Two becomes a trio as the man joins the search for Hotel Ipek Palas.
Once found, he decides it’s too expensive, says he will find another room,
and meet up with us again in 30 minutes.
The hotel appears to be swanky, with white shirts and bow-ties,
but the rooms are tiny and typical.
The view from the room with a construction zone below.
The construction sign next to the sidewalk cafe at street level.
While I shower, the guys reconvene downstairs
where he comforts a Dutch girl
who has lost luggage at the airport from days earlier,
and she is due to leave to the coastal city of Izmir the next morning.
Thus our trio becomes a quartet off to a cyber cafe for telephone and internet.
No word on her bags, so we go sightseeing
instead of worrying about lost luggage.
He opts out of the group activity
after checking his email to find he has a very important “business meeting”.
No further information of the meeting is allowed,
other than he has never been to Istanbul either.
Noted for the enormous dome, Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral for one thousand years.
In the gardens surrounding, evidence of the second church make elegant ruins.
Byzantine Christian mosaics side by side to intricate Islamic motifs
grace the ceilings and walls at strategic points.
Framing the dome,
giant disks are inscribed with the Arabic names of
Allah, Mohammad, and the first four caliphs.
Byzantine mosaics gradually being freed from their plaster prisons
of Hagia Sophia’s days as a mosque.
The domes, minarets, and columns accompanied with the bright sky and spraying fountains
give off an almost fantasy appearance.
To the Hippodrome, the ancient site of horse races.
Only fragments remain, including Dikilitas, the Obelisk of Theodosius,
carved in the time of Pharaoh Thutmose III (1500 BC)
transported here by Theodosius in 390 AD, almost 2 thousand years after it was made.
Yilanli Sütun, the Serpent Column.
Ormedikilitas, Walled Obelisk,
or the Column of Constantine Porphyrogenetus.
The Blue Mosque received its nickname not because of the exterior color,
but because of the blue hue of the tiles on the interior dome ceiling.
Construction was completed in 1616.
A segregated prayer area for women.
A model of the Blue Mosque.
and what appears to have been more Mosque than the man in the foreground could handle.
Hedges cut into the crescent and star of the Turkish flag
add to the fantasy appearance of the domes and minarets.
We weaved through the cosmopolitan city’s streets back to Hotel Ipek,
where he is already enjoying an Efes beer at a sidewalk table.
“So was it blue?” he asks of the Blue Mosque.
And all we could reply was an awestruck, “No…”.
Not too phased by what he missed, he has another “meeting” later in the evening,
and invites our whole party.
A sign we passed numerous times in our wandering,
Another stroll back to the old town between the two massive historical sites of
Hagia Sophia and Sultan Ahmed Mosque is The Four Seasons Hotel.
Originally a Turkish prison, the facility was renovated
and is now is a stylish and luxurious western-style oasis.
After his performance, he dodges personal questions
about his inspirations and background.
He only claims his skill is actually God’s.
After the important business meeting with the piano at the Four Seasons,
He leads on next to
the Istanbul Youth Hostel at Cankurtaran, Kutlugün Sk. No:37,
and the Magnaura Sarayı ruins.
An interesting four story building where the top two floors are an open air restaurant-bar
with views of the famous Bosphorus, Asia, and of course, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
The Istanbul Youth Hostel also overlooks Nakşıdil Valide Sultan Fountain (1788)
at the corner building of The Four Seasons where he just jammed…