Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Suleymaniye Mosque, New Mosque, Bosphorous Cruise and Hammam

Woke up late this morning, leg muscles a bit tight from so much walking. After breakfast, we set off for Suleymaniye Mosque which turned out to be closed for renovation. We bought a turkish coffee pot in the cooking implements quarter opposite a shop selling only eyes, and returned to the Galata Bridge via the plastic toys quarter and the clothing quarter. We visited Yenii Camii, the new mosque (only 400 years old!), then went looking for green plums near the grand bazaar. Our search for fruit was fruitless, but we grabbed a chicken kebab for Simon and a freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for me.

Went back to the cistern to meet Sophie and Carl and bought some roasted chestnuts, then walked back to the hotel for our cruise pick-up. Tilly made friends with the parrot in the Sapphire Hotel reception. Our tour guide turned out to have raced greyhounds in Reading and tried (and failed) to ingratiate himself with us by telling a story about ramming a police car while driving drunk. The tour first stopped at the spice market, where we bought some vanilla, then went to Kabatas to catch the boat.

It was an overcast day so not very warm but we braved the outside deck. There are some fantastic buildings along the coast, many very dilapidated, others with personal funiculars down to the beach. Coming back down the asian coast, we were lucky enough to see a school of dolphins.

When we got back we went for a drink opposite the hotel, then wandered towards Cemberlitas and found a restaurant for dinner. They provided a heater and pashminas so we could eat outside, but kept Sophie's card when she paid. She didn't notice until we got to the hammam, so we had to dash back. The waiter was most embarrassed. The hammam was great - we had the luxury package plus indian head massage and emerged feeling squeaky clean and relaxed. Everything was provided, including capacious pants to wear. I took the tram back to Gulhane, followed by a short walk through mostly deserted streets to the hotel.

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