Istanbul Travelogue: Day 4 and 5

April 30, 2007 at 9:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A weekend of medieval fortresses, whirling dervishes, and about a billion stairs. See our photos.

We got an early start Saturday on a scenic Bosphorus cruise. We got a great seat on the European side on the top level, and I got great pics of the many palaces, mosques and fortresses along the way, until my hands just about froze to the camera and I made James take me down where it was warmer. I had read on a website the night before that we could get off the boat in the fishing village of Sariyer, then take a bus down to The Fortress of Europe, a stronghold built by Mehmet II during his historic Ottoman siege. We decided to try the fresh seafood in Sariyer, but I guess we weren’t prepared for how fresh. We had a bit of a “Christmas Story” moment (“The fish…it’s smiling at me.”), but we managed to pick around the bones and laugh about it later. The further from town you get, the less English people seem to speak, but we managed to find what we thought was the right bus to the fortress. Via Central Turkey, apparently. An hour later, we were standing on this beautiful precipice, looking down at one of the towers from the fortress. And no discernible way to get down. Never fear–after a couple of wrong turns and lots of dooooownhill streets, we managed to find the front door. We spent the rest of the afternoon sweating our way up and down these scary stone stairways, pretending we were Ottoman warriors under the command of the Sultan. Fun, fun!

Sunday, we made our way to the Mevlevi Monastery to get tickets to see the Whirling Dervishes, a sect of Islam called Sufism where they wear funny hats and twirl in circles in a meditative dance. The concert wasn’t until the afternoon, so we killed time taking photos from the top of the Galata Tower. Then we attempted to find the Para Palas Hotel, famed hotel where Agatha Christie was inspired to write Murder on the Orient Express, one of my all-time favorite books. But, strangely, the entire hotel looked like it was closed–perhaps under renovation. Disappointed and tired, we decided to rest up until the concert. The Whirling Dervishes turned out to be the highlight of the weekend–we learned all about the rites and rituals to becoming a Sufi, and the ceremony and music were highly entertaining. Very challenging to take photos of. After a filling dinner of lamb (yes, more lamb) and sweets, we headed down to Sultenahmet to take some nighttime photos of the Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque.

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