Firstly, I went to the wrong mosque! I should have gone to Hagia Sophia and not the Blue Mosque! I really should have done my homework before visiting but I didn’t and so I never got to see the Norse runes!
Today was a Thursday, (20th December) and was a day set aside for sightseeing, though the weather did not play along with this plan as it SNOWED all day and was bitterly cold! The weatherman did not forecast snow!
Istanbul is such a vast city that seeing ‘all’ the sights is not possible in a day. It took a good 20 minute taxi drive from the hotel to the ‘old’ Istanbul to even see the Blue Mosque. I wanted to see the Bosphorus and get my picture with the city skyline saying, ‘Christine in Constantinople,’ but the snow laden cloud masked the river so that we could not see any landmarks!
David and I must look like tourists as a ‘tour guide’ latched onto us as we approached the Blue Mosque. With the slippery snow falling on marble steps, the going was treacherous! The sight of a screaming tourists stepping gingerly from the mosque recalled biblical scenes for me and an image of lepers crawling from the temple flashed in my mind. 😀
We had to take our shoes off to enter the mosque and I, as a woman, had to wear a blue scarf that was given to me. I do not suit scarves, and most definitely not blue scarves! I looked like the Virgin Mary! Inside, the mosque was beautifully ornate. I would have liked someone to have told me what I was looking at though. I just aimed my camera and took pictures.
Afterwards, frozen, we all headed for a cafe where we had toasted sandwiches and nice coffee.
Then, with our cockles warmer we ventured back out into the cold once again and visited the Cistern, an underground reservoir that harkens back to Roman times. I liked this place a lot, more so than the mosque.
From the Cistern, we visited the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar, though shopping isn’t really my thing.
We got a taxi back to the hotel. One driver wanted to charge us more as we were English! Cheeky so and so! We then got ready for a most welcoming meal at Bilgen’s family home. I really loved the salmon and mash potatoes on offer. Meeting new people always stresses me out but I relaxed more as the week progressed. We were very much made to feel welcome which was nice. 🙂