My Dogs are Barking

Posted from Istanbul, Turkey at 8:40 pm, July 18th, 2014

After walking all over Istanbul in the heat today I sat down while inside of the Archaeology Museum to rest my (very, very, very) tired legs and accidentally dozed off – I could be wrong, but I think that means I’m doing this adventure thing right.

It’s shockingly difficult to find a nice view of Istanbul’s Old City, but after scanning the horizon I noticed people dining on the roof of the Seven Hills Hotel and the day started with me heading over there to catch the morning light. Surprisingly they didn’t insist that I buy anything, and for the equivalent of a couple of dollars gratuity I started the day with a great view of the sea, the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia – there may be a return visit tomorrow.

From there the day of much walking commenced, with a journey across the Old City and through all manner of narrow alleys to the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Suleymaniye Mosque, Archaeological Museum, and along the waterfront. My expectations for the Grand Bazaar may have been a tad unrealistic – I imagined a labyrinth of shops straight out of the Arabian Nights, with artisans, exotic goods, hookahs, and maybe a camel or two. The labyrinth part was accurate and very cool, but the shops themselves were more flea market than Arabian Nights, and there wasn’t a camel anywhere to be found. The Spice Bazaar came closer to matching my imagination, with brightly colored bins of spices laid out in hundreds of stalls. Even better were the shops in the narrow alleys around the spice market, where labels weren’t printed in English and none of the goods were being sold pre-packaged in gift baskets.

From the Spice Bazaar it was uphill to the Suleymaniye Mosque, which is slightly older than the Blue Mosque, approximately the same size, equally as impressive inside, and filled with perhaps 1/20th as many tourists. Also, it’s less blue and more red.

The day finished with a slow meander towards the Archaeological Museum, through innumerable narrow cobblestone alleys, across public squares, and past all manner of shops. When finally it occurred to me that some sort of sustenance might be a good idea I ordered a kebab, and after I answered in the affirmative when the guy making it pointed to some french fries, I learned that in Turkey they are apparently toppings rather than a side dish, as they came wrapped inside of the kebab – yet another tiny reminder that I am far from home. Hopefully I can get my tired legs to cooperate and do a bit more wandering tomorrow, after which I fly out of Istanbul in the evening and head to the weird landscapes of Cappadocia for the second leg of this adventure.

Blue Mosque

The elusive Blue Mosque skyline view. Someday more owners of nearby buildings will realize that their rooftops are untapped gold mines, but until that day the Seven Hills Hotel will be my eatery of choice.

Spice Bazaar

Stall in the Spice Bazaar. When the labels on the spices are printed in English it is not-so-secret code for “you’re paying double”.

4 Responses to “My Dogs are Barking”

  1. Audrey says:

    Love the spices picture… I can almost smell them through the Interwebs.

    • ryan says:

      I so wanted to find a way to send you the smell of that place. The happiness level of your nose would have been at least an eleven.

  2. Lauren says:

    Thanks to Audrey, I can travel alongside Ryan and his expertly written travelog and beautiful pictures! Looking forward to future installments. Be safe, Ryan!

  3. Stan says:

    Glad you are doing this. Love the pics! Can’t wait to hear your stories when you get back.

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