Sunday, April 22, 2012
Now that I'm back home the scenery on the morning walk is much different, but it is good to be home. This morning I saw this large Cactus flower, I don't know the name of the Cactus but the flower is around eight inches in diameter and I remember from past years it blooms at night and usually for only one day so I went home for the camera. The bloom is a mass of white petals but the center is really extraordinary. Impossible to photograph due to the depth of field is to great for such close up work but it wouldn't be there tomorrow so had to try.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Just up from the hotel the road and walkways were torn up and being repaved. Hundreds of pallets of granite blocks of several sizes were being used to pave the streets and walkways with larger sizes being used for curbs and planter edges. The Hippodrome were the chariots used to race next to the Blue Mosque and the roads around it and parking lots for tour buses were also paved with granite blocks.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Sweet shops are popular, these two are at the tram stop nearest the hotel. Lots of sweets with honey, pistachios and other nuts, and fresh fruits. Fresh juice shops are also plentiful and the fresh squeezed orange or pomegranate juice is great.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
On all my trips in the Middle East the flight home has been out of Istanbul so the last several times that I have been to Istanbul I have stayed in the same hotel and the area around it has become my neighborhood. In the top photo my hotel is the brown wood building on the right side of the street. The yellow building straight ahead is the Four Seasons Hotel.
The second photo is my grocery store and the blue awning to the right of it is Emre's gallery. Behind me as I took this photo is a cafe and if you walk to the back of it there are some wooden stairs that go down into a part of the Byzantium Palace that has been excavated. It was built of brick and this section has several domes built of brick. The palace was reported to be over a mile square and when the Four Seasons was building an addition they also found it went under their hotel. Like a lot of cities that are thousands of years old, Istanbul was just built over the top of what was there before. The owner of a carpet shop that first showed me this passage way said that one day an old man had come by his shop and told him that as a kid he had gone down a hole behind his shop and had been able to go all the way to the sea through underground ruins.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
The Constantine Art Gallery is owned and operated by my friend Emre and is just across the street from the Four Seasons Hotel. This is the hotel that used to be a prison that was featured in the movie Midnight Express. Emre wanted some photographs to use in a guidebook that he will be listed in so we did some photos. If your in Istanbul check it out, he makes the best cappuccino in town and will show you some of my prints.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
The Nusretiye Mosque is near the waterfront where the cruise ships dock. Built in the 1820s it is unusual in that the base of the dome is twice as high above the floor as the diameter of the dome making it a much taller looking structure than most mosques. When I walked up the steps to the courtyard it appeared that no one was there. Walking around the courtyard I ways unable to find any unlocked door but soon someone saw me looking in the windows and invited me in. The entrance was a large leather hanging drape that covered the entrance door. After being shown around I was given full access to photograph.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The Haghia Eirene was built in the 6th century and is the third building erected on what is thought to the oldest site of Christian worship in Istanbul. It never was converted to a mosque and today is used for concerts due to its excellent acoustics.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Monday, April 9, 2012
It is Easter weekend and although I have been here before at Easter this weekend there are a lot more tourists than I have ever seen before. It may seem strange that a Muslim country there would be a lot of tourist at Easter but throughout the Middle East you often see both Muslim and Christian on pilgrimages. I have been in the large mosque in the old city of Damascus when there were both Muslim pilgrims from Iran and Christian pilgrims from the west conducting services.
Actually, the number of tourists may be due to the amount of time some Europeans get off for the holiday. On the plane coming in I heard a tourist from Greece complain that they only had two and a half days off, one day less than in the past. The line to get into the Blue Mosque wrapped all the way around the courtyard yesterday so I walked out to a couple other mosque to due in some interior photos.
This mosque is the Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque which was built in 1571 and is several blocks down a steep hill behind the Blue Mosque. The medrese which still functions as a college is in the surrounding courtyard buildings. The blue tiles are the original Iznik tiles and set into the wall over the entrance there is a small piece of green stone which is from the Kaaba, the holy stone at the center of Mecca. The mosque was locked where I arrived but the caretaker soon arrived and opened it and gave me a tour even allowing me up to the upper level. Even with a 16mm lens it took two photos to get from the dome to the floor.
The past few days the weather had been warmer, around 70 degrees, and the tulips that were only buds when I arrived have gone into full bloom. The entire city is full of tulips as millions of bulbs have been planted. Last night we had a thunder storm and this morning it is 30 degrees cooler.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Every time I'm in Istanbul I stop at the spice market to get spices to take home. If you could can the smell in here it would be great. I have always hated the stores the have scented candles or other artificial odors but with all the spices in here they have it right.