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Published: April 22nd 2011
Blue sky today, what a great sight. It is a bit cool; back home we would say autumnal, but it won’t deter us from our planned adventures for the day. We breakfasted out, price wise not a good move, but the omelettes were very nice. Once we had full stomachs we were ready for our first visit; the Basilica Cistern, not far from our hotel so it was an easy walk. We seem to run the gauntlet of the carpet shops everywhere in Turkey. This time we stopped over the road from a carpet cafe and commented about the risk you would take when entering the cafe. We didn’t need to enter the cafe because the owner crossed the road and offered to show us the finest carpets in all of Turkey. Once he knew we were Kiwis he gave up. A wise man knows when he is beaten.
Further along the street we found a sign saying “Post Cards” and “Post Box” so went in the direction of the signs. Along the footpath, round the corner, into a carpet shop, down the steps and there it was, a nice leather post box with other people’s mail already in it. So
we added our little bundle hoping they would eventually be collected and sent on their way. Once again the sales patter started but with a strong will we were on our way.
Now we were ready for sight number one for the day. The Basilica Cistern was built by Emperor Justinian in the 4th century as a way of providing water for the people. This large underground cistern could hold up to 80,000 cubic metres of water. We joined the ever growing numbers of tourists and followed the stairway underground. What an amazing sight. This vast cavern was designed with a vaulted ceiling held up by a great many columns. Water dripped from the ceiling and landed on heads and down necks. Not a very comfortable feeling but the visit was worth the annoyance. When we emerged we took a quick walk across the road to the area between the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia for a few more photos. We had visited these sights two weeks earlier and we were pleased we had because today the tour buses were there in vast numbers off loading their passengers. Added to this several local school groups were visiting the area. The
pathways were getting quite congested. We can only imagine what it will be like in the summer. The school children as always wanted to practise their English.
We used our akbils to take a tram and then the funicular up the hill to Taksim Square. During our walk down from there we came across two tucked away Christian churches (a change from mosques) among the shops and embassies that line the avenue.
A very cold wind developed after lunch so instead of walking over the bridge that crosses the Golden Horn we headed into the spice market for some medicinal sniffing of the delicious smells. What a feast of colour and noise and what seemed like half of Turkey all trying to make progress through the alleys. Now we are back in our little hotel room soaking up the last of the sun pouring in. Soon we’ll head out for another dinner of finest Turkish food!
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