Day 6 – Wednesday – was a long day for me. I was out and about the entire day – from 10am to 7pm… I did ride the tram once – which was excellent – but I spent the rest of the day walking. As it turns out, Old City Istanbul isn’t as big or as overwhelming as it may look on a map.
I was told by the chef at Cooking Ataturk that there was a small farmers market in the Hippadome area on Wednesday mornings. First, I couldn’t find this area on the map. The best way I can describe how to get there is for you to go to the back of the Blue Mosque and turn left and follow the curved road down.. You can’t miss it. This was a very small farmers market – maybe a dozen farmers showcasing their beautiful fruits, vegetables, and herbs. I purchased some mint and went on my way.
I then walked to the tram and took it to the Aksaray stop. The tram is sooooo clean. So modern. It was 4 Turkish Lira – you purchase a token and use the token to get into the waiting area. I was pleasantly surprised how civilized everyone is… when I was in Paris a few years ago, it seemed that all the locals would just hop the turn-styles. In San Francisco, no one pays any attention to others. Not here. People are friendly, they say hello to one another, and even let the older folks and little kids have the right-of-way. No pushing. No shoving. No jumping of turn-styles. And this was the natural way – there were no police officers with guns. This is just the way it is. Respectful, kind, genuine.
Once I got off the train I walked to the Fatih Mosque. I was told there was a much larger farmers market there. There was nothing but another gorgeous mosque and beautiful grounds. Here is one of the many doors that invite you to the center courtyard. Because there were no tourists there and it was out of the hustle and bustle of the Old City, it felt very peaceful. I sat on a park bench for 30 minutes, soaked in the sunshine, observed my surroundings, and watched silently as regular folks went about their daily business.
Here is a tree that bewildered me. This is a Çinar Tree – they are long living trees, can live anywhere from 700-1000 years. The Turks have a great respect for these trees, and some say they are marked as historical landmarks – Even after they die their trunks are left standing, protected, and thus continue to exist in the cityscapes and architectural complexes. This one, which exists on the Fatih Mosque grounds, is alive and well. It is absolutely stunning.
Because the walk from the Tram station to the mosque was a short 10 minute walk, I decided to walk everywhere… I meandered through the small winding streets from Fatih district to Eminönü where I planned to take a ferry to Katikoy – a city on the Asian side of Turkey. I didn’t have a set path, I just headed in the direction I needed to go and let the side streets of Istanbul lead the way. I was definitely out-of-place in some areas… I felt safe, and was in no way in danger. It was just clear to me and others that a) I was the only woman, b) I was white, and c) with my new Louis Vuitton Tote, I was a tourist. I didn’t want to do anything offensive so I was careful to not take many pictures. There were blocks and blocks of buildings where there were openings like this one – where homes and buildings destroyed in the last few earthquakes.
When I finally got to somewhere I recognized, it was the back of the Süleymaniye Complex. Somehow, unexpectedly, I stumbled across the tomb of Mimar Sinan. Mimar Sinan was a major architect during the Ottoman years and is responsible for the creation of the Süleymaniye Complex. Every local Turk knows who he is. Anyway, his tomb is behind an octagonal sebil that occupies the corner of the site. Behind the sebil is the architect’s tomb and a little garden, sheltered from the streets on each side by a stone screen. Here is a picture of 3 locals standing in front of the tomb.
FYI – I received my 4th marriage proposal since arriving in Turkey from the gentleman in the hat. 🙂
I was getting hungry so I worked my way to Eminönü to catch a ferry to Kadıköy for lunch. The walk was wonderful. Of course there was a mosque near Eminönü – Yeni Camii – the New Mosque… yes, the new one. It was completed around 1660… So yes, the newest one of them all. I did not go inside (again, I was hungry), but here are folks washing up before entering the mosque and a quick snap of the courtyard area. I just love how everyone hangs out, taking time out of their busy day to soak up the world around them, give thanks for what they have, pray for others…
The ferry ride to Kadıköy was nice.. about a 15 minute ride. Here is a picture of the Galata tower from the ferry. I didn’t like Kadıköy much.. nothing to really see there. Lots of little streets with shops… but nothing special. I had lunch at a great little spot – Çiya Sofrası – food was excellent. But outside of the great meal, I would not go back. If you are traveling and have fewer days to see everything, Kadıköy can definitely be skipped IMO.
I got back onto the ferry and walked back to my hotel. On my way I passed a small local mosque with the following message hanging on a sign outside for all to see – “None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself“. In doing a bit of research, I found that this – Hadith 13: Love for Your Brother What You Love for Yourself. It completely speaks to how the Turkish people are and my experience of them to date (outside of the Rose Water incident during- Day 4).. That to reach the highest level of spirituality and selflessness, they have to love their brother in humanity, Muslim or non-Muslim.
I also am really digging the call to prayer. Why? Because it sets a reminder to everyone in the community to think about these things. To stop what you are doing, remember what is important, and go about your day with kindness in your heart.
All in all I walked 6 miles today… and I felt it. I went back to my hotel, grabbed my bottle of wine, went upstairs to the rooftop terrace, and reflected on my day while watching the sun set. I was so tired I feel asleep by 8pm… it was a great day.