Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Turkish Delight

   It's about time I mentioned my time in Turkey. Really, I was just in Istanbul which is just the tip of the Ottoman iceberg. Nevertheless, I certainly still got a feel for the place. Full of surprises and contrasts, overall a delightful destination. Too bad the sun refused to show its face for the 4 whole days I was there. Somehow a cruise on the Bosphorus river did not seem so appealing with in the rainy cold...who new that's what a Mediterranean spring could be like. By far the most striking element of ye olde Constantinople is just that - it's SO ancient! Trust me, in comparison to this nation, the founding of America happened yesterday. Visiting the Aya Sophia (Hagia Sophia, in Greek), was simply humbling. It's only 1600 years old! No big deal. The cathedral, turned mosque, turned museum is pictured below. Love them chandeliers. Also below is the Basillica Cistern, an underground reservoir built by the Romans, made famous by the oh-so-classic James Bond, From Russia With Love! In the film, James and his counterpart use the citern to spy on the Russian consulate which is conveniently located above.  Not quite as much intrigue when I was there, but it was still super exciting! 
   Apart from the city being a living artifact, if you are into finely made goods, do drop by the Grand Bazaar. An indoor marketplace, also centuries old,  it houses purveyors of quality textiles, linens, silver, gold, jewelry, antiques, and traditional-ish housewares. I take that back, if you are into jewelry like myself, you may actually want to skip it, because you will want to buy everything. I did emerge with some treasures - the earrings and pendant pictured below. The silver earrings are a gift for my sis. The goldtone ones are vermeil but are so great since they are a less flashy gold hue plus they are light weight. I had been looking for a tassel pendant for quite some time and this one was worth the wait as it goes with everything. I chose an extra long chain which gives it a very modern look. There were miles and miles of gemstone baubles as well but I would not have even known where to start. On my last day I came across some tiles which were the best deal I had seen yet. While certainly far from being handcrafted, the Islamic designs were very compelling and will make for a great memento. Too pretty to be used for their intended purpose as trivets, these babies are going on a wall, preferably the outdoor patio wall of my dream home.

Images via: Me
From the top:
1) My Turkish finds and the Basilica Cistern.
2) View of the Sultanahmet neighborhood from across the channel in Beyoğlu.
3) Lovely lanterns that I could not take home with me (too breakable for travel!).
4) Well-fed felines who rule the city.
5) Coutyard in 
6) The obligatory afternoon tea.
7) Inside the Aya Sophia from the balcony.
Gülhane Park outside Topkapi Palace.
9) The Grand Bazaar.

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