29 June 2012

A true city experience

A short run and a little bit of resistance training at a local park. I hope I didn't wake the homeless guy.

S slept in, so I took off early to Istanbul Modern, Turkey's only modern art museum. It features primarily work by Turkish artists, but there were a couple of western names in there as well.  The museum is a good size, and the permanent collection has a nice selection of painting, sculpture, video, photography, etc. No sound art, btw.  There were also a few temporary exhibits that were striking, particularly one about photography in Turkey.  Photographs were not allowed inside, but I snapped this from the deck of the museum cafe.  Beautiful!

Apres museum, I grabbed a bite (meat-and-egg pide - thanks again Sinan!), picked up one garment that was getting altered, and headed back to the room to do some packing. S and I headed out shortly after to go to the Chora Museum. The building had originally been a church with some amazing mosaics, and when the Ottomans turned it into a Mosque, the mosaics had been whitewashed. Fortunately, they've been restored and are all sorts of wonderful!

This vaulted ceiling piece is about 12' square.

Cats are everywhere! This one liked to hang out where the altar would be.

This mosaic is in the back of the nave and is about 8'x6'

The mosaics are simply stunning. If you find yourself in Istanbul and like mosaics, check this place out.

BUT, if you do, you'll need to take a cab, and if you take a cab, be careful not to get ripped off like I did!  I got swindled for 50 lira today (about $27) from a duplicitous cabbie. Not the end of the world, but I'm still steamed about it.

The sneaky cabbie left S and I without cab fare back to the main part of the city, so we hotfooted it along the city walls to the nearest tram line. The tram was packed with rush hour riders, so we stood shoulder to shoulder with strangers for the whole 40-minute journey. Along the way to the tram station, we had found a bankomat for some cash, so we decided just to head back to Istiaklal Street to dine at Restaurant Vera, one of the places Anthony Bourdain ate at in the Istanbul episode of No Reservations. The food was excellent! Sarah enjoyed her spicy lamb dish, though she enjoyed my grilled meats more. The mezes were great (especially the white anchovies), though I was hoping they'd have some of the unusual dishes that they served A. B. (no such luck). Throughout dinner, S kept eyeing an old lady selling mini kleenex packs as she wandered up and down the street.

After dinner, we wandered down the street and stopped off for dessert (rice pudding for me, with a funky coagulated seal on top - yum!), then hopped the train back to the hotel.

It's 10pm here, and we need to be up in about 6 hours to get to the airport to catch our flight on time. Thanks, Istanbul, for an excellent visit!  We will be back!

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