Istanbul: Day 1

I realize it's Tuesday, and I usually post a teaser. But, in celebration of my awesome MIL, who took me with her to Istanbul, I'm going to try to blog about the trip every day we're here. Lord only knows if I'll actually blog every day. But here goes...

Well, after a very exhausting day of walking, looking at old stuff, trying to look as mean as possible, apparently looking as friendly and open as possible, and having to say 'no' repeatedly to people who mistook the 'mean' look for the 'I'm here to spend tons of money on carpets' look, I AM PLUM TUCKERED OUT. That isn't to say I didn't have a great time today, because I definitely did.

We (Norah, my MIL, and I) started out a bit late this morning, because the 2 hour time change had us staying up later than we would have liked. But, after a lovely breakfast (included in the room price!) at the hotel where we could see the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. One of the hotel staff offered to help us locate the places we wanted to go. Which started off a conversation about whether or not I was in school. He apparently thought I was in high school. Seriously. I'm not sure if that was a compliment or not, considering that was at least 10 years ago. But, well, it was funny.

This first day was to be spent in the Architectural Museum and Topkapi Palace. Little did we know that the former was the size of a city. So, most of the day was spent at the museum. I can't tell you how amazing it was to see parts of the tiles from the Ishtar Gate of Babylon.

Leaving the museum for some lunch, we ran into Carpet Salesman #1: the Philosophy Professor. I tried to avoid him. I really did. Norah even made a good stab and getting rid of him, but he literally RAN after us. I mean, what can you do when the guy stands in front of you, blocking your path? Well, I could have been really mean, but I hadn't learned my lesson yet. We followed him back to his store. He served us some lovely tea and proceeded to spread carpets out in front of us "just to show us." Although he was an excellent salesman and seemed like a nice guy, you can't sell carpets of people who ain't got the dough. So, we left carpetless. (And for those of you wishing to make a dirty joke here, save it. I'm sure I've heard it all today...)

Lots of walking comprised the first half of the day, and we ended up coming back to the hotel room for a short rest after the longer-than-necessary carpet setback. We had planned for lunch, but we didn't really have time, so we ate a snack we'd gotten at Heathrow, and headed out to the Blue Mosque. According to our guidebook, it was the only thing that would be open long enough for us to see it.

It's amazing how close we are to everything, and it didn't take us long to get to the mosque. IT'S GINORMOUS! And, I'm glad it's a mosque cuz when I walked into the gates and they had booths set up with people selling just about anything you can imagine, I thought about a particular passage in the Bible I actually remember from Sunday School...

Anyway, we found the "visitor's entrance" off to the side and proceeded in that direction. Enter Carpet Salesman #2: Tour Guide for the Blue Mosque. He was very nice indeed, even though we walked right past him and kept on going. In fact, I had the "if you mess with me I'll kill you" look that has seemed to work on other trips. It doesn't work here. No, instead, apparently this look is just a challenge. Either that, or they think I'm flirting.

Tour Guide guy gave us a nice tour of the mosque, which I don't think we would have had without him. He pointed out all sorts of things and told us about holy days, etc. I was a little surprised when I saw that not all the women had their heads covered, and well...I just didn't seem right. But, that's just me. He said it wasn't required for visitors, but still.

Then we went on a tour of the outside of the mosque, the old stable areas, and some old old houses. This tour ended at...a carpet store. And, I actually considered buying one. So much so, that I asked the price. Well, let's just say...I didn't buy anything. As lovely as they were, I can't spend half my rent on a carpet. And, it made me feel a little bad, because they'd gone to so much trouble trying to sell us stuff. And, even though we didn't buy a carpet, Tour Guide guy continued our tour all the way to the Hagia Sophia, where he informed us that it was open until 7:00.

We went in, and it was AMAZING. If I thought the Blue Mosque was huge, wow, there are no words to describe the Hagia Sophia. It's ridiculously old, and incredibly beautiful in a stoic kind of way. I just can't imagine how it was built. They were doing a lot of restoration on the mosaics, so we didn't get to see the whole thing, but we got a good idea of the massive size of the place. Seriously, I wish I could describe it, but I can't. You just have to go!

The day ended with some dinner at a place we were pressured into eating at. Seriously, men here have no problem standing directly in front of you, telling you what to do! Fortunately, the food was really good, and it was served on a terrace overlooking all the sites!!

Now, throughout the day, I'd had several flirting men (just ask Norah), but I think the waiter took the prize for most flirtatious. Even after I said I was married--by which he was completely shocked--he continued to flirt. It was kind of funny actually. And, he managed to jump into a picture Norah was taking. My facial expression may have been pretty funny. I'll have to see and post it if so.

And, that's basically it for the day. I'm tired and will be going to bed as soon as I dry my hair. I'm thinking of making it into a big poofball. Possibly, I'll put my lipstick on crooked tomorrow as well, and paints a weird mole on my face. Do you think would get them all off my back? There have been very few times in my life when I really thought I NEEDED to have a man around (the car dealership being another of those times), but I have to say...for reasons other than the obvious one...I wish Gavin were here. At least he might scare off some of the carpet salesmen!


VĂ©ro said...

Oh I look forward to reading about Istanbul day 2. I laughed, I cried .. ok well I did not cry, but I did cringe and really enjoyed reading about your day!

Roby Sue said...

Your day sounds eerily like my travels around Brazil . . . I've never felt so attractive in my life, there were so many guys hitting on me there.