Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Istanbul Day 1

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What a city, this place is huge and filled with people, I really can't get over how many people are in this city. I am so glad I have my friend Irem to show me her city like i was able to show her New York City. I was able to see more things yesterday than I would have seen in three days if I was by myself. We went to the "Basilica Cistern" (Photo Above) It was built around 565 by the Byzantine Empire and was the water source of the entire city at the time, with a capacity of 100,000 tons of water (about 25 million gallons, if my math is correct).

We also went to a huge mosque and it was amazing inside. It was my first visit to a mosque and it was a great experience. We were there during afternoon prayers and this too was a great experience to see. I highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in faith, no matter what your faith.

We then went to the "Grand Bazaar", which is a huge indoor shopping area that has been there for centuries. The place is huge and very easy to get yourself lost in. If you don't pay attention, you will exit in a place you did not expect to end up. We had been walking most of the afternoon and we headed to an outdoor restaurant to have some dinner and Turkish coffee, (it makes espresso look like weak cup of coffee) and to watch "Whirling Dervishes" - it is one of the physical methods used to try to reach religious ecstasy by the dancer. We had a great time, our waiter "Antonio" was very funny and should be a comedian but he is "scared of the microphone" (as he put it) so he says he will stick to being a waiter. I had a chicken kabob that was great. We then sat back and started to smoke some strawberry flavored tobacco from a big water pipe (hookah). It tasted great, I now understand why you see people just hanging out in a cafe having some coffee and smoking. It was a great way to relax and chill out. We stayed for about 4 hours just eating, drinking tea, talking and hanging out. I would have never found out about this place without Irem. It helps so much to have a local guide for a city like this.

OK time for me to get going.

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