Weekly Photo Challenge: Sign

I’m Back! We had the most wonderful time in Quebec City! More posts to come about Thanksgiving weekend in my favorite place! Won’t you join me? I’m ready for fall!

A Furrier Sign in Quebec City, Canada

A Furrier Sign in Quebec City, Canada

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The Blue Mosque and Neighborhood, Istanbul, Turkey

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Just like Rome, Istanbul’s Old Town is built on seven hills.  The district called Sultanahmet, on top of the first hill, is the historic city center. This site gave the Greeks control of three surrounding bodies of water; the Bosphorus Strait, the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. Leaving Hagia Sophia at one end of  Sultanahmet Park, we walk past the beautiful fountain where the arcs of water mimic the domes of Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanehmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Here the gardeners are busy planting new flowers in swirls of decorative display.

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

At the opposite end of the park is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque, noted for the interior of blue paint and 20,000 rich, blue, handmade, ceramic tiles in fifty different tulip designs. The tiles at the lower level are traditional in design while the tiles at gallery level are flamboyant with exquisite flowers, fruit and cypresses. The upper floors are dominated by blue paint and more than 200 stained glass windows with intricate designs. In addition to the natural light there are massive chandeliers. Ostrich eggs were placed on the chandeliers to repel spiders and prevent cobwebs inside the mosque.

The Courtyard of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

The Courtyard of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

A Chandelier Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

A Chandelier Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

The Sultan’s Tale goes like this.

The Blue Mosque was built in six years from 1609-1616 by the architect, Mehmet Aga, who also built the giant black cube at the center of the mosque in Mecca, the holiest shrine of Islam. Sultan Ahmet I  (1590-1617) ascended the thrown at the age of 14 and his greatest achievement was the construction of the Blue Mosque. To prevent future conflicts it was customary for a new sultan to kill his closest brother. Ahmet went against tradition and spared his brother Mustafa’s life. After Ahmet’s death from typhoid at the age of 28, in 1617, his 11 year old son Murat IV, became sultan and had his younger brother, Prince Beyazit strangled, which ended the new tradition and reverted to the old. Murat’s mother, Kösem, was one of the most influential women of her time. Following Ahmet’s death, for nearly a decade Kösem ruled the empire without intrusion because Murat IV,  now the the sultan, ruled at such a young age. When Murat died, Kösem placed her grandson, Mehmet, as the next sultan. Mehmet’s mother, tired of Kösem’s domination, had Kösem strangled in her sleep by the eunuchs. And so the story goes.

Outside the Blue Mosque are six minarets. Only one is needed.  The imam (prayer leader) or muezzin (a man noted for his talent in voicing the call to prayer) would climb to the top of the minaret five times a day to announce the call. Sultan Ahmet requested six minarets, to flaunt his wealth, but since there were six in Mecca, he had a seventh built in Mecca, as not to upstage the holy shrine.

A Minaret of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

A Minaret of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Right outside the Blue Mosque is the Hippodrome, the spot for chariot races and a place where people gathered for social and religious disputes, political clashes and violent uprisings. Today there are market stalls here and at night families gather to eat and party.

The Hippodrome, Istanbul, Turkey

The Hippodrome, Istanbul, Turkey

The Hippodrome, Istanbul, Turkey

The Hippodrome, Istanbul, Turkey

The Hippodrome, Istanbul, Turkey

The Hippodrome Market Stalls, Istanbul, Turkey

Eating at Sutanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Eating at Sutanahmet Park, Istanbul, Turkey

The Egyptian Obelisk was carved 1500 years before the birth of Christ to honor the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III, and to commemorate his military achievements. The obelisk was brought here from the Upper Nile and is only the upper one third of the original massive stone block. The base of the block was cut of local marble and the four sides tell the story of Theodosius the Great, and his family, as they sat here watching the chariot races at the Hippodrome.

The Egyptian Obelisk, Istanbul, Turkey

The Egyptian Obelisk, Istanbul, Turkey

The Column of Constantine was constructed in Istanbul. It was originally sheeted with bronze panels, but in the Fourth Crusade, (early 13th century) the city was looted and the panels stripped to make weaponry.

The Column of Constantine, Istanbul, Turkey

The Column of Constantine, Istanbul, Turkey

The Column of the Serpent was a victory monument dedicated to the 31 Greek city-states to commemorate their victory over the Persians at Plataea. (479 BC)  Originally, this column showed three serpents twisted together, their heads supporting a golden trophy. The golden trophy is long gone and only the jaw of one snake still exists and it is in the Istanbul Archeological Museum. The Hippodrome also was the place of the famous four cast-bronze horses from ancient Greece. During the 4th Crusade they were plundered and taken to Venice, where they now reside at St Mark’s Basilica.  (See a photo of them in my Venice posts)

The Column of the Serpent, Istanbul, Turkey

The Column of the Serpent, Istanbul, Turkey

The German Fountain was a gift from the German government to commemorate Kaiser Wilhelm II’s visit to Istanbul in 1898. It was constructed in Germany and transfered in pieces to Istanbul in 1901 and re-assembled on this location.

The German Fountain, Istanbul, Turkey

The German Fountain, Istanbul, Turkey

The Divan Yolu was the main thoroughfare in Byzantine times.  The road started right here where the Golden Milestone still stands in a pit. 1500 years ago this was considered the point of the center of the world and it showed the distances to key locations within the empire.

The Tram Station at Divan Yolu, Istanbul, Turkey

The Tram Station at Divan Yolu, Istanbul, Turkey

The Golden Milestone, Istanbul, Turkey

The Golden Milestone, Istanbul, Turkey

Below ground, the Underground Cistern, was a vast reservoir that held  water reserves for ever growing Istanbul. The cistern covers an area of two football fields and could hold 27 million gallons of fresh water. 336 columns support the brick ceiling, most of them coming from earlier Roman ruins. Clay pipes and aqueducts carried the water twelve miles to this cistern. Today the cistern is open to the public.  The cistern is a shallow pond with a walkway around it. At the exit of the cistern a stage is in the water and serves as an exhibition hall for art festivals and concerts!

Underground Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

Underground Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

Underground Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

Underground Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ancient Columns in the Underground Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ancient Columns in the Underground Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

Underground Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

Underground Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

I hope you enjoyed the day at the Blue Mosque!

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Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A Restaurant on the way to Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A Restaurant on the Way to Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A Restaurant on the way to Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Another Look of the Restaurant on the Way to Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Walk Past the Turkish Delight Store, Istanbul, Turkey

Walk Past the Turkish Delight and Bakery, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Holy Wisdom, has been called the greatest house of worship in the Christian and Muslim worlds: Hagia Sophia, the Great Church of Constantinople, a Greek Orthodox basilica, was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in A.D. 537 over the remains of two churches. More than 5,000 architects, stonemasons, bricklayers, plasterers, sculptors, painters and mosaic artists worked around the clock for 5 years to complete the church. People came from all over the world to watch the great dome slowly rise above the landscape and for a 1000 years it was the greatest dome in the world until the Renaissance when Brunelleschi built the dome over the Duomo, in Florence, Italy.  In 1204 it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral. It remained the largest cathedral for nearly 1000 years until the Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.  In  1453 Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who ordered the main church be converted into a mosque. The relics were removed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, His mother Mary, Christian saints and angels were removed or plastered over. Islamic features and the minarets were added. In 1935, the first Turkish president, and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, transformed the building into a museum.  The carpets were removed and the marble floor decorations appeared for the first time in centuries, while the white plaster covering many of the mosaics was removed, revealing the beautiful mosaics still intact.  The plaster had actually preserved them.

Today, Hagia Sophia is a beautiful museum, featuring the best of Christian and  Muslim architecture.

After going through tight security and inspection let’s look at this wonder of the world!

The Fountain at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Fountain at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ottomans added this fountain in the 18th century, when Hagia Sophia was used as a mosque. It was used for ablution, ritual cleansing before prayer, as part of Islamic traditions.

A View of the Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A View of the Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A View in the Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A View in the Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A View in the Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A View in the Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Courtyard of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Rooftop Views from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Rooftop Views from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Decorative Pieces  Taken from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Decorative Pieces Taken from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Decorative Pieces  Taken from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Decorative Pieces Taken from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Original Baptismal Pool, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Original Baptismal Pool, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Unearthed in 2010, the immense baptismal pool was hewn out of a massive piece of marble. More than ten feet wide and four feet deep, the pool was used for communal baptisms common in early Christianity.

Intricate Gold Lace Partitions, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Intricate Gold Lace Partitions, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Marble Tiles, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Marble Tiles and Calligraphy, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Huge Chandeliers, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Huge Chandeliers, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The green marble columns carry the upper galleries and provide support to the domes, easing the burden of the buttresses and exterior walls.

Inside Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Inside Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Many of the marble columns were brought here from other, even more ancient monuments and temples.

The Nave of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Nave of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Nave of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Nave of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

To get a perspective of the size of the Nave, Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral would fit within Hagia Sophia’s great dome.

One of Many Icons in Hagia, Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

One of Many Icons in Hagia, Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Icon in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Icon in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Icon over Doorway, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Icon over Doorway, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The religious use of icons, depictions of human figures in mosaics, frescoes and other art forms, were very controversial throughout Byzantine history. Church and political leaders clashed over icons. The public liked the figures, and since most people at the time could not read, these pictures told the stories of the church teachings and emperors used them to bolster their claim to divine power, often depicting themselves as holy figures.

One of Two Winged Seraphims, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

One of Two Winged Seraphims, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

s in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Medallions and Mimber in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The mimber is the pulpit in a mosque used by the imam to deliver a sermon on Fridays or to talk to the public on special occasions. The imam stands halfway up the stairs as a sign of respect, reserving the uppermost step for the Prophet Muhammad.

The 24-foot-wide, leather wrapped, wooden medallions, were added in the 19th century and decorated by master calligraphers. In a church you see paintings of Biblical figures and saints, however in a mosque, which allows no depictions of people, you see ornately written names of Allah and Muhammad.

The Exit of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Exit of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

 

Stone Pieces in the Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Stone Pieces in the Courtyard, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

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The Boat Tour of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, Istanbul, Turkey

On the Boat Tour, Istanbul, Turkey

On the Boat Tour, Istanbul, Turkey

We are out on the boat tour on the third part of the Bosphorus and Golden Horn Tours! It is a beautiful day to sit in the sun and enjoy the ride!  Take your sun lotion! I named the spots that I knew and the rest of the time I was gabbing with my new Australian friends! It is a good way to see all the old and new in Istanbul, eyeing the beautiful homes and palaces along the shore. They certainly love their yachts! Enjoy!

The Start of the Tour at the Docks, Istanbul, Turkey

The Start of the Tour at the Docks, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Restaurant Lined The Galata Bridge, Isanbul, Turkey

Restaurant Lined Galata Bridge, Istanbul, Turkey

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkey

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkey

The Cruise Ships Have Landed!, Istanbul, Turkey

The Cruise Ships Have Landed!, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Ciragan Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Ciragan Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Beautiful Homes Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

Beautiful Homes Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

More Yachts, Istanbul, Turkey

More Yachts, Istanbul, Turkey

The Yachts Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

The Yachts Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ducks, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ducks, Istanbul, Turkey

Private Yachts are All Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

More Boats are All Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

Rumeli Castles (1452), Istanbul, Turkey

Rumeli Castles (1452), Istanbul, Turkey

Baylerbeyi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Baylerbeyi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Kuleli Military School, Istanbul, Turkey

Kuleli Military School, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Ciragan Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

 Istanbul, Turkey

Kiz Kulesi, Istanbul, Turkey

Kiz Kulesi, Istanbul, Turkey

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The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Part 2,  of the “My Best Tip of Istanbul, Turkey” post continues. We are walking  from Pierre Loti Hill down through the Eyüp Cemetery to the boat docked at the pier, that will take us around the Golden Horn. Our tour guide from the Blue Brothers Tours tells us interesting facts and stories about the cemetery and the grave markers.  This is what I learned.

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery is the most sacred cemetery in Istanbul. The mosque was erected by Mehmet the Conqueror, over the tomb of Halid bin Zeyd Ebu Eyyüp, known as Sultan Eyüp, the standard bearer for the prophet Mohammed, also the last survivor of his inner circle of trusted friends.  Sultan Eyüp, while serving as a commander of the Arab forces during the siege of 688 to 659 was killed and buried on the outskirts of Istanbul. One of the conditions of peace, after the Arab siege, was that the tomb of Eyüp be preserved. A little village of tombs blossomed on the site by those seeking Sultan Eyüp’s intervention in the hereafter, and it is still considered a privilege to be buried in the nearby cemeteries. Today it costs more than $50,000 to be buried here. To most people in Turkey that is equivalent to buying a home.

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The tombstones reveal a lot about the people buried beneath them. The older grave markers, those before 1829, are long narrow markers with tops shaped like a turban for the men. The turban represents a pasha; a high ranking person of the Ottoman Empire or a prominent military man, or the turban of a Dervish order. The green painted turbans represent the burial of an Imam. After 1929, the fez shaped hat replaced the pasha turban on the grave markers. The tombstones shaped like a sword represent a soldier.

The Turbans, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Turbans, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Imam, The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Soldier Marker, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Soldier, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The older tombstone markings were written in Arabic. After WWI, when the Ottoman Empire was divided into several new states, and following the Turkish War of Independence, (1919-1922) Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, established the Republic of Turkey, with himself as its first president. The Arabic language was out and the Turkish language was designated the official language. This caused a great deal of confusion in Turkey because for several generations the older people spoke Arabic while the children learned Turkish in schools.

For women, the top of the grave marker can be a tiara, noting a princess, or a head-dress represented by flowers, most often the rose. The number of roses depicts how many children the woman had and the opened rose means the child was still living at the time of her death and if the rose is closed, a child has preceded her in death.

A Woman's Marker, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

A Woman’s Marker, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

At one spot in the cemetery are two markers for two women separated my an empty hole between them. The guide tells the story of two wives of one man. Muslims are allowed four wives. Well in this situation there was the older wife and the much younger wife and all the headaches that could possibly be created between the two women. One day the women decided to end the bickering and their unhappiness by killing the husband. The two women were hung for their crime, and buried in the cemetery plots that their husband had provided for them. However, since it is shameful in Muslim culture to be killed by a woman, the husband was not allowed to be buried there, hence the hole.

Two Women, No Man, Eyüp Cemetery, Isatnbul, Turkey

Two Women, No Man, Eyüp Cemetery, Isatnbul, Turkey

 Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Also, it is popular to have written messages from the deceased placed on the tombstone. Here are some that have been translated.

Stopping his ears with his fingers Judge Mehmut died off from the beautiful world, leaving his wife’s cackling and his mother in law’s gabbing.

O passers by spare me your prayers, but please don’t steal my tombstone.

I could have died as well without a doctor than with that quack that my friends set upon me.

Enjoy!  We are now approaching the boat! Stay tuned for more!

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My Best Travel Tip for Istanbul, Turkey

Pierre Loti

Pierre Loti

On arrival at Hotel Sultania, we were offered a choice of tours to review. We usually prefer to explore on our own, but one tour looked so interesting and the price VERY reasonable, so we decided to do it. I am glad we did, it was one of the best tours we have ever been on!  It was the Bosphorus and Golden Horn Boat Tour. But, it was so much more than that!

The 4 hour guided tour, for 20 euros each, included two hours on a boat touring the Bosphorus, to see the palaces along the shore, and the two hour, “Golden Horn Tour”, which included the historical heart of the city and the the Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul harbors.   In addition, there was a stop at Pierre Loti. The tour also includes picking you up and dropping you off at your hotel at the end of the tour. This is really good because I have been on tours where the tour ended and we had no idea where we were, and had to take a cab back to our hotel. A real bummer!  This tour was excellent!

Since Hotel Sultania is located on a pedestrian-only street we walked one street over with the guide, who came to get us, and realized the bus was waiting for us on the corner. Since it was Ramadan, our guide announced, we would be doing the tour backwards, going to Pierre Loti first. I didn’t know what Pierre Loti was, I thought possibly it was the name of the boat docking area, so I just settled in talking to two Australian women and enjoying the scenery along the way when……….

Following a 15 minute ride we stopped and got off the bus at a funicular on the side of a steep hill overlooking the water. The guide paid our funicular fee and we started up the hill in small glass lifts that offered a beautiful view of the Sea of Marmara on one side and a cemetery on the other. I thought, “Where in the world are we going?”

The View from Pierre Loti

The View from Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

Up the Hill to the Shops at Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

Up the Hill to the Shops at Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

The Restaurant at Pierre Lodi, Istanbul, Turkey

The Pierre Loti Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Steps up to the Shops at Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

The Steps up to the Shops at Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

At the top was a cluster of shops and tables of the Pierre Loti Restaurant (sadly not serving meals because of Ramadan), but the waiters offered soft drinks to us as we admired one of the most beautiful views in Istanbul! We sat at red-checked draped tables under the trees and enjoyed the views with several guests. This is a very popular spot in the city for tourists and the locals.

A View from Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

Another View from Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

Another View from Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

Another View from Pierre Loti, Istanbul, Turkey

As we looked out over the Bosphorus, we observed through the view finder on our cameras, a boat making it’s way to the boat dock well below and away from our magnificent perch on the hill.

The Tour Boat at the Dock, Istanbul, Turkey

The Tour Boat in the Distance at the Dock, Istanbul, Turkey

Up Close and Personal, The Tour Boat

Up Close and Personal, The Tour Boat

I seem to remember making a comment that would come back to haunt me, “Well at least we don’t have to walk all the way to the boat.” Soon our guide called us together and told the first story. He would reveal the story of Pierre Loti. Oh, I love stories! I was captivated!

Pierre Loti, a pseudonym for Julien Viand, was a French novelist and naval officer, who wrote books about exotic spots he visited during his naval career and throughout his lifetime. His noted first works were tales of his love affairs; love, death and despair. Other books were travel guides presenting beautiful tales of Islamic life in countries before the exploitation of tourists.

In 1879, he wrote his first book, Aziyadé. It was a story of a love affair between a 27 year-old man with a “Circassian”, harem girl of 18. Many believe this was semi-autobiographical, based on a diary Loti kept during the fall and winter of 1876. Here is the Turkish interpretation of the story as told by our guide.

While Loti was serving in the military in Istanbul, he met and fell in love with a beautiful Circassian woman. They would meet secretly on this hill high above the city. Her family would not approve of her marrying a non-muslim and they were both in turmoil over this.  Aziyadé suggested they run away together and go to France, where he could marry her. The only problem; he had not been quite honest with her, because he was already married and his wife was in France!  After a few months and several meetings in their secret meeting place he did leave, without her. When she believed he was never coming back she married the person her family had chosen for her.

He did come back several years later and was distraught that she had married!  Really, men! Their liaison started up once again, up on the hill. Eventually, her husband suspected something was up and when he found out about her affair with Loti, he killed her. Short and not sweet. Pierre Loti wore a gold ring with her name, etched on the inside, for the rest of his life.  The hill is now a popular overlook of the city, with a restaurant and more shops up the hill, but we are headed down the cobbled path along the edges of the Eyüp Mosque and Cemetery.

The Eyüp Cemetery, istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Fauna at Eyüp Mosque and Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Flora at Eyüp Mosque and Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Yes, I said that right, we’re walking to the boat! The next story better be another good one! It’s about the cemetery and who are buried there!  We’ re off!

Follow me, won’t you, as we explore on the rest of the tour?  Enjoy!

For the Bosphorus Tours; Short and Full see:

Blue Brothers Travel Agency

For reservation please contact your travel agency or hotel concierge.

Alemdar Mah. Alaykosku Cad No 17 D Cagaloglu, Istanbul, Turkey

Tel: 90 (0212) 528 73 74

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Istanbul: A City of Contrasts

Hotel Sultania

Hotel Sultania

There are so many planes landing in Istanbul, resulting in not enough gates for them to pull up to. This is the hub between Europe and the Middle East. The workers roll metal stairs to the plane’s exits and down you step; just like in the old movies! A bus awaits to whisk you off to the terminal. Getting a cab to the hotel I was pleasantly surprised to see gardens and gardens of ornately designed floral sculptures; bright contrasting swirls of color in bright poppy reds, pure white, and glossy greens. They were the “Whirling Dervishes” of the landscape and I wondered about the work that went into maintaining them. I couldn’t take pictures that would be any good, through the cab’s window, but vowed I would take pictures of them before I left Istanbul! Istanbul is a contrast and mix of old world and modern, european and middle eastern. I was fascinated with the sights along the way!

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

A Glimpse of the Old and New, Istanbul, Turkey

A Glimpse of the Old and New, Istanbul, Turkey

Entering Old Town the cab drivers wait two seconds before they start blowing their horns for the traffic to move! We would later learn that when the traffic is excessive, cabbies refuse to pick up passengers in this area, because they are stuck and not able to move at all. As we got to the vicinity of our hotel we stopped on a narrow, crowded street that our hotel was not located on, and told this was our stop. I was doubtful, until a bellman, opened our cab door, quickly took our luggage and said, “follow me.”  We walked down a cobbled street, turned left, where old men sat in an alcove smoking and talking, and scurried after our bellman to the Hotel Sultania; located at the corner of two intersecting lanes that were pedestrian only.

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Tiny Corner Intersection of Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Tiny Corner Intersection of Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Cross Street of  Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Cross Street of Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

A Look at Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

A Look at Old Town, Istanbul, Turkey

Here we are in walking distance to Hagia Sophia; a church and mosque museum, the Blue Mosque, and the Topkapi Palace: all in the Sultanahmet Area. The streets are a mixture of old world and new, with elegant restaurants, hotels and shopping, scattered among alcoves of old brick ovens manned by bakers providing a bubbly flatbread and shops of carpet/rug lined sitting areas, where the guests smoke hookahs. Men outside the restaurants and establishments, encourage, intimidate, aggressively pursue you to try their wares. It is so alive!  Oh, this is going to be fun!!

Entering the Hotel Sultania, we were warmly greeted at the concierge desk and and made aware of the popular attractions and local events that will be occurring during Ramadan.

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

We were told some places may be closed during the day, but at night the city comes to life, especially at Gülhane Park, where there will be partying after dark. We were shown the indoor/ outdoor breakfast room at one end of the lobby and a rooftop restaurant, one of the best in the city, not to be missed. Then taking another elevator, we were lead to our room. Oh my! I have been in several hotels in Europe, but this was one of the most opulent, depicting a room fit for one of the Sultan’s wives.

The Olga Hatun Room, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Olga Hatun Room, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

Our room was named after Olga Hatun, seventeen year old wife to Sultan Bayezid, also known as Thunderbolt. The room was huge with a terrace overlooking the old city and the Bosphorus Strait. HOWEVER, best of all was the extra large, marbled bathroom and a shower that would easily fit four people!

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

The Turkish Delight Candy and a Note about Olga Hatun, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

A Tin of Turkish Delight Candy and a Parchment Note about Olga Hatun, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

All the Amenities, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

All the Amenities, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey ( The Mirror is a Flat Screen TV, Don’t Ask Me How This is Done!)

Marble Everywhere!, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

Marble Everywhere!, Hotel Sultania, Istanbul, Turkey

A Square Toilet? Hotel Sultainia, Istanbul, Turkey

A Square Toilet? Hotel Sultainia, Istanbul, Turkey

Unbelievable! After settling in we couldn’t wait to explore our new surroundings!

The Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The New Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

 

The Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The New Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The New Hatay Restaurant is an outdoor restaurant right outside our hotel.  The hosts, stand outside the restaurant, and pull everyone aside, who will listen, to encourage you to look at their menu and food.  I was enthralled with the bread!  Men brought the combination puffy/flat bread from a brick oven nearby that had a line of patrons waiting for the fresh, scorched bread. Then there was the food, so colorful, so exotic looking! And they served wine! Need I say more? We had to try this place first ! A good way to end our first day! Enjoy!

The Bread! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Bread! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Food! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Food! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Color! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Color! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Color! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

More Color! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

The Food! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

Fresh Fish! Hatay Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey

Posted in Destinations, Food, Istanbul, Lodging, Photo Travel Themes, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge

There are cruises from Venice, Italy to Istanbul, Turkey.  Many of the guests at the Locanda Orseola in Venice were taking a ship to Istanbul.  This comparison of ships gives you an idea of how HUGE the cruise ships can be! Enjoy!

Get To Istanbul by Cruise Ship!

Get To Istanbul by Cruise Ship!

Posted in Destinations, Istanbul, Photo Travel Themes, Travel Prep, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Word a Week: Public Transportation

Instead of sitting on a bench, plop down on your favorite toadstool at the bus stops in Istanbul, Turkey!

Toad Stools at Bus Stops, Istanbul, Turkey

Toad Stools at Bus Stops, Istanbul, Turkey

Posted in Istanbul, Photo Travel Themes, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure

Where will your adventure begin? We’re in Istanbul! Enjoy!

Adventure in Istanbul, Turkey

Adventure in Istanbul, Turkey

Posted in Destinations, Istanbul, Photo Travel Themes, Turkey | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments