11 October 2010

Istanbul not Constantinople...Part II

We (and by we I mean Hilla, Sarah, and I) decided to go to Istanbul. Ok, let me rephrase that. Sarah had to go to Istanbul and Hilla and I decided to sort of tag along in Istanbul but in reality just go off by ourselves while she had to look at Islamic and Byzantine architecture. I insisted that Hilla and I go anytime but in September and August because I didn't want to go back any closer to August in case that it would be like the last time: so hot the sweat drips down my legs. And it wasn't! In fact, it was the exact opposite. It was freezing cold, and for a while I was seriously worried that we were going to spend our entire trip soaking wet. To give you an idea of just how different the temperatures were, let us do a photographic comparison.

I know it's two different locations but we're primarily using this as a comparison of sky/Sarah Giffin clothing choices. Notice the first picture. A beautiful, cloudless blue sky and me wearing what is probably a sweat-soaked T-shirt and skirt. Now let's look at the second picture. No blue sky, instead it is gray, and I'm wearing a polar fleece jacket, a shell with furry stuff lining it, a scarf, pants, and my completely ridiculous fur lined, knit aviator's hat. And I'm pretty sure that I was still cold. However, I think that being all bundled up and still a little bit cold is much better than looking and feeling all day like you just got out of a shower. So in the end, much more enjoyable, especially since I thought that the cold weather gave the city a much more European feel. Don't ask me where that logic came from.

So I guess I should start from the very beginning of the trip. Hilla and I decided to take an evening bus the 6 hour drive up to Istanbul. However, my intense fear of rain happened as I was watching someone's seat-back television reflection in the mirror of how Istanbul was completely flooded. There were even shots of people using buckets to empty out rooms in their houses. I mean, it was already pretty rainy and cold back in Ankara, and I heard that it was supposed to rain in Istanbul, but I didn't know it was going to rain that much. And then the deluge happened. We were driving, and then all of a sudden the bus was being pounded with rain. And it continued getting pounded all the way into Istanbul. At one point we made a stop to drop some people off and the parking lot was so flooded that you couldn't see the asphalt, it was just completely underwater. So we ended up getting into the main bus station in Istanbul at about 12:30am and had to wait outside in the cold, but luckily covered, for the bus service that would take us to a stop downtown where we could pick up a significantly cheaper taxi to take us to our hotel. We ended up getting into our hotel at almost 2am, completely soaked, very cold, and very tired.

And then, low and behold, it didn't rain for the rest of the weekend! It was actually quite pleasant outside, despite the fact that it was overcast and cold most of the time. Much more enjoyable when I was sweating through my clothes back in August. And I went to pretty much all the same places that I went to back in August: the standard Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar. I even ate at some of the same restaurants, like this really tasty and legit Indian place near Sultanahmet where the Indian food is really spicy and they have LAMB. I love lamb.

So random/bizarre travel experience that I had. Hilla and I had gotten a little bit lost trying to find this kofte place to eat at. We ended up turning around down a side street in an attempt to backtrack and find a place where we knew where we were. While turning around we happened upon this store front that had a bunch of really cool oil paintings of whirling dervishes and then I noticed that there was a sign over the door that said "Art Gallery: Free Entry". So we wandered down the stairs into the coolest basement art gallery ever. I it was divided into 2 main rooms, all plastered and white washed with vaulted looking ceilings and these wide arched doorways dividing the different rooms. The first room that we found ourselves in was full of paintings and sculptures with a sign that said "Everything is for sale" and in the second room was what appeared to be a workshop full of half finished sculptures and with 3 people inside working on some sketches. After looking around the for sale items, and finding and buying a couple of water colors that we liked, the people in the workshop invited us over to partake in some tea with them in the workshop. Luckily, a woman who was there spoke some English, and she informed Hilla and me that the two younger people were students of the older man who was training them for their fine arts entrance exam for an Istanbul University. Then they had to go back to practicing their artwork, but they told us that we could stick around and have more tea if we wanted. So Hilla and I stayed and watched for another 15 or so minutes, just sitting in this workshop and listening to classical opera music. All in all the whole experience was very bizarre. And then we went and got strange street candy that was like this:
I love Hilla's face in this picture.

So in other news, I got a full blown case of the flu right after getting back from Istanbul, complete with fever, major body pain, smokers cough, etc. I went to the doctors and they put me on mandatory bed rest, and even made me take a slip of paper saying that I couldn't come to class for 2 days to the department secretary to inform my professors why I wouldn't be in class. I actually really like this system since it forces me to stay home, which I normally don't do. Good thing I decided that this week I wasn't going to go travelling anywhere.


  1. Some usefull info about history.
    Constantinople was till 1453, ayia sofia was built by greeks(byzantine empire)...and after turkish conquer it, they rename as the people call it in the streets.."instabul"...but they didnt know that instabul its mean in greek "the way to the downtown"
    :)have a nice day

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayia_Sofia