Walking Bus with Many Stops

Trip Start Jun 21, 2012
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Trip End Jul 11, 2012


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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Our plan for today was to involve starting off from the hotel on a bus, however when the bus didn't turn up, we instead walked to our first stop of the day. Topkapi Palace is set in an oasis of open grassy areas behind a huge stone wall with immense, guarded gates. The view is million dollar, to say the least, and we visited a fraction of the buildings in the complex. Photo opportunities abounded - I think I took something like 300 for the day today - with dome after dome, tiled wall after tiled wall, and stone walls that show their age in weathering that couldn't hope to be faked.

Our next port of call was an archaeological museum to view some relics from Palestine, one being a stone with one of the earliest examples of Hebrew text known. Many headless statues, faceless statues, pottery, etc - you get the idea. There was far too much material to take in in one go.

Lunch was a traditional Ottoman Empire restaurant called Asitane. Most of the group enjoyed the food, although it was quite unlike anything many of us had ever tried. There were many courses (5 perhaps?) and it went on for a long time. I wasn't a big fan of the food, but it was an interesting experience. Next door to the restaurant was another church, with domes, tiles, etc - you get the idea. Many painted walls depicting Mary, Jesus, the apostles, John the Baptist and so on.

Back on the bus, and then a visit to Hagia Sophia, a very well known former church, former mosque, and now a museum. The shear size of the inside was staggering! There was a gallery most of the way around, and from there, people on the main floor looked tiny! The sloped ramp/tunnel to get to the gallery level was amazing, if somewhat tiring.

Last visit for the day was to the Basilica Cistern. The photos really don't do it justice. It was like a forest of columns under the city, with shallow water and fish in the bottom and walkways all through it. This used to be one of the water storage places for the city. A spooky place indeed if the lights went out! While I was there, Mel was revisiting the Spice Markets for souvenirs, only to find that by the time she had walked there, they were closing.

Dinner was at 8pm in the hotel restaurant, although after such a large and long lunch, we didn't feel like much. We had a group meeting at 9pm, with some prayer time, then back to our rooms for bed (or blog as the case may be).
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