This morning Jules, Isabelle, and I flew to Istanbul. I like my new, cool-looking Turkish visa sticker — which cost me $20 — in my passport.
The drivers here are ridiculously aggressive! There are lines which mark lanes just like home, but they seem to be painted in vain. Drivers are constantly changing lanes or driving down the middle of two. No one lets anyone into their lane, and everyone butts into other peoples' lanes.
We went to dinner at a place nearby that had very hospitable, funny waiters. We climbed four flights of stairs to eat up on the terrace with a beautiful view of the water, the Blue Mosque, and other portions of Istanbul's eclectic skyline of domed mosques, minarets, terraced buildings, and the Asian side of Istanbul across the water.
I like Turkish food. Even in meat dishes there are lots of vegetables. There are many different kinds of interesting breads (I need to learn the names). I like baklava and rice pudding for dessert. I enjoy finishing each meal with a small glass of Turkish tea.
Today we visited Topkapi Palace. It's vast with many courtyards and sections. The harem was mostly just a shell of a building. What really makes visiting the harem interesting is reading about the politics. The sultan did not usually choose his lovers, but his mother did. There were hundreds of concubines, but they were servants, not sex slaves. Black eunuchs were transported from North Africa to protect the women and run the harem administration. I can only imagine what tremendous power struggles went on between these women. There was a period of 150 years called “the reign of the ladies,” when generations of women wielded extraordinary influence over the Ottoman Empire. I think it would be fascinating to take a college history/gender studies course on the reign of the ladies.
There was this hall of holy relics which contained Muhammad's sandals, Moses' staff, Abraham's granite cooking pot, David's sword, and Joseph's turban. I really don't know if I believe, though, that all those things are actually what they claim to be. Still, it's incredible to think that what I saw could be the very staff with which Moses parted the Red Sea.
About This Entry
You are reading "Istanbul: A Spiky Skyline and Yummy Food", an entry posted on 07 August 2008 by Jackie Steves.