Walking over on the Galata bridge we enter a very different world, fancy turn of the century buildings which housed banks and other financial institutions. There were fancy cars parked outside. It looked more like Switzerland than Istanbul.
We see this a lot around Istanbul, young, very young and old picking up trash this way. I remember the trash pickers of Cairo, the 'Zabaleen' who are Christians and who handle most of the trash of Cairo. They go door to door and for a monthly fee will take your trash away. The munipal trash system is very limited and besides most houses and apartments are illegal and are not on the munipal maps. The trash is take back to 'garbage city' where it is picked through, with the removal of recyclables and the incineration of the rest. This was and is the livlihood of the Christian garbage pickers.
It was crowded, as all kinds of people try to get into the Blue mosque. Here we are at the line for foreigners (infidels). I said to my sister, 'this is the line for infidels'. But the line moved quite fast and before we knew it, we were inside.
The blue tiles is always so beautiful and delightful.
The square outside the Haghia Sophia teems with visitors from all over the world. I was surprised to see a lot of Vietnamese tourists. I met a lot of them in Jordan too. The world has changed. In previous years I use to see a lot of Japanese people but not lately.
Across from the Hagia Sophia is the Blue mosque.
We hadn't anticipated that we would have time for Istanbul this trip but we finished what we wanted to do in the South East leaving us a day and a half to spend in Istanbul and with the blessings from Turkish airlines who didn't charge us any penalty for changing our flight plan. This was my sister first trip to Turkey and I'm glad I was able to show her a part of Istanbul.
I've always liked to stay in the Sultanahmet area. This was a busy time for Istanbul. We had no reservations and after knocking on the doors of a lot of hotels, finally found 2 beds in a hostel just around the corner from this Four Seasons hotel. It workd out. We were happy.
Completely restored, a new church sits on top of the old structure while incorporating remains of the old structure.
The old marble columns still remain in this restored church.
There are only a few Christian familes left that still worship here. Money has been sent from abroad for the restoration and upkeep. While we were there a returning family was also there. The local priest showed us around and explain some of the features of the church.
Even though there is signage, its still not easy to find the church. We had to ask a lot of people, finally some kids took us there.
Its completely restored, it was still in the process of restoration. We can smell freshly varnished wood. We were mobbed by a group of school kids who wanted our picture and also pictures taken with them. They've probably never seen Orientals before. A young man met us at the door and sort of took us around. He is Turkish and a Muslim. I didn't ask but he probably traced his lineage to Christianity. Years ago, when the Armenians were being persecuted, the Turks took and adopted a lot of the Armenian boys and converted them to Islam.
Here in Diyabakir, a former caravansarai has been converted into a fancy hotel. It had a beautiful garden in a large courtyard and at the time of our visit, there was a huge breakfast spread. We took a few pictures and left.