Turkey: With a ship in the harem
Under the lingering farewell whistle our liner “South Palmyra” company “Ukrferry” went on a journey, slowly picking up speed. During the first cursory inspection, several cafes and restaurants, a children’s room and the seventh deck with sun loungers were found, where sun lovers began to settle. What I first took for a cinema room with a large screen and several rows of comfortable chairs in front of him, it was just cheap seats for passengers Somehow quietly passed the day, and in the evening there was a captain’s Banquet, which was all, as in the movie “about the beautiful life”: and tables with delicious food, and live music in the music room, and a duet of ballroom dance… The next day, just after lunch, the Turkish coast emerged from the horizon. Before entering the Bosphorus, when the silhouettes of mosques and minarets of Istanbul appeared out of the fog, we were greeted by a flock of dolphins, diving around the side of the liner. The Bosphorus is teeming with a variety of boats, boats and barges. On the liner we passed under both bridges connecting Europe and Asia, and moored almost in the center of the historical part of the city. I went ashore to explore the city on my own, to feel it with my own soles. Someone said that in Istanbul you can get lost in 10 minutes. I thought it was not about me because I had as an experienced tourist, GPS, satellite maps and experience of orienteering in the night swamps. However, I got lost not even for 10, but for 5 minutes after I left the wide main road. Had to extract from pocket compass… Before me appeared Saint Sophia, the Church of divine Wisdom, consecrated in 537. For the first 937 years Sofia was the Cathedral of Constantinople, the main Church of the Byzantine Empire and the world. After the Turkish conquest it was turned into a mosque for 481 years and into a Museum in 1934. Next on the course – the Sultan’s Palace of Top Kappa. When the Turks took possession of Constantinople, the Palace of the Byzantine emperors was in such bad condition that it was impossible for the Turkish Sultan to live there. Then Mehmed the Conqueror for his stormy personal life built a new Palace on another hill (it is not preserved), and for the management of the Empire – the official residence of Topkapi (translated from Turkish – the Palace of the cannon gate). 50 years will not mix personal life and work performed, but the great-grandson of Mehmed Suleiman the Magnificent could not refuse his beloved wife Roxolana to live a little in Topkapi. So gradually all the wives, concubines and eunuchs gradually moved to the official residence of Suleiman. Since then, pompous halls with private rooms coexist in Topkap. The indescribable luxury of the harem part of the Palace is fiction. In fact, the harem is a maze of small rooms, alternating with dark corridors and unexpectedly elegant living rooms. Most of all I was struck by the so-called Basilica cistern, or underground reservoir. Rows of columns in red light disappear into the darkness, soft music, drops of water from the ceiling, quiet big-eyed fish that swim under your feet. This place was found quite by accident: in the 16th century, someone came to mind to ask where the fish comes from, which the residents of the houses located on this place, carelessly caught just through holes in the floor… Contrary to the warnings of the guidebook, the indoor market, where I went to visit Turkish delicacies, turned out to be quite a cultural and peaceful place. It seemed that sellers ignore tourists, drinking tea from small cups. But as soon as you stop at the store, the seller comes to life and asks you two questions: Where you are and how many times have already been in Istanbul. And when he gets a picture of the buyer, he tells you the price. After a snack is, winding curves, crowded with a variety of goods streets, go down from the indoor market. It is here that the locals buy up. Then you can walk through the alleys of Fatih district, where authentic Turkish wooden houses are preserved. Wander among luxury hotels and more chic restaurants in the Taksim area. Make your way along the path through the dense thickets of poppies on the ruins of the city walls. Taste local Goodies – fried Hamsa, mussels with rice and lemon juice. And then to return to the ship, to hear the native language and to look at the domestic television advertising and to exchange the Eastern exotic to the simple and familiar things.