Istanbul: Day 4

This week has flown by so fast, and we've barely scratched the surface of Istanbul. Tomorrow will be our last sightseeing day, which is a little sad. Fortunately, we plan to go out with a big site, but more on that tomorrow.

This morning, after our usual breakfast, we decided to visit Kariye Museum (the Church at Chora) based on a recommendation from a friend of Norah's who comes here often. It did not disappoint! The 11th century church has a huge number of 13/14th century mosaics covering the walls and ceilings. I can't describe how beautiful they were, so I'll try to post pictures as some point. The mosaics covered all sorts of things from the Life of Christ to the Life of Mary to the Miracles of Christ, etc. They were exquisite and simply breathtaking. Seriously, I gasped when I entered one domed room.

The other interesting thing about Chora was the sheer number of cats! My cat count for the day went through the roof when we came across 8 cats on the street outside the entrance to the museum. The cats followed us in, and were very friendly for having lived on the streets.

Anyway, we took a cab back to the Spice Bazaar, which has shops that sell, can you guess??? Spices!! And they also sell Turkish Delight and tea. We found a little hole in the wall and I purchased loads of different kinds of tea. Yes, I'm a total sucker. But, it was all really good-tasting tea! I made it out with only 3 kg of tea and sundries. :( My baggage weight allowance is screaming at me right now!

Loaded down with our bags (Norah's was 5 kg), we tried to walk back to the hotel to drop our loot. I used the word "tried" on purpose, because the more I walk around here with the map, the more I realize that it really doesn't matter. Either the road markings suck, the map sucks (probably), or a combination of the both. Whatever it is, we got lost. After wandering around aimlessly, we found a street that looked promising and walked into an opticians office to ask where we were. They didn't speak a lot of English, but pointing at a map works in any language, and we figured out where we needed to go. What an adventure!

We rested in the room for about an hour (it was rather warm outside), and then decided to take a trek back in the direction we had just come from to find the Suleymaniye Mosque. Once again, we got a little lost. Seriously, nothing is marked here and where the map says there's a street, there isn't! It's so confusing. Through the mire of "you are beautiful", "oh, baby", and "you look like an angel", we came to the mosque, eventually. And, wouldn't you know it? All of that trouble walking paid off...with a mosque that was almost entirely closed! I can only assume that it is an incredibly awesome site when it is not being renovated.

Dejected, we decided to comfort ourselves with more haggling in the Grand Bazaar. With only a moment of lostedness, we found an entrance that we'd been through before! Interestingly, we passed by the booth where Norah bought her bracelets. The man remembered us and said hi. It was a nice way to start off the second day of the bazaar experience. Then we walked around some more. Norah bought some things and managed to talk a guy down more than half of what he original said he was charging. He must have thought she was a total sucker...he was mistaken! I'm leaving the haggling to her from now on!!

We went back the way we came in to this Uzbek man selling embroidered things. I had tried haggling with him yesterday, and he really wouldn't budge. As it turned out, he was MUCH cheaper than anyone in the bazaar, so I bought something small from him. I liked him, and his shop was small and out of the way. I liked that too.

Taking a different route out the bazaar, we happened upon another hole in the wall place with a guy selling tea (the already-made-for-you kind). Norah wanted to get some tea, and I'm glad I stopped being a pain in the ass and had the tea! The guy who runs the stand was bringing tea to a shop down the way, and he didn't speak English anyway. So another shop owner came up and translated. He stayed at talked to us, because we were down an alley that didn't get a lot of traffic. He was extremely friendly and talked about going to school in Britain and how his wife embroiders things. We talked about textiles and he got us more tea. It was very pleasant.

Then we went to his shop. It was small, but he had lots of textiles and antique silver. He showed us some other things, and I think he knew we couldn't afford some of it, but he was proud of what he had and just wanted to show us. I told him he needed to get a website set up, and I plan to help him do that. I also said I'd mention him on my blog. :) So, if you're ever in Istanbul and you go to the Grand Bazaar look for Yasar (pronounced Yahshar), which is run by Amanullah Yasar. He had some really nice stuff and I thought his prices were extremely reasonable. I will post a picture I took in his store as soon as I get a chance.

That ended our bazaar fun, or so I thought. On the way out, we ran into an old friend--the carpet salesman that I wasn't so nice to yesterday, but who had been nice enough to escort us from the darkened, closed Grand Bazaar. He tried to persuade us to come by his shop, but we were tired, and I just absolutely cannot afford a carpet. So, I told him that. And, what do you know? It worked! I did also say that I'd try to remember to bring Gavin back when we come. Who knows, I may see him again!!!

Carpet Salesmen Count = 1 (although numerous tried to get us, we ignored them)
Perverted Guys with Stupid Pickup Lines = 8 (give or take a couple)
Cats = at least 25...seriously, they are everywhere!!

Note: If you want more info on Amanullah Yasar's shop, let me know! I'd be happy to send it. If he gets a website up and running, I'll link to it from here if I can. :) Also, I can try to give you directions to his shop if you plan on coming to Istanbul. It's worth the trip through the bazaar!