Sunny and cool in the morning. Perfect for our day tour of the city walls and several sites outside the city walls: 7 towers fortress, Chora Church, Eyup Mosque, and Pierre Loti hilltop. Place that are difficult to get to w/o a car. After only an hour into the tour with our 4 other companions I started to go numb with the information overload. I detest listening to narration of historical events when I'd rather be rambling and roaming.
I want to know about the thousands of names of Allah, what the calligraphy says, more about the call to prayer. I'm fascinated by this world that is different than the one I inhabit in Los Angeles. I tried to pay attention, but my efforts failed. She spoke, our guide, but all I heard was, blah blah blah. The Eyup Sultan Mosque was my favorite stop along the rushed tour. It is considered the 2nd place of pilgimage after Mecca for Moslems. I found it distractingly beautiful. I could stare at the Arabic calligraphy on the walls for hours. There was not a single other western tourist here.
Today the mosque was filled to the brim with women in head scarves, some in full robes with only their eyes and nose showing. We donned our own scarves, removed our shoes and stepped inside. An enormous ring of blue glass globes hung low in the middle of the praying area for men.
Carol and I have noticed how soft and velvety all the carpet is inside the mosques we've been in so far. We think they must change it often in the Blue Mosque to keep it so fresh. Bare feet or not that's a lot of foot traffic!
Pierre Loti hill was charming, but again we were only allotted 15 minutes for tea. Rush, rush, rush. I'm glad this is our only tour the entire trip. Tours are not a good fit for a piddler like me who must be unleashed to wander freely. I can't experience a place as vast as Istanbul by ingesting facts.
Everywhere we go there are cats and kittens. Some better fed than others. We did our duty and have given a portion of all meals to the cats who have visited while we're eating. These have to be the most relaxed cats in the world. They sleep on cars, ledges, sidewalks, stoops and walk unhurriedly from place to place.
Bought tokens and got on tram to funicular. The tram was like a big sardine can. Packed to capacity when it arrived with every car filled, yet somehow the 50 people crowding the platform are supposed to squeeze on anyway. I told Sister, "Get behind me, grab my shirt, and don't let go!" She grabbed my hand instead and I pulled her through the mob and onto the tram. Tight fit doesn't describe. The funicular ride was much easier and we got seats. Up to Taxsim Square then walked home down streets that were at first grimy then tree lined and draped with grape vine garlands and ivy. All the way back to Cihangir. All the way back down the 103 steps we have to climb twice a day. It's worth the pain in my tuckus to be in this neighborhood. I will try to suffer with dignity. At least, as Sister says, these stairs are not spiral, leaning, and slippery like the ones in the Paris apartment!
More of the travel journal coming soon!
I found THIS site to feed some of my curiosity. Good stuff. Maybe if more people knew about Islam they would be less hostile to the mosque being built near ground zero in NYC.