Greece and Turkey 2012


ISTANBUL, day 3 of 3       10-8-12

The final day of our tour is typical of all our tours. We have been away a long time, the journey home will be long and trying ,and we are leaving early. Tomorrow the wake-up call is at 4:30 AM. To make the day more interesting, the power was cut in the hotel from 12 to 3 PM. We were told in advance it would happen but weren't given any details on why. After we were escorted up the stairs by one of the hotel staff using a flashlight and were walking down the hall, the lights came back on. It was before 3 so the timing was perfect.

Istanbul Day 3Our first stop today was the Blue Mosque. Our guide talked us out of going to the Mosque yesterday (too many tourists at the point in the day we'd be able to go there) but we figured that we would not be returning to Istanbul any time soon and we should see what everyone says is a must. Istanbul Day 3It turned out to be a good call.

The Mosque is quite large and imposing. We had to take off our shoes and put them in plastic bags before we went in (shades of TSA at the airport!). It was, as promised, crowded. But the inside of the structure was so amazing that it was worth it. The dome is supported on only four pillars that are the largest pillars that I have ever seen. Stained glass windows and blue tile are everywhere. These decorative elements are possible because those four huge pillars bear the weight of the dome and the outside walls don't have to. It was a short visit but totally worthwhile.

We then went to the Grand Bazaar. We must be tired or something because neither CC nor I found it very impressive. It was large and crowded but not as noteworthy as the Bazaar in Morocco. A lot of tourist items - in fact, reminiscent of Tijuana. I am not sure how they all make a Istanbul Day 3living when store after store selling what looks like the exact same thing are side by side. On a personal point. I used to shop for clocks for a store back when I was getting my PhD. I became acquainted with the pocket watch that chimed the time, called a Repeater. The watch and the chimes were useful in the days when it was not convenient to check the time when you awakened at night. There were two Repeater watches in the bazaar (they are now extremely rare in the US) and the price they wanted for them was, interestingly, the same as the price for these time pieces 40 to 50 years ago in the US. No, I didn't buy one.

We then ate lunch at a remarkable store built by a Turkish couple who had both gone to MIT, patented a computer-related device, sold the patent for millions, and decided to come back to Turkey and build a store to showcase very high end Turkish products. It was sleek and modern and angular. On three of the six floors there was an opening on one side that had a three-story inside vertical garden. We had lunch on one of the floors and CC looked at the various offerings (from jewelry to art) as she and the guide walked down to the ground floor. Good thing CC wasn't in a buying mood.

To finish the day off early, we drove around a more modern part of the downtown and returned to the hotel to pack and get ready for tomorrow. The timing was good because it had just started to drizzle. We have had picture perfect weather for the entire trip but even this overcast and sprinkle was fun. As the guide said, in a few short days we have been able to experience both summer and fall in Istanbul!

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