Friday, June 12, 2009

Hasta la vista, Turkey

The Blue Mosque, cemetary, tomb of Sinan (the architect of Suleyman's Mosque), train station, tile museum and archaeological Museum.
Today I started out at the Archaeological Museum. Wow, there are things there from the early Mesopotamian and Anatolian cultures, some as old as 2700 BCE. What from our time will survive that long??? There is a group of sarcophagi found in 1880 in Sidon (now part of Lebanon). They were in 2 burial chambers and they are thought to belong to the Royal family of Sidon from the 4th century BCE. There were lots of other artifacts, a whole exhibit of things found in a bunch of wrecked ships. I liked that there were bins of pieces sitting out where you could see them. It helps you understand how much work goes into piecing some of this stuff back together for display. In the same compound is a museum of ceramics and tiles. Next I went to the train station. The Orient Express used to arrive here from Paris. There are still some cool items from that time on display. After that I walked through the spice market, what an experience for the senses. So much to see, hear and smell. Near the spice market I sat down in a little cafe for a snack. The waitress didn't speak much English. She asked me if I speak French. So I used bon, merci and sil vous plait. It worked well enough for me to get rice pudding and tea. After my break I walked to the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificant. I used my guide and map but kept having to stop and ask. I see a lot more this way than I would by using a direct route. I walked by the Barcelona Saray Hotel, which is where Joe and Hilla were staying when they met. I kept seeing minarets, thinking I was almost there. Except you can't swing a dead cat in this town without hitting a mosque. So I saw a bunch of others on the way. I was on a small street with all the bead shops, went into one and was starting to get the fever when the owner said "sorry madame, we are closing for prayers". Sure enough, I went out onto the street and shops were closed, displays were covered and all along the street were men on rugs and pieces of cardboard waiting for the call to prayer. When I finally got to Suleman's Mosque, most of it was closed for renovation. You can see the scaffolding on the minarets. Only one small part of an outer courtyard was open for prayer. From there I walked on to the Grand Bazaar. On my way I walked through a nearby courtyard where all the unlicensed peddlers gather to show their stuff. Just as I got there, the police arrived. You never saw people move so fast. Funny thing, they didn't leave, just packed their stuff up into a bad or briefcase and sat trying to look non chalant. It was like a game, I don't think the police wanted to arrest anyone, too much work and with the economy these guys are just trying to make a living. So the police sat and the peddlers sat, I wanted to see how it would play out but decided to press on. The Grand Bazaar was much more modern and commercial than I expected. More like being in a mall with shops selling everything from high end jewlery to trashy kitsch.
Well, I've been gone 3 weeks and am ready to head home. I have had an amazing, once in a lifetime experience. I feel so lucky to have been able to go so many places and see so many things. I met people from all over. I will miss the outdoor lifestyle people here enjoy. But am done living out of a suitcase, want my own bed, bath and food. Kimberly, if you are following, warn my kitties, they are going to get squeezed and I will wear them on my head like a hat if I can. It seems fitting that the trip that was instigated by Joe and Hilla's wedding should end here where it all began for them. I hope all is going well for them as they get ready to move to DC so Joe can start training.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this trip possible and to Wesley for teaching me to blog. Being able to keep in touch has helped stave off the loneliness from traveling alone. Aren't the internets wonderful? Hope you enjoyed traveling with me, I'll be home late Saturday. See you all soon, XOXOX Jax

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