Inside the Blue Mosque and the train to Ankara

Trip Start Feb 23, 2008
Trip End Jun 05, 2008

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Flag of Turkey  , Ankara,
Friday, April 11, 2008

We met in the basement fairly early for brekky - they even had cereal here which after a few months of bread bread and bread is pretty worthy of a diary mention!    After packing our bags and putting them in storage we made the short walk to check out the Hippodrome - a place of many chariot battles.   Its just ruins of rocks in a kind of circle, a lot of houses and hotels have been built over it...   Right next to the Hippodrome is a huge Obelisk that was carved in Egypt and transported to Istanbul back in 390 AD - an amazing feat for it to remain intact !   It was cut down in size during transportation... 
Next stop was the Blue Mosque -- this amazing building took 10 years to build between 1606 - 1616 ... Taking our shoes off we entered behind the plastic.   It is huge inside but not as grand as Aya Sofia -- that has no columns supporting its huge dome -- the ones supporting the Blue Mosques domes are massive.   There are tens of thousands of blue tiles that line the interior.  The lights are suspended from structures that hang from the ceiling - they almost look like chandeliers..  We could only go into half of the building so taking a pic showing its huge size was a little difficult.  
After I left i met some of the group at a sweet shop called Mado where i had my first taste of authentic baklava and boy it was good!    A few of the others had gone off to see things i had already seen so so just chilled and chatted.   When we were a full group again we walked back to a restaurant near our hotel and had some great grilled chicken with bread bread bread... We accidentally missed our ferry so we waited and looked around the shops then caught a 3pm boat for a cruise down the Bosphorus.    We took off and passed under the Galata Bridge, past all the fisherman and caught some great views of all the minarets of the many mosques in Istanbul.    The water was calm and the air crisp and we soaked it up... we went past the huge Dolmabahce Palace - an imperial residence.   The harbour is very pretty and i recommend taking a ferry - in parts it reminds me of Sydney with its waterfront housing and apartments and hillsides....   Plenty of little fisherman in their putt putt boats.   One small bay we passed had huge sailing boats moored in it and huge cliffs in the background -- looked like Monte Carlo.   
We docked back at the station then headed to see the Grand Bazaar.    I bought some small evil eye magnets and we checked out the ceramic bowls and the metal whirling dervish men... all mentally stored for when i return to Istanbul in 3 weeks....  I didn't meet the other for dinner - I went to the supermarket and stocked up on snacks for our train trip then had a corn cob and went to check out Gulhane Park... i took some self portraits with the tulips in bloom then met the group back at the hotel where we picked up our bags and walked down to the ferry....we needed an apple tea on there to stay warm on the ride over to the train.   It left at 10pm for Ankara - 4 to a berth and they had sliding doors to keep people out and our bags locked in... We chilled for a bit and 2 of the older chicks got out a bottle of Baileys and we jumped in our bunks just after 11am.... This train is 5 star compared to Indian railways... (not as interesting though!)..
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