Friday, June 02, 2006

Istanbul is wired too

Our hotel here turns out to have free wireless in the room. Our room also has a balcony with a view looking across the Bosphorous and the mountains on the other side, which is Asia. Here we are in Europe.

After two days of touring, we are exhausted. Len's colleague here has a standard tour that he has given to many colleagues. So far we have seen around 7 mosques including ex-mosque Santa Sophia. This morning we saw my favorite, Rustam Pasha, which has red-white-turquoise-and blue tiles on every wall. Each panel has a unique design for its tiles, with a range of patterns and varying degrees of tiny intricacy. Ceilings are either coffered wood or plaster decorated with rather simple stencilled designs (I guess they are stencilled, maybe just painted). The ensemble is breathtaking. Although the architect Sinan designed several much larger mosques that we have seen, this one is very special.

This afternoon we had a long ride on a passenger ferry up the Bosphorous -- we saw dolphins jumping in the water, boys swimming in ugly green algae-covered places, fishermen off the dock pulling in a net full of sardines (wanted) and jellyfish (thrown back in), the two huge bridges that link Europe with Asia, and vast numbers of mostly beautiful buildings. The ferry boat destination is a small village, from which we went up to a Byzantine/Ottoman fortress.

We are eating wonderful food in beautiful settings, mainly outdoors. Tonight's restaurant looked directly down on one of the bridges that we had looked up at from the boat.

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