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Published: April 28th 2016
: John got up early – 5:30 – and went for a walk down to the Eminonu ferry terminal area to take pictures of the sun coming up on the Bosphorus. It was a little like a salmon going upstream as everyone was coming the other way to their work (the Grand Bazaar opens at 8:00 AM). What a glorious day it was, not a cloud in the sky and everything right with our world. Not that everything was right, as there was a bombing on Wednesday in Bursa, about three hours by ferry and car from Istanbul. Sadly the bombing was at their magnificent mosque but only the bomber was killed. John ended up have a couple of interesting conversations with shopkeepers and folks at the hotel about the impact these bombings are having on the economy. Only a very miniscule number of people have been impacted but hordes are staying away from Turkey and Greece. Curiously for Americans, we kill many thousands of people with guns every year while the number killed by bombing and guns in Turkey (per 100,000) is almost not worth taking about. It is sad to see these wonderful people and this fabulous country so
seriously impacted by terrorists.
Moving on, after a great breakfast on top of the hotel with a view of the shipping lanes, we walked over to Topkapi and visited their kitchens. We have been waiting at least eight years for them to complete the work on the kitchens and finally it is done. The ceramics – and kitchen pots, pans and other equipment – are worth seeing. Amazing to look at something from the 16th
century, ordered from China and delivered with Islamic text on the plates. What kind of ordering process they must have had to get the detail and calligraphy so accurately, especially when considering the distances the order has to travel to be filled.
We continued on into our favorite area – the morning and sun porch with its little gilded dome breakfast nook and a little pool – and incredible Iznik tilework. We took a lot of pictures and enjoyed the view of the Golden Horn. Then into the gem collection and the famous Spoonmaker’s Diamond and equally famous dagger with diamonds and emerald. After the bling we wandered back to the Aya Sofia Hammam where we had a real cleaning. They soak you
in a steam room with hot water being poured over you, then scrub you all over with a kind of lufa that removes a layer of dead skin. Then you are covered with soap suds and massaged, and after cleaning off and relaxing a bit a final 25 minute massage with scented oils completes the rehab effort. While the process is relaxing and invigorating (a definite must for those who get jet lagged), the space itself is quite incredible. The Hammam (women and men are separated) includes a large marble room with a 40 foot dome with lots of little star shaped glass bubbles in the ceiling, and a series of little steam rooms and a huge central marble slab for soaping up. The massage area is in an equally beautiful dome with three floors of elegant wooden construction where people can relax and get worked on. Needless to say, Peggy and John were relaxed and refreshed at the end of the session.
After a little pick-me-up at the café in front of the hammam, we wandered toward the Grand Bazaar, stopping on the way to look at Turkish jewelry and antiques. The antique section of the bazaar is
wonderful, with everything old and useless but beautiful. We did buy a small cup with a sultan’s mark on it and hand etching (the price was terrific) as well as a shawls for the mosques. We visited our old haunt, the Lady Diana Hotel, with its wonderful bar on the roof overlooking the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia and the Bosphorus. We had one beer and that was plenty. We dressed a little for dinner and went to a place recommended by TripAdvisor, Imbat Restaurant, on top of a hotel and overlooking the Golden Horn. Not being too hungry we shared a salad and a lamb dish; good but not great. Then off home and to bed exhausted from our first full day in Istanbul, pleased that we handled our jet lag enough to stay up until around 10:00 PM.
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