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Published: October 18th 2014
ISTANBUL 18.10.14 cooler and late showers. This morning we visited the Basilica Cistern, just down the road from the hotel. Built in 532AD, to provide water for the now vanished Byzantine Palace. Comprised of over 300 columns, deep underground, some with carvings of Medusa and Peacock eyes. Very beautiful place enhanced by haunting music. Afterwards we had decided to visit the nearby Blue Mosque and Aya Sophia, however today the tourist crowds arrived and the queues were long. SO, we bypassed them for Turkish Coffee, mud like, but ultimately quite drinkable, and amazing Turkish Delights and Pastries from Hafiz Mustafa, established in 1864 and still going strong. Afterwards we did another lap of the Grand Bazaar, before again contemplating the Blue Mosque. Queues of at least 1500 people in front of us made us search for other religious buildings. Luckily?, there are over 1500 mosques in Istanbul, so our task was relatively easy. We sought out a mosque modelled on the Aya Sophia, with the third largest dome in Byzantine days, after the Aya Sophia and St Peters in Rome. A very simple, yet beautiful building. Initially thought we had found it, but it turned out to be another equally beautiful
mosque from the same era. The maps and roads are Byzantine ( pun intended) in their complexity, so we got lost! Finally getting back to Sultanahmet, we once again attempted the Blue a Mosque. Stood in line for 40 minutes, finally gaining access 10 minutes before closing. Although short, it was sufficient time to take in the magnificence of this building, the blue tiles, for which the Mosque is known are quite spectacular in design and placement, and the Arab wall scripts are most intricate. We then adjourned for a rest. The autumn winds began to blow and the afternoon cooled and showered. Met Brian ( from the Silk Road ride) and his wife, Charlene, for drinks and dinner, and learnt the gossip from the remainder of the trip. Sounded more arduous than the first half!!! Bed after 11pm, our latest night!!!
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