Istanbul: Day Two

It’s been a rough one, folks.

I went to bed at around midnight last night and woke up suddenly at 2 AM. I could not fall back asleep to save my life. Instead, I descended into a cycle of: lying awake in bed -> watching hockey -> YouTubing hockey fights -> pondering my life choices and wondering what my purpose is on this earth. Y’know, the usual things people do in the middle of the night.

So needless to say, I’m absolutely exhausted. This is probably the poorest I’ve adjusted to any time change–possibly because it’s the biggest time difference I’ve ever experienced. In any case, I got out of bed and got ready in the morning, determined to make the most of things in spite of the fact that I feel like a human dumpster fire.

I visited the Istanbul Archaeological Museum first. Since the primary reason I wanted to come here in the first place is history, as you could imagine, it was totally my jam. I took way too many pictures, but here are a few I think are cool:

It’s a crazy well-done museum; they had artifacts from early human history through the Roman era and of course, the sultans. I spent about two hours there but could easily have spent more.

Next I went to the Blue Mosque. This is when I started having a tough time, unrelated to jet lag. There are young Turkish guys all over Sultanahmet who will come up to tourists, start asking you questions, then invariably lure you into to their family’s carpet shop or propose to be your tour guide (for a fee, of course). Apparently I look super Spanish–the owner of my hostel also commented that I dress like an Argentine (?)–because people have been approaching me all day saying, “Buenos Dias!” I even told one guy I was American and he cocked his head at me and asked, “But what is your background? South America?” More fun with my apparent ethnic ambiguity 🤷‍♀️

Anyway, I was basically bombarded by these dudes all morning and started getting really annoyed and frustrated. I know these guys are just being friendly/curious and trying to make a living, but it started wearing on me. Finally, one of them remarked, “You look angry!” and I barked back, “I am angry!” He turned away and left after that, but I felt bad, especially because there aren’t many Americans here and I didn’t want to be a jerk. After I had calmed down a bit, I decided to start having fun with it instead. Now I just pretend that I don’t speak English at all, and since I do happen to know an obscure foreign language, I just respond to everything they say in Albanian and they get weirded out and leave me alone. I even pretended to actually be Spanish when some women approached me asking for directions–I totally pulled it off and had fun with it!

Needless to say, I have one day left in Sultanahmet and will be happy to get some distance from the super touristy places even though I have loved all the history here.

Below is me at the Blue Mosque. I didn’t go inside because I was wearing sandals and they make you take your shoes off before going in so I had to go back to my hostel and get some socks, because there’s no way I’m getting Hepatitis A, B, C, or G from that floor. But BOTH times I came back they were closed for prayer. This is due to the fact that I can’t do basic math and convert a 24-hour clock to a 12-hour one.

So I will have photos from the inside of Blue Mosque tomorrow. 🙂

The Hippodrome, or the giant chariot racing arena in ancient Constantinople, has now been converted into a modern plaza. There are a couple obelisks, one from Rhodes and one from Egypt that’s like a bajillion years old:

Dope.

Next I went to the Mosaic Museum…which is exactly what it sounds like. All the pieces were taken from the imperial palace and are in good condition considering they’re 1,000 freaking years old.

Last, I went to the Grand Bazaar. To be honest, it was a bit overwhelming considering all the hundreds of shops crammed together and various shopkeepers trying to get your attention. There is a lot of jewelry and knick-knack souvenirs sold there, which I’m not really interested in, but there’s also an “Old Bazaar” section that has antiques that I think I’ll go back and hit up once I’m in more of a shopping mood. Just an FYI to anyone I told I would bring stuff back for: I’m super bad at buying souvenirs and gifts in general, so just let me know if you want something and what you want, and I’ll get it! Otherwise there’s no guarantee I’ll come home with anything…

As for how I ate today…it was pretty great. I had borek for breakfast (as opposed to byrek, the Albanian version I had in Peace Corps) which is phyllo dough stuffed with various things (cheeses, meats, etc.). It was oilier than its Albanian counterpart but still really good.

I also had Turkish ice cream, which is thicker and almost gummier–is that a word?–than regular ice cream. The chocolate flavor I got was insanely rich but I ate every bite.

For dinner I went to a local “lokantasi” which is like an ala carte restaurant. I pointed to a yellow rice dish and some mystery meat that looked good, grabbed a hunk of watermelon and the most obnoxiously fresh, crisp bread ever made, and treated myself to a delicious and cheap Turkish meal. Sadly I don’t know what it’s called, but it was totes yums.

Tomorrow I’ll be hitting up more museums (yes, more museums), another mosque, and more old marble blocks of stuff. Hooray, being a nerd!

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