On a personal note: Before I go into our final days in Istanbul, I want to comment on the current happenings in the city. It has taken me a long time to get all of our trip summarized on my blog. I know I’ve had some down time in between posts making my experiences there irrelevant during recent weeks, but hopefully not for forever. We were there in October and Istanbul is a beautiful, vibrant city saturated with history everywhere you look. While some parts have been modernized and some may be in need of it, there is a true feeling of past times there that I was incredibly blessed to get to experience. Not only does this mean a lot to me for the writing of my book but for the connection I feel to the city itself and the people there. From what I understand, they are currently protesting a severely conservative prime minister who has plans to destroy Taksim square as it has stood for many many years and to rebuild it as some kind of ribald theme park. This would a tragedy and my heart goes out to those brave people camping out in Taksim square, where we stayed not a year ago, to save it and, on a grander scale, save what their country stands for.
After our two days of tours, we were very exhausted and woke late. We still managed to get breakfast in the business lounge and then we headed back across the Galata bridge and into the historic district. Our mission was to discover where the small mosque serving as an entrance to the school in my book would be. We took a cab to the Blue Mosque area, ended up getting dropped off near the Suleymaniye Mosque. Quickly dodging through crazy large crowds of people in tight, winding streets, we headed for the Grand Bazaar. We would have preferred avoiding it altogether as it is clearly a giant mall/tourist trap, but we had to say we’d at least been there. We took a picture of the sign and ran through to the other side.
We found ourselves closer to the Blue Mosque after a big of a walk and a bathroom break at a McDonald’s. Near the back of the Mosque we found the Arasta Baazar, which was recommended to us over the Grand Baazar. It is a quiet little street lined with nice shops and we liked this much better. We checked out the bath products, tiles, pottery, rugs, etc. for sale and I got some souvenirs to take home to friends and family. We kept walking and ended up near the Little Hagia Sophia. It was a lovely little mosque tucked away in the quiet of a neighborhood and worked very well as inspiration for the location I needed for my book. It was open and we took off our shoes and went in to have a look around. I took lots of pictures. During our investigation, there was a call to prayer and we weren’t bothered at all as people came and did their thing. I kept expecting someone to stop us and ask what we were doing there, but everything was very chill.
As we began heading back, we stopped at a café that overlooked the water on the southern side of the peninsula.
We walked around till it got dark and took night pictures in the hippodrome area. We ate at a lovely rooftop restaurant overlooking the Blue Mosque, which is gorgeous at night. They have it all lit up and the view was breathtaking.
Everything was nice about the day except the cab drivers. Even though you know you are getting ripped off and call them on it, shouldn’t take 30 lira to get back when it took 12 to get there in the first place, you still end up having to pay them. The whole time we were there, I couldn’t figure out how not to get ripped off. What do you do, just try to pay them less after the ride? No clue. We were always careful to know exactly the bills we were handing over. On this evening, after ripping us off on the rate, the driver tried to say we’d given him a 5 instead of the 50 as Chris paid him. But Chris called him on it and everything was fine.
Otherwise, great day!