Why am I posting pictures of breakfast? Because in regular life I don’t have breakfast; I wake up just before lunch. On this trip I need fuel. Right after breakfast I’m getting in the van with my luggage to visit three sites, then have lunch, then go to the airport to catch the 1500 flight to Izmir.
The new hotels in Istanbul are close to an old, run-down area of town which is undergoing redevelopment. Apparently rich people are buying up the land and constructing commercial complexes. Check back in in a few years.
When I see people leaning over a bridge looking at the water, I automatically think a corpse has floated up. This is a much more pleasant scene: People fishing on a Sunday morning. They catch bonito, tuna, mackerel, bluefish and other migratory species. When the fish from the Black Sea migrate to the warmer Aegean, they have to crowd into the Bosphorus strait, where anglers are waiting.
First stop: the Blue Mosque, known to locals as the Sultanahmet. Tourists refer to it by the beautiful blue tiles inside the building. Built in the 17th century, the mosque is still in use; tourists are allowed when there are no services. Note the people massing in the courtyard and the cat strolling past them as if he owns the place.
Shoes are not allowed inside the mosque: you have to take them off at the threshold and carry them. I have to find a place to sit and unzip my snug, heavy boots then stuff them into a tiny plastic bag.
It’s like vertigo, except that you’re looking up. If I recall Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red correctly, figurative representation is not allowed; instead they have exquisite miniatures, mosaics, calligraphy.
In the spring the garden is resplendent with tulips. We think of tulips as Dutch, but they were first cultivated in Turkey during the Ottoman Empire. The bulbs arrived in Holland during the 16th century and tulip mania exploded.