Today I walked for about 10 hours and I did not get tired until I put the key in the door of my room at the Grand Hotel de Londres. It was amazing today. I have never seen such a place and I have never ever seen such things. You see these things in books, or in the collections of a museum, but to see them in context. It completely boggled my mind. I found it very hard to take photos today because I did not want to distance my self from what I was seeing. I heard someone say, "Wow, that's a great photo," while he was looking at something. I thought, does he even see it? It is right in front of him. (In this case, the "it" is the mosaic of the Archangel Gabriel in the secondary dome of Aya Sofya.) At that point I really tried not to think about documenting or preserving. I just wanted to look with my eyes.
I developed this plan. I would take the time to go through a situation twice. Once without taking my camera out and the second time I would allow myself to take as many photographs as I wanted.
So many different things today. The mosaics at Aya Sofya and the Kariye Museum were astounding in their visual power, even in their ruined state. The massiveness of the Aya Sofya on the outside compared to the empty soaring space on the inside. The building is like a huge balloon. I will go back and see it again (and again). You cannot imagine the airy feeling of the place. And it is made of ROCKS; lots of them in the Byzantine fashion. The tomb of Suleiman the Magnificent and the mosque that bears his name. The courtyard of the Blue Mosque filled with people answering the call to prayer. Eating on the street just like I do in New York because the food is so good and so cheap. Tea everywhere and every language spoken all over the place.
I got very lost and I did not care. I crossed from my neighborhood in Beyoğlu into what I thought was Sultanahmet and got promptly lost in Fatih. So many full sized billboards of women in headscarves and fashionable clothing that covered their entire bodies. It was amazing to go from that to the stylish and beautiful women in other parts of the city.
Tomorrow I have no idea what is to come. I am thinking of having a tour, but it was so much fun and thrilling to get lost here I may do it again tomorrow. I think I will stay on this side of the Golden Horn tomorrow and see what my neighborhood has to offer. Although, I do want to go see the Basilica Cistern tomorrow, since the Blue Mosque is closed.
Leaving the Hippodrome today, a carpet seller chatted me up. I told him I am from America and he laughed and said that he could tell. He wanted to know if this was my first time in Turkey and I told him yes it was but it won't be the last. He said I had a very kind and happy face. I thanked him and told him that while I would love to see the carpets he had, I unfortunately had no money. "No money, no honey," he said. And we laughed and parted.
I think this might explain the staring. At dinner at an AMAZING kofte house a number of people where staring at me through the window. The waiter even commented, "Do you know them?" I told him no, but maybe they want to know me. He laughed. Living in America, I am always on my guard against people looking at me the wrong way. Maybe now, far away from home, I can walk around with a smile on my face and people respond to it. Go figure.