Thanks, Questa -- I appreciate your understanding. As for the question, no idea and I hate to even think about it, much less speculate.
I would say one of the best days I had in Istanbul was the day we went to see the Suleymaniye Mosque. The mosque itself is a wonder, as is the whole area surrounding it. Then, on the way back to Taksim, we came across something modern and marvelous. But first, the mosque.
Bixa, I totally understand your respectful withholding of your ongoing report because of the tragic events there, but I'm so happy you decided to continue sharing your delightful images with us. The depth of history and culture in such a vibrant city is something I can only compare in my personal experience with Rome--a point I may well have already made in this thread. I could happily drink up another 50 pages of these wonderful portraits of Istanbul, so please don't hold back! I'll be in Venice next week for my first time, another albeit much smaller city with perhaps a similar depth of cultural and architectural patrimony, and your report here has inspired me to try to emulate your effort here. If I even come close, I'll be very happy.
Oh I'm so happy to see the interior of that humungous mosque! You have done yourself proud clicking away Bixa - tremendous photos. It looks empty?? Did you go at a good time then?
The kitty cats would distress me. I suddenly hope the veternarians are doing their bit and neutering some males and checking others for disease. I hate to see animals suffer but I do understand that they probably keep the rat population down....to some degree but if being fed will only hunt if hungry. Poor kitties.
What is that woman in the window making? She certainly is doing a very clean and precise job....and has one of my plastic containers!!
Definitely a visual wonderland. When I see the multitude of electric lamps in those mosques, it makes me wonder if there were just as many oil or gas lamps before electricity, which leads me to imagine ceilings shrouded in smoke and dark smudges on the mosaics... or maybe they were just a lot darker.
Fumobici, you are way too kind -- thank you! I cannot wait to see your report on Venice. I had a tentative plan to go there this summer, but decided that it would be much nicer to go some other time of year. Venice and Istanbul are linked in my mind because of their similar histories of might, as trading crossroads, and their general layers of mystery and exoticism. Enjoy yourself despite my envy.
Thank you so much, Tod. The place was not empty, but definitely not full of people either. You can see how many fewer people there were in the outer courtyard compared to the throngs at the Blue Mosque. I haven't looked up statistics, but I imagine that the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi get most of the traffic. Their proximity to each other and their location make them ideal for visitors with limited time. Most of the stray dogs we saw had red tags in their ears indicating that they'd been sterilized. None seemed skinny, unhealthy, or hostile to humans. I didn't see any puppies, but I saw many kittens, so there seems to be work cut out in that area. The zillions of cats were also in good condition and not bothered by humans as all. I wish I knew what the lady was making. Language shortcomings are frustrating! I'll tell her to return your container the next time I see her.
I appreciate your lovely words very much, Casimira. There is a documentary about the Istanbul cats you might like to look up. It's called "Kedi -- aka Nine Lives". That rabbit sighting is something to treasure and wonder over forever!
I imagine you're right about the darkness and smudges, Kerouac. I believe the big chandeliers in the mosques are original but adapted for electricity. Even though it meant struggling for a clear picture sometimes, I appreciated the fact that the place wasn't lit up like a stage. Thank you for the kind compliment.
The views from the mosque grounds were stupendous ~
As you can tell by the last picture, it was getting late & time for us to wend our way back to Beyoğlu. We encountered a great surprise on the way there, which I'll show when I come back from walking my dogs.
The bunnies are the bread winners for their families. They sit with Dad and people pay money for the rabbit to select a slip of paper from the nearby box. On this is written the person's fortune, advice or encouraging messages. I just settled for a stroke of the rabbits, really in good condition.
Htmb, thank you! You make such consistently interesting and beautifully photographed threads, I truly treasure such a compliment from you.
Thank you, Questa. No, I just use my little hand-held camera and it doesn't always come through in bad light. You can see the stained glass pictures are not really good.
I felt like that pigeon as I gazed over two continents -- as though I had the world at my feet. I never saw the rabbits when I was in Istanbul.
Now, as I head homeward (or hotelward) in thread time, we also head toward the end of this report, so bear with me, please.
Sometimes a little ignorance is as much fun as knowing about something. Certainly the surprise of coming upon this place was a great pleasure, even if I didn't know what it was until later. We were a little unsure of our route home, and got off the subway here ~
Little did we know back when we were in the public works exposition building at Miniaturk, that the scale model tunnel at which we'd marveled depicted this grand and controversial undertaking. This is Marmaray, where the two continents are joined by a tunnel underneath the Bosphorus Strait and where there is a museum to display some of what was discovered when ground was broken for the undertaking ~
For those of you as fascinated as I am by this undertaking and the archaeological treasures that it yielded, I offer up these two articles. The first is an overview and the second an in-depth look at the process, the politics, and the yields.
I'd like to go back and see the Asian side. The suburb of Scutari was still a small town when the Brits built their main hospital there during the Crimean War. From that hospital Florence Nightingale set down the rules for nurses. There is a museum there. Another is at the terminus of the Orient Express, with information on the movies and books that have a connection.
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
More eye candy. I want to say certain ones were my favorite but couldn't single any out, there are that many.
That's fascinating about the rabbits Questa. However, I really don't think that this was the case with my white bunny. The reason I say that is I passed this particular restaurant umpteen times of day and night and there was no evidence of what you describe. This guy seemed to be a solo forager.
As for the cats, when I thought about it some more, it dawned on me that I didn't see any cats but, at night I would hear very loud cats fighting. My travel companion didn't hear them because she was hermetically sealed up in her room with the AC on. I opted for open windows. Anyway, it was pretty much a nightly occurrence and very loud.
Again, well done Bixa, you really did surpass yourself with this report and most especially the gorgeous photos. (I'm glad you did it in increments. Otherwise, it would have been almost overwhelming to take it all in at once). I'm sorry that it came to an end....
Oh, oh, I know what I wanted to ask you. Did you see the absolutely gorgeous summer homes that line the Bosphorus on the Asian side? There's a name for them but I can't remember what it is. They are absolutely magical, very ornate details, almost gingerbreadlike and painted all manner of beautiful pastels. It's going to drive me crazy not remembering their name but, I'm going to try and see if I can find them scrolling around.
Amazing photos Bixa - It all looks so calm and peaceful. Were there any refugees at the time you were there? Has everything changed? I don't know if I would feel safe...or is that just being paranoid and hearing whats on the TV news.... So if I never get there at least I have seen Turkey through your wonderful lens Bixa!
Thank you, Questa. I wish I'd known about and had visited that museum, not least because one of my sisters is a nurse and would have liked to hear about it. Good point about Asian/European sides. Some of the stuff I read made it sound as though there was a better side to visit. That makes no sense, as it's all part of Istanbul and all of Istanbul is worth knowing.
I appreciate that so much, Casimira. And that rabbit was a moment that you were somehow meant and privileged to see. We didn't take a boat tour, just used the ferries. Honestly, I don't remember specifically noticing the houses, but I was in that dazzled tourist mode of gawking at everything but missing lots. (like when I stood with my back to the Eiffel Tower & had to be told to turn around in order to notice it )
So kind, Htmb -- thanks!
Thank you very much, Tod. Really, because of not knowing the language and not knowing what to look for, I am sure I saw many refugees without realizing it. Certainly there were many, many Syrian young men in the city. One of them who worked in my hotel told me that he was leaving the next day to try to get to Germany. The hotel manager talked about how many Syrians were fleeing to Turkey. I asked how they managed to work & if there were a language difficulty. He sort of laughed and named maybe four of the border countries and said, "We've been living together for centuries. We speak each others languages." Another guy I talked to did not like any Syrians & sounded like anyone griping about immigrants anywhere. Re: feeling safe -- there were three incidents of political violence just a couple of days before I left Istanbul. Quite honestly -- and I know this sounds callous -- it affected me no more than any other horror I learn about from the news. I guess logically one should feel uneasy about traveling there now, but considering what has happened around the world in the past six months, why bother worrying about avoiding any places (within reason) in particular?
On a more pleasant note, I want to thank everyone who has commented on this thread and especially for your patience as I pieced it out. I hope it might have whetted some appetites to go see it for yourselves.