A Little Taste of Istanbul

11/25 – I love our little Hotel Buhara. They provide a lovely breakfast of tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, hard boiled eggs, grapes, clementines, olives, yoghurt, and Nescafé. This morning we met a young man from Malaysia and a couple from Iran. It’s nice to be in a place where people have a little English and we can share friendly conversation.

Today we had our pictures taken for the visas we will need as we move east, and learned to navigate the Metro so we could get to the Chinese Consulate to apply for a visa to mainland China. An hour’s ride north to the end of the Metro line was all for naught – the visa office is only open from 9am to noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There was no indication of this on the Consulate website, and they don’t answer their phone or email. Oh well, we’ll try again tomorrow.

We took in some sights and aromas of Istanbul. The Suleiman Mosque:

We noticed that stray cats are well cared for here – welcome inside the mosque and fed by passersby. This mosque has ostrich eggs included in their light fixtures to keep away spiders, according to the helpful mosque volunteer who answered our questions.image

The female volunteers said the question they are most often asked is why females can’t pray in the same area as males. They explained that when fervently praying, they don’t want to have to worry about brushing against a man. It is more comfortable to pray with other women. The Qur’an says: “do not annoy women as to make their lives miserable.” Well said.

The Grand Bazaar:

Many people wanted to sell us blue jeans or carpets. You can buy everything from cheap trinkets to diamonds and furs. It goes on for blocks, with shops both inside and outside. I was especially attracted to the glass lamps and colorful ceramics.

There are restaurants one after another on our street, and we both love Turkish food. We are having a wonderful time here – Turkish Delight, anyone?

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