Day Thirty-Two: Istanbul sightseeing, part 2

With Hagia Sophia as my only specific destination, I set out again to Sultanahmet.

On the way I stopped for a sandwich. At many streetside vendors, when you order meat, it is cut off of a giant rotating pile of meat on a skewer:

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My sandwich also came with a cup of ayran, evidently Turkey’s national drink, which satisfied my desire to be an adventurous eater for the day. Imagine milk that has gone sour, watered down, with a tablespoon of salt added.

I decided to see whether any geocaches were around. There were; one tiny (but not nano) one was hidden under the railing of the bridge I was crossing. Its logbook showed that it had already been found the same day.

The Hagia Sophia itself is outside my scope to describe (as always with these things) but it is essentially a 6th-century Greek Orthodox cathedral that was converted to a mosque with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople about 800 years later and secularized to become a museum by Ataturk. During its time as a mosque all of the Christian mosaics were plastered over, but now many of them have been restored, while leaving the Muslim additions in place, resulting in a bizarre combination.

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Also part of the complex are several buildings housing tombs of sultans. They require visitors to remove their shoes, as in a mosque.

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The Sultanahmet district is teeming with sellers of Bosphorus boat tour ticket sellers, so I decided to give that a try. The printed price is 15 euros (yes, euros) but in about five seconds I got it down to 8. Perhaps still too high, but not bad for two hours on the water.

As we seemed to set out, we appeared to drift and/or motor aimlessly closer and closer to the rocks on the shore. Most of the tourists on board wondered out loud what was going on.

Playing chicken with a rock as a stalling tactic
Playing chicken with a rock as a stalling tactic

Actually, we were just dilly-dallying as they waited for more customers.

Very artistic selfie
Very artistic selfie

Although saying you were in the Bosphorus Straits is cool, the way they can manage to have a “tour” is because of the huge number of interesting buildings right along the shore on both sides. Unfortunately, I don’t really remember what any of them are.

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Or on neither side. This lighthouse is now a restaurant.

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On the shore I was surprised to see people selling turns to shoot at balloons.

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In 13 hours I’ll be on a plane to Tajikistan. Wish me luck.

Posted from Istanbul, Istanbul Province, Turkey.

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