Blue Mosque and Backgammon

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May 15th 2016
Published: May 15th 2016
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Sunday: John took an early morning walk down the hill to the Galata Bridge only to find out halfway that the camera battery was dead. Sad as the light and the views were spectacular. He sat and watched over 40 fishermen with their long poles and fancy lure rigs casting far out into the Golden Horn in hopes of dinner. During the 15 minutes or more not one caught more than a guppy. Maybe it was the camaraderie.

After a moderately good breakfast we took the Tunel tram and the trolley to the Blue Mosque for a visit. Inside after a few pictures Peggy had a long and delightful conversation with a mosque gentleman about Islam. The focus was on one of the five pillars or Islam: charity. Interesting that charity is not just about giving to those around you but to be charitable with yourself in all that you do, from relationships to work to health to play and more. A wonderful way to view life.

After the Blue Mosque we went to visit the Rug Museum at the back of the Aya Sofia. Most interesting as they have ancient rugs from various mosques all over Turkey. A great exhibit and very educational. Then on to the Archaeological Museum in the Topkapi Palace. On the way we found the church dedicated by Constantine, Hagia Irene, to be open for the first time. We went in and were impressed but not excited. It is a lovely space but nothing has been done to present it well. I guess that comes from being an also-ran behind Aya Sofia and being used as an arsenal by the Ottomans for many centuries. Good to see the inside. On to the Archaeological Museum, which is under repair, so some of the exhibits were not available. Very sad that the most exciting exhibit, the Sarcophagus of Alexander, is not available for viewing!! Sad but true.

We took the trolley and tram back through heavy traffic and settled in for a nice late afternoon rest. Upon getting back into the swing of things we took a cab back to the Sultanamet and had a few cups of apple tea while playing backgammon. We met our friend Mehmet (he owns the Magnaura Palace Hotel where we stayed when we arrived in Istanbul last month) and spent a wonderful few hours chatting over dinner and more backgammon. Conversation ran the gamut from Turkish politics to economic issues to American politics. What a thoughtful and enjoyable time we had together. However, the hookah smoke began to get irritating and we needed our rest, so back to the hotel. Of particular interest this evening is the fact that the local Istanbul football team won the Turkish championship and the whole town is celebrating. Fireworks and flags and beeping horns. As we passed through Eminonu and the wharf we could see the stadium and there was a huge cloud of smoke from fireworks hanging over the entire area! Congratulations.

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