Pictures!

Here are some shots of Hierapolis and Istanbul:

Bathers in the Antique Pool

Bathers in the Antique Pool

Columns in the Antique Pool

Columns in the Antique Pool

Another tomb at Hierapolis

Another tomb at Hierapolis

the view from the tombs at Hierapolis

the view from the tombs at Hierapolis

tombs!  at Hierapolis

tombs! at Hierapolis

A close up of the scaenae frons at the theater in Hierapolis

A close up of the scaenae frons at the theater in Hierapolis

The theater at Hierapolis

The theater at Hierapolis

Chris enjoying one of the pools at Pamukkale

Chris enjoying one of the pools at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

Chris at Pamukkale

Chris at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

The travertines at Pamukkale

Ceramics in the tile museum

Ceramics in the tile museum

Beautiful tile work in the museum

Beautiful tile work in the museum

The Aya Sophia

The Aya Sophia

Inside the Aya Sophia

Inside the Aya Sophia

Inside the Aya Sophia

Inside the Aya Sophia

A mosaic in the Aya Sophia

A mosaic in the Aya Sophia

A mosaic in the Aya Sophia

A mosaic in the Aya Sophia

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque

A mosaic in the Blue Mosque

A mosaic in the Blue Mosque

Detail of tile work in the Blue Mosque

Detail of tile work in the Blue Mosque

Close up of the exterior of the Blue Mosque

Close up of the exterior of the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside a "kiosk" of the Topkapi Palace

Inside a “kiosk” of the Topkapi Palace

View of Istanbul across the Golden Horn

View of Istanbul across the Golden Horn

Mosaic from the Chora Church

Mosaic from the Chora Church

St. Peter mosaic from the Chora Church

St. Peter mosaic from the Chora Church

Fresco of Jesus resurrecting Adam and Eve in the Chora Church

Fresco of Jesus resurrecting Adam and Eve in the Chora Church

Kitten!  One of many...

Kitten! One of many…

Check in soon for the last post of the summer…

Advertisements

Istanbul, Day 2.5

Our last day in Istanbul was pretty relaxed and pleasant. We packed in the morning before heading out to the Chora Church. It was the last museum on our pass, so we figured it was worth a look, even though it was out of the Old City center (“chora” literally means “country” because the church was outside the original walls of Constantinople). It has the best surviving Byzantine mosaics, and is a really good example of what the Aya Sophia should look like with it’s original decorations. The mosaics are absolutely stunning, though when we got there we encountered yet another “Close for Restoration” sign – the inner part of the church was closed, but luckily most of the best-preserved mosaics were in the outer halls. We hurt our necks craning up at the Virgin Mary and Jesus, and also got to see some beautiful frescoes as well. It was a lovely little church, and I’m glad we made the trek out to see it.

After the Chora, we had lunch at Asitane, a restaurant that specializes in Ottoman period food. They even included dates next to the menu items, indicating the earliest known reference to the dish. It was a really neat experience, and the food was amazing. I had fish stuffed with walnuts and spices, and Chris had spiced ground meat in a hollowed out melon that was then baked. Both dishes were really interesting and also delicious!

After lunch, we headed back to our hotel to wait for our shuttle to the airport. Now, it’s off to Dublin for the night then back to the States! I’ll be posting a bunch of pictures when I get home, as well as one last post about general impressions of our trip, so keep an eye out for that! See you Stateside!

Istanbul, Day 2

So, after a long day of numerous disappointments yesterday, we did end up having a really lovely dinner at Pasazade, which had been highly recommended both on TripAdvisor and in our guide book. I had a sort of beef stew with vegetables over an eggplant puree that was absolutely delicious, and Chris had a lamb stew with various fruits in it that was also tremendous. As always, we found ourselves rejuvenated by food, and returned to our hotel in good spirits.

Today was good as well. This morning, we went first to the Aya Sophia (or Hagia Sophia) which was spectacular. We’d gotten there early, almost right after it opened, so it felt as if we had the place to ourselves. It was really incredible to see such an astonishing building with such an amazing history – first constructed as a church, then turned into a mosque, and now a museum. It’s a pity that the original Christian decorations don’t really survived – there are some mosaics here and there – but it was also neat to see a different phase of the building’s history. We also got to see the tombs of several sultans, accessed by a different entrance, which were beautifully decorated in the Islamic style – lots of colored tiles and pointed arches.

I should also note that there was a family of four kittens living in the corner of the Aya Sophia and Chris and I did spend quite a long time gleefully watching them try to climb a metal barrier post. It was the most adorable thing in the entire world.

After the Aya Sophia, we walked across the park to the Blue Mosque. Because it is still a functioning mosque, we had to wear long pants and shirts with sleeves, and I had to have a scarf to cover my head. Needless to say, we were incredibly uncomfortable due to the heat, but once we got inside, it was definitely worth it. I’ve heard people say that if the Aya Sophia is Istanbul’s Notre Dame, the Blue Mosque is Sainte Chappelle. I definitely agree with that – the Blue Mosque is smaller, but absolutely stunning because of it’s amazing interior decoration. Thousands and thousands of tiles, mostly blue, decorate every surface and the architecture of the building itself is quite beautiful. I’ll be sure to post some pictures soon!

After the Blue Mosque, we had lunch at a little pide (Turkish pizza) place. It was nice to sit and get out of the heat for a bit, especially since we then spent the afternoon wandering around Topkapi Palace. It was really cool to see the palace where sultans had lived, but whenever I visit places like that, I always find myself thinking about the ridiculousness of their wealth over other people’s. It was no different here, wandering from one lavishly decorated court to another, especially when we walked through the treasury where a lot of the court jewels – including the 5th largest diamond in the world – were on display. There was a nice view of the Bosphorus, though, so that helped alleviate my 99% frustration. ­čśë

At the end of our visit it began to seriously thunderstorm, with rain just pouring down out of the sky. We hid in the Hagia Irene for a bit, which was really spooky. There were only lights at the tops of a few of the columns and no natural light coming in through the windows due to the storm and the church itself is completely bare of any decoration, leaving the walls and ceiling totally bare. It was certainly a fitting place to wait out a thunderstorm.

As the rain let up a bit, we walked back to our hotel, getting soaked in the processed. The rain hadn’t really let up by dinner time, so we found an uninspiring kebab place nearby. A rather dismal end to a day that had started off so well!

Istanbul, Day 1

Today has been interesting. I mentioned yesterday that the strain of our two months of travel has started to show through, and I think that today it peeked out a little more. It can’t be helped – both of us want very badly to go home, but had made the decision to travel after the ASCSA program long ago. We’re trying to make the most of it, keep each other’s spirits up, but, after 8 weeks, it’s a difficult thing to do when all you can think about is your own bed and shower. So, when we got to the archaeological museum this morning and found that half of it was closed due to restoration, grumpiness ensued and was only strengthened as we walked through the parts of the museum that were open – again, signs detailing the who/what/where/when/how/why of each artifact were sadly lacking or absent altogether. The part of the museum showcasing Turkish/Islamic tiles and ceramics was lovely, though, and that carried us through a very pleasant lunch. the grump monster struck again, however, as we headed to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art only to find that it was closed for renovations. This was one of the museums we had really been looking forward to (and was included on our museum pass, bought this morning), so the disappointment was keen. We walked over instead to the Grand Palace Mosaic Museum, which was small but neat. After that, we found a nice shady cafe for a drink and a rest, before heading back to the hotel for some air-conditioning.

I like Istanbul so far, but I think I would have liked it more if I were not ending two months of travel here. Chris and I are both so tired, but there is a strong sense of obligation to go see and do everything, and any kind of setback is felt ten-fold. Tomorrow should be better (Aya Sophia and the Blue Mosque!) but if not, we’ll be home in three days. Here’s to a nice dinner tonight and some good sight-seeing tomorrow!