Istanbul, Turkey – 2/9/2015

FEBRUARY 9, 2015 (Monday)

Couldn’t sleep very well, don’t know why. We were up very early but then went back to bed. We ordered room service for breakfast, which was nice. When we peeked out our little window, it was overcast and looked like it would rain (which it did later).

The ship docked in Istanbul around 1:00 PM. Michael and I went to the Stardust Theater to await our tour group disembarking. Everything went pretty smoothly and we met our tour guide, Jasmine, near the big Mercedes bus outside the port building. We were driven around the old wall of Constantinople, and then they took us to the blue Mosque.

Disembarking the ship to see Istanbul.  It was cold and windy.

Disembarking the ship to see Istanbul. It was cold and windy.

A traditional Turkish band greeted us as we passed through the port authority.

A traditional Turkish band greeted us as we passed through the port authority.

They put out quite a sound.

They put out quite a sound.

Pretty woman on the bus.

Pretty woman on the bus.

First impression:  old.

First impression: old.

 

Old wall of Constantinople.

Old wall of Constantinople.

More of the old wall.

More of the old wall.

So many Mosques.  Heard 600+ to 3,000+.

So many Mosques. Heard 600+ to 3,000+.

Dense but very spread out, a city of over 14 million people.

Dense but very spread out, a city of over 14 million people.

Modern with ancient.

Modern with ancient.

Crumbling history

Crumbling history

The buses are all nice, no scratches, excellent drivers.

The buses are all nice, no scratches, excellent drivers.

Follow the orange umbrella...

Follow the orange umbrella…

Lots and lots of cobblestone in circular patterns.

Lots and lots of cobblestone in circular patterns.

Dogs outside the Mosque

Dogs outside the Mosque

Dogma outside the Mosque

Dogma outside the Mosque

Almost a protective portal one must pass through to enter the Mosque.

Almost a protective portal one must pass through to enter the Mosque.

Before we went inside the Mosque, we were given a bag to put our shoes into to carry around while Jasmine talked into the headphone given us on the bus to use for this tour (so as not to disturb the praying people inside the Mosque). There is a separate praying area for women, behind screens. The actual Mosque is huge and quite beautiful. The rules about no shoes were strictly enforced. Also, the women had to cover their hair while inside the Mosque.  We had been told about the shoes and women’s hair in advance.  If you forgot your head covering, they had ones to borrow available.

My own fearful thoughts come up as I search for the symbols of God.

My own fearful thoughts come up as I search for the symbols of God in the Islamist Holy building.

The absence of symbols is the technique.

The absence of symbols is the technique.

Symmetry and form representing God, I think.

Symmetry and form representing God, I think.

Beautiful ceiling.

Beautiful ceiling.

Obedient woman, covered, at the Mosque..

Obedient woman, covered, at the Mosque..

Oh wait, it's pretty woman, not obedient, just being polite.

Oh wait, it’s pretty woman, not obedient, just being polite.

Big ground space.  Wish now I had asked how the rug was made.

Big ground space. Wish now I had asked how the rug was made.

Very well maintained ceiling tiles.

Very well maintained ceiling tiles.

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Interesting model in the Blue Mosque.

Interesting model in the Blue Mosque.

 

Once we got outside the Mosque, we saw people getting ready to go inside by washing their feet.  When the group left the Mosque, we walked past Hagia Sophia and got back onto the bus. We were then driven to a carpet store, where we were able to use the bathroom, have a drink and a snack, and see a carpet being made. Also, they had jewelry and carpet to look at and buy. The woman making the beautiful silk carpet was in traditional garb. We were told she was only able to work three hours a day and the little carpet she was working on could take over eight months to finish.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

Minaret

Minaret

Prayer clock.

Prayer clock and washing stations.

Mosques gold spires everywhere

Mosque gold spires everywhere

A courtyard at the Blue Mosque.

A courtyard at the Blue Mosque.

Same architecture.

Same architecture.

Pretty woman following Jasmine.

Pretty woman following Jasmine.

Inside the Courtyard to the Mosque

Inside the courtyard to the Mosque

These birds are aggressive and smart.  Cousin's to Magpie's I think

These birds are aggressive and smart. Cousins to Magpies I think

Headed away from the Blue Mosque.

Headed away from the Blue Mosque.

Our first rug making demonstration.  They let us watch and did not explain too much.  The pattern is on the top.  If you look close it is layed out like graph paper with little squares.  You count the squares over and see the color that goes there.  Each white cord represents a square on the pattern.  They work 3 hours at a time, no more.  Takes up to a year for one worker to finish one rug.

Our first rug making demonstration. They let us watch and did not explain too much. The pattern is on the top. If you look close it is layed out like graph paper with little squares. You count the squares over and see the color that goes there. Each white cord represents a square on the pattern. They work 3 hours at a time, no more. Takes up to a year for one worker to finish one rug.

Micky D's in Istanbul.

Micky D’s in Istanbul.

City sights.

City sights.

Marble outside a Mosque

Marble outside a Mosque

On the sidewalks, marble again.

On the sidewalks, marble again.

Rows of sinks for washing.

Rows of sinks for washing.

Pretty woman in the blue coat getting a picture of a man washing before going into the Mosque

Pretty woman in the blue coat getting a picture of a man washing before going into the Mosque

 

When we left the carpet place, Jasmine took us to the Grand Bazaar and told us to be back at Gate 1 in an hour and a half. The Grand Bazaar is huge but it seemed to us to have mostly the same items over and over again. We did a little shopping – found a Turkey turquoise ring for Lexi, some gold for Aaron, and some other things for other. After the Grand Bazaar, we were taken back to the ship.

Grand Bazaar. Look out for Edie.

Grand Bazaar. Look out for Edie.

The first row of shops on the outside of the Bazaar.

The first row of shops on the outside of the Bazaar.

Not too crowded today, probably because it was so cold and threatening snow.

Not too crowded today, probably because it was so cold and threatening snow.

Clean, well lit, close quarters for the shops.

Clean, well lit, close quarters for the shops.

Looking down one way,

Looking down one way,

Then another...

Then another…

Then another...

Then another…

Not sure.

Not sure.

So many jewelry stores.

So many jewelry stores.

Dancer's stores.

Dancer stores.

A little bit of home.

A little bit of home.

I was getting tempted.  These were beautiful sets.

I was getting tempted. These were beautiful sets.

Our salesman for a few little purchases.

Our salesman for a few little purchases.

Beautiful and old.

Beautiful and old.

Old gate,

Old gate,

Old gate,  Possibly, #1.

Old gate, Possibly, #1.

Cold and wet.  Glad to get back on the bus.

Cold and wet. Glad to get back on the bus.

Once back at the ship we had dinner, rested a little bit, then met outside the port gate for our night tour of Istanbul.

Came back to an elephant on our bed.  Lenna did good.

Came back to an elephant on our bed. Lenna did good.

The night tour was very beautiful – seeing the Mosques lit up. We once again went to the area of the blue Mosque but we also saw a huge fish market and some other things.

Before starting the night tour our new guide gave each of us a card.  She explained that if we got lost to give it to a local and ask for help.  The other side had their contact information and they would see that we are rescued.  Had to laugh when I read it, my wallet isn't a safe enough place for the card.

Before starting the night tour our new guide gave each of us a card. She explained that if we got lost to give it to a local and ask for help. The other side had their contact information and they would see that we are rescued. Had to laugh when I read it, my wallet isn’t a safe enough place for the card.

Disembarking for the night tour.  Distant bridge.

Disembarking for the night tour. Distant bridge.

All roads lead to Rome pillar.

All roads lead to Rome pillar.

Modern version.

Modern version.

Explanatory obelisk.

Explanatory obelisk.

Night views.

Night views.

Sultan's square

Sultan’s square

Fountain changes colors

Fountain changes colors

Night time at the Blue Mosque.

Night time at the Blue Mosque.

Night time snow at Hagia Sophia.

Night time snow at Hagia Sophia.

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On the way back to the ship, lots of Mosques in Istanbul.

On the way back to the ship, lots of Mosques in Istanbul.

Distant Mosque.

Distant Mosque.

We were back at the ship and in bed by around 10:30 PM.

That was our day. Hope yours was great!

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