Istanbul, Turkey
July 2000

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Eric went on business with Hall Taylor and Bill Fisher from July 6 through 12.  I joined them on July 12, and Eric and I stayed on until the 18th.  The weekend before I arrived, Hall & Eric hired a tour guide for a day.  The guy nearly wore them out, but they saw ALL the sights.  Then Eric got to go back and visit them all again with me after I arrived.  He should be able to lead the tour groups by now!

Istanbul is my favorite vacation spot of all.  I just loved it there.  Eric made friends with these people who owned a climbing store.  They didn't speak English, but rock climbing seems to be a universal language.  We spent a lot of time in Ortakoy, where the climbing shop was.  It was such a beautiful little area - lots of outdoor cafes overlooking the Bosphorus, where everyone was playing checkers and backgammon.  Oh, I'd go back in a heartbeat.  The people were friendly, the food was awesome, the city was beautiful - it was a wonderful trip.



 Here's Hall Taylor and their tour guide Here they are at Hagia Sophia

The Hippodrome - the outer part is gone now but it was once a gigantic stadium that held 100,000 people. Built in the 3rd Century A.D.  Chariot racing and royal ceremonies were held here.

This was a column they "relocated" from Egypt



On my first day in town we all took a cruise on the Bosphorus Hall & Eric on the boat, Hall is probably trying to suppress a smart remark

Dolmabache Palace, built in 1856.  Used as a more "Western" palace to entertain foreign representatives, replacing Topkapi Palace.

Bill, enjoying the record setting heat they had that week


The Fortress of Europe, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 as his first step in the conquest of Constantinople.  It was completed in only 4 months.

   This is a "yali", which means a fancy summer home for Istanbul's elite


A view of the Ortakoy mosque, or Mecidiye Mosque.  Built in 1855, it is located just beneath the Bosphorus bridge.

   A closer view of the Ortakoy mosque


A view of the Havana Club from the water.  There were several restaurants and clubs in this one spot. We ate at the Dragon, where Eric had become friends with the owner. Here we are at the Tandori, another restaurant where Eric was well known



Here we are at the Tandori

  Hall & I at the Grand Bazaar, established in 1453.  
  There are thousands of shops here.


This is a view from the Grand Bazaar from above - it's huge!

The entrance to a Turkish bath that Eric and Hall visited before I arrived.
Eric had an especially memorable experience there!


Constantine's Column - constructed in AD 330, it has survived both storm and fire.  It was constructed of porphyry brought from Heliopolis in Egypt.  In the year 415 the 10 stone drums were reinforced with metal rings, which were renewed in 1701.  

A variety of fantastic holy relics were supposedly entombed in the base of the column, including the ax that Noah used when building the Ark, Mary Magdalen's flask of anointing oil, and remains of the loaves of bread with which Jesus fed the multitude.  


To the far right is a view of Leander's Tower from our hotel.  Located on a small island, in the Golden Horn, it is known in Turkish as the "Maiden's Tower." 

The name is for a legendary princess said to have been confined here for her safety after a prophet foretold that she would die from a snake bite.  As luck would have it, a snake arrived in a shipment of food and delivered it's fatal strike.

A view of the pool from our hotel room at the Hilton.
The owner of the Dragon restaurant (who Eric was friends with)
had a private bungalow there.  He invited us in and gave us
free beer and shade.  It was very cool being a VIP for a day!


Yes, us at ANOTHER restaurant.  The food in Turkey was fantastic.
We're drinking apple tea - everyone drinks it over there.

 The view from our balcony at the Istanbul Hilton, 
where we stayed when Phillips was paying


The view from the window of the Hotel Nippon.  Notice
the scenery is different when we're picking up the tab!

A view of the sunset from the Hammam Club.


From the brochure of the club and it's "sister" clubs


Another view from the Hammam club, where we went with Hall.  
We moved between the five bars in this one area - my favorite being the one with low tables and pillows for chairs.


Views from the spice market and one of Hall & Eric at the entrance to the Harem


Hall, trying on his Fez and playing at being a bellboy

  Hall, now in full Elvis mode, wearing Eric's new jacket


Professional shots of the Bosphorus bridge and an example of the beautiful Iznik tiles which are used to decorate the mosques.


The Blue Mosque - built between 1601 and 1616 

It is named for the mostly blue tile work that decorates it's interior.


The domes and stained glass windows inside the Blue Mosque


 Professional shots of the inside of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque


 A professional shot of the Blue Mosque from above Below are scenes from Hagia Sophia, the "Church of Holy Wisdom."  Built in 537.

Christ on a throne with Emperor Leo VI kneeling beside him

Christ with Emperor Constantine IX and Empress Zoe

Among the world's greatest architectural achievements, this church was designed as an Earthly mirror of the heavens.

Now more than 1,400 years old, it stands as a testament to the sophistication of the 6th century Byzantine builders. 


The upper walls and domes were once covered in mosaics of gold.  Most have been covered over during renovation or when the church was converted to a mosque in 1453.

Eric looking over the balcony, under a great chandelier

The picture at right is of a giant, very thick iron door - one of many

Christ with the Virgin Mary & John the Baptist



Now we're at the Mosaics Museum or "Moxaik Muzesi" to the Turks

It was created by roofing over a part of the Great Palace of the Byzantine Emperors, which was discovered in the late 1930's.  In it's heyday the palace boasted hundreds of rooms, many of them glittering with gold mosaics.  

The museum is thought to have been the walkway leading from the royal apartments to the imperial enclosure beside the Hippodrome, 5th century AD.

Beautiful mosaic of Mary with baby Jesus in her lap


Eric using his hand for scale.  The tiles are 
about the size of your pinky fingernail.



Now we've moved on to the Basilica Cistern, or "Yerebatan Satayi"

This vast underground water cistern was laid out in 532.  For a century after the conquest, the Ottomans did not know of it's existence.  It was rediscovered after people were found to be collecting water and even fish by lowering buckets through holes in their basements.

This column shows a Peacock feather design

336 columns hold up the roof.  The builders were in a hurry so most of the columns were taken from other sites around the city.

 Two of the columns have big carved Medusa heads for bases,
here I am with one of them


And this is the other one... This is the Valens Aqueduct.  It was built in the 4th century AD as part of an elaborate water system for the Byzantine capital.  It carried water from 125 miles away.  It supplied the entire city's water until the late 19th century. 

Most restaurants have large outdoor seating areas.  Most of them also have cats who
are allowed to stay there to help keep rodents away.  This was a beautiful courtyard
at the hotel Yesil Ev where we had lunch and I also got bitten by one of the cats.


These are scenes of my beloved Ortakoy, a very nice neighborhood that we visited a lot (because the rock climbing store was there.)  We ate dinner at the cafe upstairs here.  Many people were playing games at the tables and just enjoying an evening outside with friends.

People walking around the riverside area near the cafes The view from the cafes and riverside area

Our day of climbing in the town of Gabze, at the "Bayramoglu Eskinisal" park area.


Our Turkish friends who took us climbing.  They owned the climbing store, Atolye, where we visited them many times.  They were not able to find a climbing guide for Eric, so they closed their shop for a day to take us themselves.

We were about an hour East of Istanbul, very near to where the worst of the 1999 earthquake hit.  They say one of the large rocks on these climbing bluffs fell down the hillside a few days after the earthquake.  That earthquake was a very terrible thing for the people in this area.

This is one of Eric's new Turkish climbing buddies.  Everywhere we go, all climbers look alike!

This is Haluk, the store owner, trying his hand at a climb


Me and Ceylan, the first kid I can actually hang out with!  I guess it helped that we didn't speak the same language.  

I think she thought of me as her "pet American."  She showed me around to other people as if she were saying, "I brought an American, what did you bring?"  

Neat shots of our new friend going down with his drill to set up a new route.  They are going to name the route "Atlas" because of a spot near the top where you can stop and hang your hands behind you to rest.

Eric with three of our new Turkish friends

Eric with our little buddy

Now we're back in Istanbul, and on a tour of Topkopi Palace


This display is said to contain the hand and occipital bones of John the Baptist

Mustafa III's full, diamond-encrusted suit of chainmail, and me


A view of the inside of the palace The Blue Mosque as seen from Topkapi Palace

Me at the entrance to the Harem At the Spice Bazaar, these are huge blocks of cheese inside goat hides - yummy!
That concludes our tour of Turkey today, but if I have my way, we'll be back again...

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