Monday, August 2, 2010

My trip to Istanbul, Turkey

I was looking forward to my trip to Istanbul, Turkey. Interestingly, Istanbul is almost a semicircular city and is almost equally divided into to sectors- the European side and the Asian Side...

Tickets and the visa came in. I tried and booked a seat so that I can see the sunrise en route. It was less cloudy and so the drama up there was also less. Nevertheless, one from the morning is as follows:
Sunrise on the way to Turkey before Dubai

After about 14 hours, we reached the Ataturk Airport. Strangely, we had to go cross-city and reach the other prominent airport of Istanbul, where we were scheduled to stay in the Airport Hotel.

On the way to the Airport Hotel, as we crossed the Bosphorus, we saw these whites. I still don't know what the building is...
whites on the Bosphorus

The European side of the city keeps bustling with loads of activity. But the Asian side of the city is amazingly peaceful and if you are a tourist who loves the din, you should be staying on the European side. The Asian side is very peaceful...was a bit more than my comfort allowed. I love noise in any big city...
{Interesting tit-bit:-1: I forgot to mention that, unlike in India where the taxis go at perhaps 100 kmph at the highest, the average speed of the taxis is 120 Kmph. This was a bit discomforting at times but who cares, I loved the speed.}
{Interesting tit-bit:-2: The light starts from 0600 hours and stays until 2200 hours almost...this initiated discussions on Land of midnight sun...with too much light, my mind started planning ahead for the days to come. }
One view from Airport hotel Window:
View from Airport hotel near SGIA

So, bored with the peace of the location, we decided that we must move towards the European side of the city with immediate effect and checked into the Best Western The President Hotel. Located at - Tiyatro Cad 25 Beyazit. This full-service Istanbul, Turkey hotel provides easy access to nearby attractions such as the Grand Bazaar (just across the street), St. Sophia and the Bosphorus Seaway. Located in the heart of Istanbul's historic city center, the Best Western. Within walking distance of the hotel includes St. Sophia, Topkapi Palace (15 mins walk) and the Karakoy Pier. This hotel also has an indoor swimming pool, terrace restaurant and lounge overlooking the Marmara Sea. We couldn't have asked for more. After checking in, we went up to the terrace to just lounge around. We were blown away. the terrace gave a us a beautiful evening view of the Marmara sea and the breeze, the live music with Spanish guitar (this is my weakness) and the twilight was mesmerising. For the first time in 2 days, I felt really alive again.

View from Hotel Terrace restaurant: Yenikapi/ Karkoy (no idea which one) in the evening -And while I was looking through my glass someone far away decide to burst some rockets/ fireworks...was lucky to capture that was well.
Yenikapibeach at night

Next day morning as we went up to the terrace for a smoke, the dawn was slightly cloudy...but the blue mosque was looking lovely. {The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkish: Sultanahmet Camii) is a historical mosque in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and the capital of the Ottoman Empire (from 1453 to 1923). The mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior.It was built between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. While still used as a mosque, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque has also become a popular tourist attraction} .

Blue Mosque in early morning Glow:
Blue Mosque-Early morning glow

I also tried to freeze the Blue Mosque in an early evening glow on one of those days. This was deja vu. Blue mosque in blue hue.
Blue Mosque-Early evening glow
Sea of Marmara at Dawn:
Yenikapi Red trawlers at dawn

{Interesting tit-bit:-3: I had never seen sea-gulls first hand and when I saw them, I was thrilled, I was seeing a bird which i had only seen on screen or read. I didnot like their voice though. They are also probably responsible singlehandedly to make the terraces of the beautiful sea-side houses dirty ;-) but they are beautiful birds. }
Yenikapi Red trawlers at dawn-2

{Interesting tit-bit:-4: Since the sunset was taking place quite late, we could finish our work and come back while there was still light. There was this beautiful promenade beside the Sea of Marmara. We went for a walk-started from Balik Hali Hamami (Fish Market)(one of the cleanest fish markets I have ever seen in many travels of mine) and walked up to almost Kalyon Hotel and Restaurant and then walk back. Some shots from that promenade walk are as follows:

shooting balloons on Sea of Marmara promenade
Shooting on Yenikapi Promenade

Turning point lighthouse at Marmara Sea:
Turning Point

Evening on the Hotel Terrace
northward ho

We got a half day off during the week and decided to walk down to the Hagia Sofia and the Topikapi palace.
Structure on the way to Topkapi palace:
Structure tip

On one street, there was this street which was laid out for sea food dinner. I am not sure if this is called the Kumkapi Cross.
komkapi street dining

We took some 45 minutes to reach the Topkapi Palace. This is the place from where the Ottoman rulers ruled Turkey. Photography was not allowed but it was not so strict. But I didnot get the inspiration to shoot any of those inside...Mysore Palace was more adorned that the Topkapi Palace. Slightly dejected as we walked back, we decided to pay a visit to the Hagia Sofia. There were so many mosques around that we lost which was which and in one of the mosques, we rested for a while. While resting, following are some shots:

Hagia Sofia -?:

Hagia Sofia Minaret:

Symmetry inside:

Woman reflecting

The street was lively all the time and the people very beautiful. Street food smelled so good that I kept salivating all the way. While at it, one for the road: :-) Lamps or lambs-both are enticing ;-)
Lambs or Lamps-one for the road

Note: The turkish streets are full of two primary things as per me-other than the food and the cigarrettes- Blue eyes and many coloured lanterns/lamps. And yes, everyone, almost everyone smokes-men, women, children...Blue eyes are a way to ward off the evil- this is one thing that is very central to the turkish Culture. I was surprised to see them in the airports for the airports...

I wanted to write the journal with much more details but am slightly handicapped for time. will revisit soon with more details...hope u liked it...

My experiments with Lights

Total Internal Reflection is a concept that they taught me in Class VIII and I could relate to practically nothing at that point in time. The year was 1990. I remember that I had forgotten that comfortably.

Recently, while I was whiling away my time, I came across Fibres and the optics winked at me...presenting an experiment with them...hope u like it...

Raining lights