Thursday, August 7, 2008

Turkey - Day 3

Topkapi Palace & The Blue Mosque ...

We were having our morning breakfast and halfway through Carol was screaming.
“Havi! What are you doing here? The whole bus is waiting for you guys” There goes, the whole restaurant looked at us.

“Yes, mummy” we packed up red-faced.

First stop, the Topkapi palace. The palace was constructed around 1472 and housed the Sultan and its administration.

Golden carvings and details of just a ceiling

The highlight of the palace was the Ottoman treasures. Seen on the (left) is the entrance of the Conqueror's Pavillion where it leads to the Ottoman treasures. Keep your eyes peeled with all the bling-blings of the ancient world. The blings you see could not beat any of those bling-blings in Lil’ John’s videos. Everything is made of diamonds, pearl, ruby, sapphire, turquoise, jade and other precious stones. Gold are only used to hold the precious stones together. Everything the Sultan uses were made of jewels. From cups, pens, bottles, beds, arrows & bow and even baby cribs. The Sultan’s costumes were adorned with hundreds of precious stones. I wonder, why would a person wear such a heavy suit?

We came across a cup decorated with excessive jewels. I was thinking, what if one of the stones came off and got swallowed with the drink?

Headline : King chocked from drinking a diamond fallen from his golden cup

Bayazid told us if Turkey were to sell the Ottoman treasures, it will clear all Turkey’s debt and feed it’s nation for 50 years! Yeah, I guess so.

One of the star attractions were 2 chandeliers heavily decorated with diamonds! 1 chandelier weighted 56kg of diamonds and gold. After quite sometime, it gets too crazy. I’ve never seen so much diamonds in my life. It’s like stumbling into the Ali Baba’s cave of treasures. I tried to look in the web to get some pictures of the treasures, however, no pictures means no pictures. If you are interested, you have to go all the way to Turkey to see it for yourself.

Water elements are placed around Topkapi palace as a source of "music"

The palace has a platform which offers a spectacular breezy view of Istanbul. Too bad the pictures were taken by shaky hands and didn’t turn up right. But I bet you, the place looks so much nicer if you see it for yourself.

We had some stops in some historical landmarks nearby where we see the the Obelisk of Theodosius and Column of Constantine. Next stop, the Blue mosque.

Blue mosque (above) -Before entering the Blue mosque, tourist have to wrap their shoes with plastic bags. Don’t worry you don’t have to take off your shoes and fear that your smelly feet will pollute the air around. All you need to do it to wear the plastic bag on top of your shoes.

The Blue mosque was flocked with tourists! Although it is a mosque, but its adorned with colourful tinted windows. Just like a church. It’s amazing to see worshippers engulfed in their prayers despite the hordes of tourists looking at them. The mosque was magnificent. Blue mosque actually got its name from the blue-tiled walls. In the olden days, it is very rare to get blue tiles and the blue tiles simply gave a blue hue to the entire mosque.

Far down, I saw a man arching his back almost doing a gymnastic pose amongst the worshippers. It’s pretty strange to see such kind of depth a person will put into his prayers. I asked Su, is that how people make special prayers? Su was like, Oi! He is not praying! He is taking pictures of the ceiling!

Lunch served the juiciest chicken chunks with rice with something that looks like Tosai (see pix). After lunch, we immediately depart to Canakkale. The start of one of the many boring and seems like never ending road trips. Along the way, Bayazid entertained us with some history of Turkey. Bayazid started his story…

“Turkey has one of the biggest army in the world. Unlike certain country where National Service is optional, every single man in Turkey will be recruited into the National Service. It has become a culture in Turkey where if one wants to become a man, they have to go through 2 stages in their life. One is circumcision and the next is to complete his National Service. Why Turkey needs such a big army? If one take a look at the map, you can see that Turkey is surrounded by war ridden countries. On top of that, Turkey does not have good relation with any of its neighbours apart from Greece.

Once upon a time, Greece and Turkey are enemies. The situation becomes worse during the world war.

Bayazid was telling us the friendly war between Turks and the Greeks. They will have war in the morning and at a certain point of the day, there will be breaks.

Times up! Cigarette time!

Off they go taking some rest in between smokes. There are times when the Turks ran out of matches to light up a puff, they will borrow some matches from the Greeks on the other side. Then, they will play some football and when break time is over, off they go again. Killing each other. Bizarre? I definitely would think so!

We finally reached Cannakale. We took a ferry across Dardanelles. It was the chilliest ferry ride. Su & I had a cup of Turkish coffee to warm up and went out to enjoy more of the chills. The wind was so hard and the ferry rocking against the current, we need to stay away from the sides else we can get toppled over board. I cant imagine being submerged into the icy waters … something like the Titanic! It was late in the evening where we arrived and spent a night in Iris Hotel Cannakale.

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