Posts tagged with 'Turkey'

One Basilica and Five Mosques

By Ross in Travel on Sat 07 June 2014. Tags: Turkey, mosques

Maybe it should be six mosques, since Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque after Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. In any case, I woke up early to get to Hagia Sophia when it opened at 0900, since I anticipated (correctly) that the lines would be long on Saturday. There were alrealy over 100 people in line in front of me before it even opened. The basilica and surrounding area is now a museum, and the entire site is currently under extensive renovation, including a giant scaffolding taking up most of one side of the nave. Even with this interloper, the space is still magnificent and awe-inspiring.

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I paid a visit to Constantine and Justinian on the way out.

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After a quick bite to eat, I visited the Sultan Ahmed mosque, popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles lining the inside. Here it is from the distance:

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After waiting in line for about half and hour, I removed my shoes, placed them in the provided plastic bag, and entered this impressive interior:

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The next mosque was the Sultan Sulieman mosque, which is the largest mosque in Istanbul:

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After passing through the Grand Bazaar, where I managed to not buy a single thing (I was accosted by relatively few salespeople, all things considered), I visited the Sezhade Mosque, also known as the Prince's Mosque, where I took this picture of the dome for my dome collection:

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I next walked through the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, where the crowds were much thicker than in the  Grand Bazaar, and wound up at the New Mosque on the other side. Here are pictures of the interior and some of the domes of that mosque.

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Finally, I walked back through the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, down one of the crowded market streets, up a set of stairs which were tucked out of the way so that they were almost impossible to locate, and into the Rustem Pasha Mosque. This is a much smaller, more intimate mosque, and is known for its exquisite blue tiles. It is a nice, quiet retreat from the bustling market below, and was the favorite of the mosques I have visited so far. I plan on visiting again before leaving Istanbul. Here is a picure of people praying (not during an official prayer time) and one of the dome.

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Not Constantinople

By Ross in Travel on Fri 06 June 2014. Tags: Turkey

Wish Turkish Lira in hand, I left the airport and took a bus to Taksim square. I then walked down Istiklal, one of the main streets of Beyoglu, towards my hostel. Istiklal is said to be one the busiest streets in the entire city, and is lined with all kinds of shops and restaurants. At most times it is packed with pedestrians, who must make way for the single-track trolley which meanders most of the length of Istiklal.

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My hostel is a few blocks from the main street, away from the throngs of tourists in a tiny street that looks like this:

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After settling in, I grabbed a quick bite to eat and walked the length of Istiklal down to the Golden Horn, where I got some great views of the Sulieman Mosque from across the water:

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In other news, my ATM card now works. Also since the WiFi here is slow and unreliable, I have found the Flickr Studio app to be great for uploading to Flickr, since it can resize photos appropiately.


Kerfuffles

By Ross in Travel on Fri 06 June 2014. Tags: Turkey

I am writing this entry in Ataturk airport while waiting for my bank to reactivate my ATM card. So everything was going swimmingly until I landed in Turkey. I had gotten an electronic visa ahead of time and placed a copy on my iPad per the instructions on the eVisa website. When I got to passport control, I learned that they require a paper copy; I talked to the people at the airline counter, and luckily they were able to look up my eVisa and print it out for me.

After that was resolved, customs was a breeze, and I headed straight to the ATM to get cash to pay for the bus to Istanbul as well as my hostel room. My card was declined by two different ATMs, even though I had given my bank a travel notification ahead of time. I had enough US dollars to purchase a phone card, and when I called my bank I found out that they had entered the wrong travel dates, so my premature foreign transaction flagged a fraud alert and disabled my card. Despite their promises to straight things up in 15 minutes, the card still would not work an hour later. I wound up doing a credit card cash advance (less than ideal, but USAA for the win, plus it's a chip and PIN card, which makes things in Europe much easier), and will call the bank again when I get to the hostel.

Lessons learned: print out all the things, and carry a reasonable amount of US dollars in case electronic things go awry.