Istanbul Day 4 – Featuring the Aya Sofya, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Lunch on the Sea of Marmara, Skyping and a final Turkish Dinner at Urfali Haci Usta.

Quick post here…  Pix from our last day in Istanbul – We started with the Aya Sofya, which is considered Istanbul’s most famous monument and an excellent example of Byzantine Architecture.  It was completed in 527 AD and was the greatest church in Christendom until the Conquest in 1453 when it was converted into a mosque, which is what it was until 1935 when Ataturk apparently said, “Hey, quit fighting over it!” and  named it a museum.  It’s still a museum.   Here are some photos:

These giant doors were only opened for the King (not sure which king) - they're huge. You're going to freak when you see the room they opened into...

The space inside the dome is enormous - you stare up at it and think, "How on earth did they build something this big and airy in 532 A.D.?" Easy, hire the leading engineer and mathematicians as your architects.

Here's a shot of the dome.

Here's a detail shot of the ceiling - it's 185 feet from the floor.

Here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry on the Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) – it’s fascinating – I encourage you to take a look.  After Aya Sofya, we went into the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts where there was a beautiful exhibition celebrating the 1400th anniversary of the Qur’an.  Here’s a photo of one from around 400 A.D.:

There were easily 20-25 Qur' an's in the exhibit - just beautiful.

After the museum we went down to the Sea of Marmara for a late lunch at one of the restaurants connected to the big fish market.

This woman was fishing with her children. It's the same place I watched the men fish two nights before. I guess it's okay for women to fish earlier in the day??? Or she was an adventurous woman?

Sardines? Anchovies? No idea - but I saw them everywhere.

More fresh fish - I wonder which one we'll have with our lunch???

We've chosen our restaurant - great view...

We started with the fish soup. Mmmmm... brothy, with vegetables and nice chunks of fish.

And the grilled "tonne" which I think is tuna, but it was hard to tell. It was GOOD!

The meal was excellent, but I was intrigued by what was going on back outside at the fish market where men were grilling fish fillets and making quick sandwiches.  So…  I had to get one.

Sizzles on the griddle...

A little salt...

And this was delicious - another quick and easy item that would be a hit at the Fall Festival (if there was some fresh fish around).

We met back at the Apricot Hotel to meet with Lynn and Hakan and Skype and with Margaret’s parents.  Lots of fun.

James, Hakan, Lynn and Margaret have a lively Skype session with Margaret's mom and dad. It's a great way to stay connected.

And later that night (our last night in Istanbul), Lynn took us to a traditional Turkish restaurant called Urfali Haci Usta.  Here are some pix – it was AMAZING!

Enough food?

The most unusual part of the meal was the yogurt drink called “Ayran” you see in the copper cups.  It’s ice-cold and foamy and tangy and meant, I think, to cool off your palate after a hot bite.

The Ayrans arrive.

Then dessert — another novelty for me.  This is a crispy, honey-sweet pastry with cheese inside and crushed pistachios on top.  It may have been called a Kunefe.

I think this is called a Kunefe - it's wonderful.

That’s it for Istanbul – we left on Monday and headed to Athens.  Athens pix to come soon…


About patster66

I'm visiting Pécs, Hungary with my wife and son for the Fall 2010 semester. My wife, Margaret McMullan, received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and do research at the University of Pécs. My 13 year old son is attending a semi-bilingual school here called the ANK where I am teaching English Language and Drama to 4th - 8th graders 2 days a week.
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5 Responses to Istanbul Day 4 – Featuring the Aya Sofya, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Lunch on the Sea of Marmara, Skyping and a final Turkish Dinner at Urfali Haci Usta.

  1. Jamesy says:

    I agree the fresh fish sandwich would be a hit at the Fall Festival – IF they could cover it in chocolate and deep fry it and then serve it inside a freakin donut.
    Fantastic pics of Hagia Sophia – absolutely amazing. Wonderful posts from your Turkish vacation Pat – thanks a lot!

  2. Sean says:

    I had to fish sandwiches served off a boat down there. I was going to recommend them, but I heard they’d stopped selling them for health violations–I don’t know why really. In any case, I thought they (I had two of them) were some of the best things I ate. And they cooked them right on the boat with a big wood fire and a giant cast iron skillet that must have been ten feet across. Come to think of it, the big fire on the boat might have been the issue, but in any case, I’m glad you got one. Looks like you had a great time–can’t wait for pics from Greece. By the way, is that depth of field on the camera natural or is there some manipulation in there. The photos look fantastic.

    • patster66 says:

      Hey Sean,
      Re the DOF, I try to shoot most close-range pix with a 50mm 1.4 prime lens – when you shoot wide open (at f1.4), you get a sliver of focus, which can really make the shots pop. Plus I say a secret magic word right when I press the shutter, which also helps.

  3. Jacqueline says:

    I visited Istanbul and Ankara for a few weeks earlier this year, so it brings back such memories to see your photos. We of course visited the Aya Sofya – so lovely!

  4. I saw your blog on Freshly Pressed and I really love it. I’m also living in Europe for a while and trying to take a lot of short weekend trips. I’ve looked through so many of your posts already because I want to go all of these places and your pictures are wonderful! I’m currently planning a trip to Istanbul – I can’t wait. I’m sure I’ll be back at your blog many times.

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