Day two in Istanbul, Turkey

We went to a few places today. The Hippodrome, the Hagi Sophia, Sultanahmet Blue mosque, and the sultans palace, Topkapi Palace. I took so many photos of the tiles and painting in the buildings. I know there is a quilt in this somewhere.
When I pictured the Hippodrome I pictured something like the coliseum in Rome. Well it was nothing like that. It looks like a cobbled street with the three obelisk in the middle. Each of the obelisk are different, one was a plain one that at one time it was covered in silver, one had writing on it, and one was a twisted piece called the snake. Hawkers of tourist books, children’s toys, pomegranate fresh squeezed juice were every where. Our guide’s English was not the greatest but….okay. I am not sure but he might have said the races run in the Hippodrome were maybe underground, how that occurred I am not sure, but like I said we may have misunderstood what he was saying.
We then went to the Blue mosque. One of the three thousand mosque ( or more) in the city. It has an abundance of blue hand painted tiles used to decorate the interior. We were required to cover our heads with a scarf in the building and take off our shoes. The interior was stunning. The paintings and tile work reminded me of some of the European cathedrals I have seen. The amount of people going through the buildings was astounding. They kept the pace quick but I am really glad we went early in the morning. Tours everywhere, the variety of languages spoken is amazing. I haven’t heard that many dialects since living in DC.
The next building was the Sophia museum. At one time it was an Orthodox Church, then a mosque and now a museum. When the building became a mosque they painted the pictures over with cement, now that it is a museum they are removing the cement slowly to revel the pictures below the cents. They are so stunning. The gold and condition of the paintings of that age always catch me off guard. The colors are so vibrant still!
The last place we went was the sultans palace. There we went through three guard doors, three gardens ( the size of a football field) to the interior. Everyone from the harem, servants, guards all lived in the palace. Everyone ate the same food, the kitchen was a huge building. The harem housed over four hundred rooms. The doors of the palace were at least sixteen feet. They slide open on a wooden dowel in the floor, almost like our sliding glass doors, but on a curve. There is a stone wall around the old city and are in better condition in some parts than others. Here at the palace section it was in great shape. I think our tour guide was tired of talking and his explanation of this building was minimal so I have some reading to do to connect what I saw with the background history of the place.
Today we are off to a boat trip, in the rain. Ought to be interesting. It is I the high sixties and has rained since about five last night. I have not seen rain since July or cool temps since, May or April . This is a very nice change I just wish I had shoes that weren’t sandals. I forget the weather is changing, it is very constant in the dessert. Well, it is in the 90’s instead of 100’s now. Before last night we had very blue skies and lovely days, so I am enjoying the change. One almost feel likes it is fall right now. Leaves from the trees are on the ground and like Houston they may not be lovely colors but are brown and yellow, but they are falling and one can shuffle their feet in the leaves on the ground and get that particular scent of fall. There are parks in the section of where we are staying, some more famous than others. I can see why the residents want to keep them. The city is very friendly to walking, or Liz and I like to walk. We have walked quite a bit and I was less tired doing that than doing the tours. I think the tours are harder because you are not doing a steady walk but stand and listen, shuffle forward for a bit. By the end of the afternoon it was very busy with tour groups and others on holiday. This is a friendly town but I don’t think I would walk around by myself, I am glad I have a friend with me.

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