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Published: January 7th 2013
Brrr, it is really, really, really cold today!! Saturday was positively mild by comparison. We met Yalcin and our driver in the foyer about 9.15am this morning and headed to Topkapi Palace. We had much better weather when we visited on Saturday morning, today it started to snow not long after we arrived!
Although we had already seen the palace we were happy to go back for a return visit. We didn't hire audio guides on Saturday because we knew that we would be back on Monday with our tour guide. Sure enough, Yalcin was able to tell us about the history of the palace and we even saw some things that we missed on Saturday. At the weekend, when we went through the building housing the royal weapons and armour we didn't notice all of the information about the building having being built over the top of an earlier Byzantine Basilica.
From Topkapi Palace we walked over to the Blue Mosque in the snow. It was still a bit too early for visitors to be admitted so we continued on to the Hippodrome, the Byzantine chariot racetrack. I think I started to turn blue as Yalcin told us
all about its great monuments. Finally we retreated to a cafe for hot drinks so that we could thaw out a bit. The snow's quite pretty to watch from the window of a warm building. It's just not very pleasant to be outside in it!!
After warming up a bit we headed back to the Blue Mosque so that we could finally see all of the blue Iznik tiles that adorn its interior. Known in Turkish as the Sultan Ahmet Cammi, the mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet when he was only 19. With a main dome that is 23.5 metres in diameter and 43 metres high supported on four giant columns five metres in diameter the interior is quite spectacular.
Our next stop was lunch. We were all so cold that we chose very hearty lunches. The girls all had the layered eggplant, chicken and mashed potato dish while Bernie opted for the beef stew. Yalcin had chicken and chips!!
After lunch we went back to the Egyptian Bazaar. Today we even made a few purchases. We bought some original Turkish Delight made from pistachios and honey - rather than the jelly-like Turkish Delight that neither
of us like. I also bought a mug so that I can use my immersion heater to make tea in our room. Our final purchase was some red pistachios with lemon salt. He wanted us to buy a kilo, but we settled on 300 grams.
Our final stop for the afternoon was the Süleymaniye Mosque. This Mosque was the creation of the Ottoman Empire's greatest architect, Sinan. Süleymaniye Camii was built in 1550-57 for Süleyman I. We had to take our shoes off to visit both of the mosques. Rather than having to leave our shoes on a rack outside, we were able to put our shoes into a plastic bag and carry them with us. This removed any worry that our shoes might be gone when we returned for them!!! But today it was a challenge taking our shoes off and putting them back on outside the mosque while keeping our socks dry.
Yay, back to our lovely warm room at the hotel to thaw out and spend a couple of hours before dinner writing up the travel diary and processing some photos.
We met Meredith and Alex at 6.30pm and ventured out for some dinner
even though it was still snowing. We only went around the corner and down the first side street as Bernie thought that he recalled there being quite a few restaurants along there. The tout outside the first restaurant secured our custom - mainly because it was too cold and miserable to spend time comparing restaurants!
The meal was very slow to come, but quite tasty when it arrived. We were all a bit stressed about the extra food that we didn't order, didn't want and didn't eat. The worst part though was the number of young girls in the restaurant smoking. It is a long time since any of us had to eat in a smoky restaurant. All in all, not our finest dining experience since we arrived.
Turkey's smoking in public places policy back in our room we have learnt that smoking has been banned in restaurants and bars since 2009. Maybe next time that we encounter smoking in a restaurant we might be assertive enough to remind them of the law??? Probably not.
Steps for the day: 10,006 (6.99km)
Tot: 3.255s; Tpl: 0.05s; cc: 32; qc: 120; dbt: 0.0819s; 3; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb