Eighth Day of Cruise — Istanbul
Today we leave the EUR zone, and have to pick up a lot of Turkish Lira to be able to tour sites. Elsewhere we have been spending EUR on transport, but seeing the sites for free. Here we will be getting around for free (walking) but spending Turkish Lira for access to sites.
So we pulled out 300 TRY from the ATM, and walked from the terminal to the bridge across the Golden Horn and into the old town. The bridge had a lot of restaurants on the underside. They weren’t open for the most part on the way out, but on the way back they were, and we walked by a lot of waiters trying to get us to sit down in their restaurants. If they’d only known that offering fish to Betsy is the best way to get her to NOT dine there, they might have tried another tactic. Not that it would have done any better for us at that point, on the way back to the ship as we were.
Steve’s book wasn’t helpful in several points today. There were several times in crossing the bridge and heading on up to the Sultanhamet park that his writing assumed you did something or didn’t. We would discover later “now there is where we were supposed to be when he said that,” etc. But between the book and the maps we had no problem making it to the park.
His book said that the Blue Mosque would be closed longer over lunch for the midday services on Friday. Actually, it was closed all day until 2:30 p.m. But we didn’t find that out until we saw the Gillespies and dad arriving at the park just after we did, and walked over to mosque where we saw the signs.
So everyone decided to come back to the mosque later. The Gillespies said they would head to the Bazaar, which was not on our itinerary. We did the walking tour around the square, which started with the Underground Cistern, and decided to go into the cistern. It was nice and cool down there. It was fun watching the fish. We didn’t stand in the line to see the Medusa head.
I have this feeling I’ve been in a cistern like that before. Trying to figure out why.
Betsy said the pillars, without water, remind you of Moria, from the Lord of the Rings movies, in a way. Not sure it is what I was thinking, but I can see the comparison.
From there we toured the rest of the outside walk, seeing the Egyptian and Constantine obelisks, and the snake head bronze without snakeheads. In the same area we found some nice shops, and picked up a couple of scarves to use as head coverings for the mosque.
Then we got in line for the Sofia. Ticket prices were higher than Steve’s said. The church had a lot of water damage on its ceilings and wall mosaics. Some very nicely restored sections, and a lot of restoration still obviously in progress.
From there we walked to the Palace, and found that the price was too high for us to purchase tickets with the TRY we had remaining. I had factored a buffer in, but not enough for both price inflations.
But it was getting close enough to time for the mosque that we wouldn’t have had a lot of time to tour the palace (2 hours minimum was recommended, and we only had about an hour until the mosque was open).
So we walked back to the mosque and waited for it to open, constantly getting directed around the building until we were on the opposite side to enter from what Steve’s instructions indicated we should enter by. They had loaner robes for the women, but Carly and Betsy’s scarves passed, so they didn’t need them, all they had to do was to take off their shoes, like Nathan and I did.
The inside was in excellent shape, since it is in continual use. But the murmur inside was quite loud for a place where people were supposed to be quiet. You could see why it was called the Blue Mosque, with the prevalence of the blue tiles.
When we exited we gave a 10 TRY note donation for the mosque and received a receipt ticket for the same.
Then we walked back to the ship. On the way down we stopped at a sweet shop I had seen on the way out, and I purchased everyone a small piece of lemon Turkish Delight from a log that she cut them off for us. It was quite enjoyable, sweet but not sugary, as Nathan said. Everyone was allowed to choose one more. Nathan chose apple, Carly something that she said was like a smore, and Betsy and I had a chocolate and Hazelnut pastry. That was more sugary sweet.
On the way to the boat we were along the final road leading up to the ship, and I saw a guy walk by and drop the brush from his shoe shine kit. I said, Pardon, and pointed it out, and started to walk off. He wanted to thank me and offered on him to shine the shoes, and his friend came along and did Betsy’s, and then Nathan’s. Then he started talking about his expected child and a cesarean, and then talked about cost, and I heard 18, and tried to give him a 20 TRY, but he said it was 80, and then for both. I ended up giving him 120 TRY, what I had, and he took it.
Then his friend dropped his brush and we made sure he remembered it. But it was probably a scam, because his friend would have reminded him of the brush if I hadn’t. I just should have given him the 20 and walked off. Just not smart about those things. That price is more than people were selling shoes for in Istanbul. No way people would be paying that much for a shine.
Back on the ship I got a swim and then we changed for supper. Nathan dined at Raffles, while the other three of us went to Windows.
Kent and I then went up to Cagneys at 7, to make arrangements for paying for Mom and Dad’s meal there. Tonight was the night they took our offer to treat them to the steak house. Kent somehow let the staff know it was for their 50th anniversary, in December, which we were all celebrating on this cruise. The staff came out and sang “Let Me Call you Sweetheart,” which was apparently Mom’s parent’s song, so it was really touching for her. And the staff told them what good son-in-laws they had. So that worked really well. They both apparently enjoyed their Prime Rib too.
We went to the show tonight — Marionettes. They were a very good show, but we were put off by three of the scenes, which involved stripping. Why did they have to put those into a show that was otherwise very kid and adult friendly?
We found Carly at the Marionette show, then she went roaming afterwards, while I took another swim, and then Betsy and I had a snack at Raffles, where we found Nathan. After Betsy headed downstairs, Nathan found Carly, and she joined Nathan and I in finishing our snacks. We had a fun time of guessing movies someone was thinking about, a sort of 20 questions game (we had also played that with Carly during dinner).
The one other comment I need to make about the day is the effect of my red goatee. It seems to be a magnet for people trying to hawk things, whether the tour vendors or the waiters. They make a comment about liking the red beard, then ask if I want a tour or to dine, buy, etc. It certainly isn’t the way to avoid them and be inconspicuous.