light was happening at that moment...
...I'm sure on another day at another time everything would look different.
Walking back to my hotel. You'll remember I mentioned about the cats. Cats cats cats, and I do enjoy cats.

It makes me smile when I so often run across little piles of dry cat food carefully placed in a doorway corner or along the edge of a fence. You'd think this practice would invite vermin, but I guess not, because of the cats.
May 1

Dear Family and Friends, you know I wanted to, but like I said I would, in an extreme abundance of caution, I didn't go. I asked one of the hotel people 'how was it today with the rally?' and she replied 'no problems at all, thankfully, this is very good for us'.

From National Turk online, the rest of the article:

"The largely peaceful celebrations had only a single incident ... But with the cooperation of the police, the incident ended without growing. ... Security was tightened a day earlier in the Taksim area and preparations were made as glasses of bus stops were removed and large police barriers were applied near pavements to block protesters from smashing windows if any violence occurred.

There were also celebration in other cities in Turkey ... but all eyes were at Taksim due to predictions of huge violences though none did occur. The main slogans by the workers groups were for better working conditions, more jobs, and better pay."
I was in the mood for some quiet, lazy reading today so I did my usual - I found a very nice hotel and enjoyed their comfy lounge.

I picked the Four Seasons because it is in my neighborhood and for the price of a beverage I could savor a luxurious few hours. Now I'm thinking to stay in Istanbul another couple nights and then spending four nights in Cappadocia. It means missing Ephesus though, and the flights are not working out smoothly. But at the moment I don't feel like rushing away. I must decide in just a few hours!
The Great Palace Mosaic Museum where large portions of a huge mosaic floor from The Great Palace of Constantinople, probably constructed in the mid-500s, is on display.

"The tessellated pavement is composed of 5 mm wide tesserae of colored lime, terracotta and glass. One square meter of floor space contains about 40,000 cubes, which makes for 80,000,000 tesserae for the entire area of the mosaic."

Most of the sections are quite pale...
...so I 'enhanced' these a little.
This is pretty much how he looked. Fabulous detail isn't it, like you could know this guy.
A little early evening grazing.
I think this man and his cart must be a national treasure. He kept himself on the go, moving from corner to corner where at each corner he would be surrounded by the guys who stand in doors.

He has those breads pre-spread with what I don't know, then he adds the crispy lettuce and a fresh herb and delicious fresh tomatoes and then, from those pink buckets, with a great flourish, he flings nice crunchy salt and a good amount of ground hot pepper onto the bread. Then he rolls it all up, wraps it in a piece of paper, and hands it to you like he would the gift of a beautiful rose.

For this scrumptious treat you pay one Turkish lira, about 67 cents.
May 2

Big day!

What you are seeing is all part of the small finger of Turkey that lies in Europe. The much much larger Asia part lies across the Bosporous. I hope to visit just a bit on the Asia shore tomorrow.

btw This map was on the wall of the train station.
But first how about let's have us a nice little hit of Vitamin C.
I started from my hotel at (A). This is around (B). It's a gorgeous walk with sea views on one side and the walls of Topkapi palace on the other.
More from the road. I don't know who that guy is. Have I mentioned yet about Eyewitness Travel Guide to Istanbul? It's a beautiful guidebook but too heavy to carry around, to handsome to tear out pages, and for me, does not contain enough information.

This is the first place I've visited, and probably the last I will visit without a Lonely Planet guide. Even a bad Lonely Planet guide whould tell about this I would think.
On to (C), the historic train station of Orient Express fame and still in use today.
Walking past the ferry terminals and fish sandwich stands to the Galata Bridge at (D).
Check out the size of those fishing poles - like ready to catch a giant marlon. What they do catch are fish between four and six inches long(!) and as many as ten on a string.

Everyone, it seemed, was pulling them in in great numbers, and thinking about dinner.
Next I rode the tram from (E) to (F), ending here at the Dolmabahçe Palace, most well known as the place where Ataturk spent his last days, and finally died here.
The front of the palace.
This mosque is just next to the palace. It was very pleasant and quiet in here. Notice all the windows making it a unique and serene space.

While I was here it was me and that guy up front. I only snapped this one shot because my camera was so loud it sounded like a cannon was going off. And then just as I was leaving a bus full of German tourists pulled up, so lucky me on the timing.
Then I headed out for the very long uphill slog to Taksim Square. Just floating on the air I could hear a flute soloist. Wow, maybe I could go listen?!

And I could! There was a graduation going on at this university and that cutie boy at the front door with the carnations said I could wander around for a while, just don't take any pictures. I'm not sure why since cameras were flashing away like crazy, but I didn't, except for this picture of a picture that was prominently placed on the wall. I wonder what is its story.
Several blocks before actually arriving at Taksim Square these police barricades began to appear and continued all the way to the Square. They were gathering them up to put away until next time I'm sure.
At (G) The Monument of Independence from 1928 with "Ataturk and the Founding Fathers of the modern Turkish Republic."
Walking from (G) to (H) it was A-Ma-Zing. Over here in the Beyogle district is the modern commercial part of Istanbul.

The places I was visiting though were basically for leisure, both for tourists and locals...
...including every side street chock-o-block with restaurants, snack shops, stores of every description, clubs, and even the occasional sign pointing upstairs for 'artistic tattoos'.
Right off the road of the throngs you can step into the courtyard of the Saint Antoine Church. This is looking away from the church.

It could be a refuge, but not when the whole courtyard was packed with people.
Here's a look to the inside.
Another of what the housing looks like in this neighborhood, including a museum and a hotel. It has a most appealing feel I think but the surrounding blocks are night-club-central it seems.

Then I took the tunnel-trolly from (I) to (J), the bus from (J) to (K), walked up another long hill...
...to arrive at the Conrad Hilton, 15th floor executive lounge, for this view of the Bosporous...
...and dinner with Joy (on the right) who invited me having run across my website, and her friend Deronda. Both women are working in Istanbul now - Deronda planning to stay semi-permanently and Joy on a one year contract with IBM.

I had a totally great time with two smart and interesting, resourceful and adventursome women. Thank you Joy!
May 3

Most of the breakfast buffet at my hotel pictured here. We've got three kinds of cheese including feta, a type of cheddar, and a kind of string cheese. Three kinds of olives. Five kinds of spreads for your bread and three kinds of jam for your yogurt. Two kinds of meat. Corn flakes and chocolate flavored corn flakes. Always an egg dish of some preparation. And always always very delicious bread, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I'm a happy camper.
Loudspeakers are positioned thus around the minarets. It's all about the guy who is doing the call - does he hold his mouth too close to the microphone and really go at so it sounds like a dj at a scratch challenge, or does he calmly and sincerely just sing the words.
Another roll-up! Completely different and delicious too.
A hammam...sort of. I'll tell this story after I get everything else done.
May 4

Ahmet and Eser found me on the internet and invited me out. They gave up their whole day to drive me places it's not so easy to visit by public transportation and ohh yeah, I had Such a time!
We crossed over the Galata Bridge from 'my side' to 'the other side' of the European finger and headed up the Bosporus.
In this town there are maybe 6-8 stands like this one all with similar egg shaped piles (they call them 'potato') each one more lavishly decorated than the next.
There are two bridges that cross the Bosporus. Absolutely everyone I ever heard speak of them called them The First Bridge and The Second Bridge.

I don't know which one that is. On our drive we went to Asia on the second bridge and came back across on the first.
Mecidiye Mosque. It's really different from the outside.
I think the dome is particularly lovely.
And this is the main room of the mosque. This one, like the other one near here (the one that also had a lot of windows) both have these massive crystal chandeliers whereas the older ones have the individual light bulbs spread throughout the space hanging from the domes by long long strings.

Must be about the style and era of the building.
The Pigeon Tree.
This is the high school building connected with Bogazici Universitesi where Ahmet teaches and where their daughter is going to be married on June 19th. If that date looks familiar to you it should because it's my Birthday.

It's a gorgeous location for a wedding and everyone is very happy about it all.

Loving those Judas trees that brighten every corner of Istanbul. It's like cherry blossom season - utterly magnificent and then gone.
Why are all these ladies gathered? To climb down a steep staircase just two or three at a time and...
...enter this room where you toss the strings of tinsel you've just bought and wish for a good match for your daughter. You can wish for youself too, but we were wishing for our daughters!

Then when your wish comes true you're supposed to come back and say thank you. Sounds fair.
The Black Sea! The inset shows where the tour boats stop and where you can climb to that fortification at the top.
Having crossed at the second bridge we are now In Asia.

This was originally a channel dug for the use of the ladies of the court who would, of a summers day, row up and back, dressed to the nines with all their minions in tow.
A much smaller fortification built earlier than the Fortress of Europe and not to a very useful end or so I heard from Ahmet.
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at this lovely, quiet cafe right on the water.
And I don't know which bridge this one is either!
We ended the afternoon with a cup of coffee at A&E's home. We can note that all cats do not live on the street as several of them live here.

That's Ahmet's book he's holding. I got to look through the book with a personal naration by the author himself. It's very cool and available on Amazon: Dreams and Perception (Dusler ve Gorusler) by Ahmet Cafer Celebiler.

The view from their patio is so vast - I couldn't figure out any other way to show it. That's the Blue Mosque on the farthest right and I'm not sure of the landmark on the farthest left.
And THEN Ahmet invited me to join them for an evening dinner and cruise on the Bosporus. Yes! It was a business thing, put on by folks in the insurance business for whom Ahmet does some work.

I haven't attended a good business party in Forever and this one was Good.
First we had all that, then they brought more, and then there was the whole fish course just the way I like it, then dessert and coffee. And an open bar all night long.

They also had a Turkish folk band and a belly dancer to entertain the guests. Everyone was smiling.
What a treat!
I cannot even believe At All that I got to be here, doing this, on my last night in Istanbul.

Allahaismarladik Istanbul, tesekkur ederim!
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