Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Beautiful Blue Mosque, the Bosphorus and more

Our second day in Istanbul fell on Eid, the biggest festival in the Muslim year.   Everything was closed except for the mosques so all the tourists descended upon the Blue Mosque, the only landmark open.  The lineups to get in were around the block but it was worth the wait. The mosque was gorgeous although the area fenced off for worship was empty.  Somehow the visit to the New Mosque the previous day seemed more meaningful because we saw people at worship whereas the Blue Mosque, deprived of worshippers, was just another beautiful building, albeit a magnificently beautiful one.

Whirling Dervishes on the fountain in the courtyard

Lone figure in the worship area inside the mosque

Yes, one couldn't help but gawk at the magnificence!

Here come the next target - on one of the touristy backstreets

A streetside pomegranate juice presser - no seeds to remove, juice in a minute!
To make best use of our time in Istanbul, we booked ourselves on a half day cruise up the Bosphorus Straits in the afternoon since there was nothing else open.  It was a perfect sunny day for a cruise and we saw not only the interesting bridges and landmarks on both sides of the straits, but also saw them in a changing light as the cruise went from early afternoon to dusk.  The boat was full and afforded great people watching opportunities as well as allowing us to mingle with fellow tourists, some more pleasant than others. 
Great views on both sides of the Bosphorus

A half-finished bridge at the entrance to the Black Sea

We caught a glimpse of the Black Sea at the farthest point of the cruise before we were dropped off in the so-called "fishing village" of Anadolu Kavagi.  All we saw were seafood restaurants and shops on our walkthough.  It was here also that we were impressed by the innate sense of responsiblity some people had.  I had left a tote bag on the upper deck of the boat when we went downstairs for lunch.  I told the little boy sitting beside us to keep an eye on it as it marked our seats.  When we were told we could spend an hour in the fishing village and that we would be going back on the same boat, I left my bag on the boat.  The little boy's father came running through the village with our bag thinking that we had forgotten it.  We apologized for inconveniencing him and bought candy for the boys, visiting from Saudi Arabia.  It was a pleasant encounter for us.

The highlight of the stopover for us was a little mosque - we tiptoed in through the open door and admired the beautiful tiled mihrab.  It was quite an adventure for us simply because it was unattended and we felt like we were intruding even though we behaved ourselves, took our shoes off and pulled on our scarves.   We were struck by the intimacy afforded by this one-room mosque - what a difference from the magnificent Blue Mosque we saw earlier in the day.

The "fishing village" of Anadolu Kavagi

Mihrab in the little mosque in the village

On the way back -  skyline of the new part of Istanbul

Bosphorus Bridge linking Europe and Asia

Istanbul silhouetted at dusk - perfect end to the day

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