We started our day off with the 4:30a morning prayer call before starting our day again at a more reasonable hour. At breakfast, we tried cherry juice and apple tea (cherry juice: yes; apple tea: no)before going to the Sultanahmet Camii Mosque. After standing in line (and taking pictures of and with some women in Singapore), we overheard a tour guide telling his group hat some president was visiting so the Mosque was closed to visitors until he was gone. After hearing it would be about an hour, we decided to go see an underground cister, the Yerebatan SarnIcI. Before we went to the cistern, we were trying to take pictures in front of the mosque when a Turkish man came over to help us.
He gave us some really good history about the obelisks in a square outside the mosque before he (naturally) tried to sell us some rugs. I was scolded for talking to him (even though I wasn’t the only one!) before we set off towards the Yerebatan SarnIcI. We figured out the right direction to go and got a bit confused once we were near it. Luckily, a nice old Turkish man pointed us in the right direction (literally, he growled “Cistern is that way” and pointed as we wandered). The Yerebatan SarnIcI was really amazing. The whole place is underground and it has water under the bridges. The columns in the water and the interesting arches make the place beautiful.
There were two medusa column bases, one with Medusa sideways and the other with her upside down.
Scientists think it’s for a reason, they just don’t know what reason. There was also a wooden column called the tear drop column that’s supposed to have healing powers. The pattern on it is kept intact by people pushing their fingers into the damp wood.
After we left the cistern, we went and sat down in a park to decide what to do next. The park faced the Hagia Spophia, so we took a couple touristy photos.
We decided to go back and try to get into the Sultanahmet Camii again. As we were waiting in line, Gillian and I went and took more goofy tourist photos (including one involving the rock I found for my friend and one of Gillian jumping off some steps).
This time, we were much more successful in getting into the mosque. The inside was so beautiful and intricate – and crowded! I was amazed at how many people were around, even during off-season!
After we left the mosque, we tried to find a place to have some tea before heading to the big bazaar. We didn’t find the place we were looking for (Derviş), but we did try some Turkish tea. I liked it much better than the apple tea and the cups it came in were cool. After tea, we went to the bazaar and on our way we found Derviş, of course. In the bazaar, I managed to find something cool for my brother (who I hope still wears a medium) and a neat scarf for myself (which I haggled down from 40 Turkish Lira to 20). The bazaar had everything you could think of in a million different varieties and everyone is in your face trying to get you to buy their variety. Once we left the bazaar, we tried to get back onto the street we came in on for lunch. We did end up back on the street, but we weren’t in the same area, so after being harassed by the workers of the restaurants, we sat down at a place that didn’t harass us. We all ordered something with Dönar (except Gillian), which is meat that is carved off while it’s still cooking on a rotating skewer. I finally managed to (briefly) get Internet, so I let my parents know we made it and went back to my adventure.
After we left the restaurant, we walked back to our hotel where our “neighbor” tried to get us to eat at his restaurant (as usual). We all rested for a bit before Lea, Gillian, and I went off in search of a Turkish bath that accepted Visa. We didn’t really know what to expect, but we paid for the traditional wash and the oil massage and were told where to go. We got a little confused until a squat Turkish woman barked “upstairs” at us. Her harsh tone jolted us into action and we trooped upstairs and filed into the dressing room where we changed into the bikini bottoms and towels given to us. The squat woman came to get us and, clad in nothing but the disposable bottoms and our towels, we were handed off to different Turkish women who brought us into a big, steamy room. They took our towels off and lay them on the huge marble slab and gestured for us the lay down. We weren’t near each other, so the shock of having a stranger remove your towel was startling. I think Lea and Gillian were more uncomfortable than I was; I thought it was interesting more than awkward. We lay on our stomachs on our towels for a while before the Turkish women came back and scrubbed us down. The woman that bathed me didn’t speak much English, but when I sat up so she could rinse the suds off me, she said “Nice” and cupped my chin. Through a bit of pantomiming and some limited English, she managed to convey that my physique is nice, but my eyes and smile are better. After we had been washed and rinsed, Lea and I went in to the Jacuzzi and waited for Gillian. We couldn’t find her, so we went and waited with our red “Oil Massage” tokens for someone to come give us a massage. The massage was really nice and about halfway through, I heard Gillian come in, so at least we found her. Once the massage was done, Lea and I went out into the lobby to shower and wait for Gillian. Once back at the hotel, Gillian and I went to Starbucks so I could take my test before we went to meet gramma and Lea at our “neighbor’s” restaurant. I had Spaghetti Bolognaise, which was really good, and the atmosphere was great. There was a young Turkish man playing the guitar and the wait staff were very fun. We spent a long while in the restaurant (though we sat outside) laughing with the wait staff and petting the kittens. After dinner, Gillian and I walked down the main street looking for some necessities, returning to the hotel with our loot. After such a long day, we all went to bed.
Interested in more photos? You can see all of them from Summer 2012 and from Turkey at my Flickr page!