Sunday, March 18, 2012

Life is Good Today (Pt. 1)...

Sometimes you just have to archive a weekend. Because it's that fantastic.

This is what we call a good old fashioned update.

Friday, March 16 2012

-We finished up our last day of classes and I rejoiced. Lectures done. We made it. 
I've left these days full of classes utterly exhausted. I'm not entirely sure of why.
Perhaps is the length or type of lecture.
More likely it's due to the strange chi that envelopes our dorm building that makes true and actual rest impossible.
Sleep is uncommon enough, but rest? Well that's just out of the question.
So, per usual, I spent the walk back from class debating, do I go into town with some people, or take a nap?
I was so tempted to take a few hours off. 
I am SO glad I didn't.

-Hopped on the bus/ferry into town with Peter, Joe, Keaton, and Sam (boys night out?) just in time to see this:

Ferry with the silhouette of Sultanahmet in the background (Ⓒ Keaton Hudson).
How gorgeous is that view?
I'm already missing this city. And I haven't even left. I wonder what the implications of that are...

-We spent the whole ferry ride tossing bits of bread up in the air and watching the gulls catch them in their mouths. Some things to learn from this:
-Birds would make unbelievable wide-receivers/outfielders.
-We are far too easily amused. And that's just fine with me.

-Immediately we headed to the New Mosque. New... as in finished in 1663. 110 years before America was founded, and they call this place the NEW mosque. It's true what they say, Middle Easterners have long memories.
An excellent Ottoman mosque, the Yeni Camii offers a fantastic break from the supremely touristy Blue Mosque while still showing off Mimar Sinan's incredible style. Observe:

Boy. I wish that Istanbul had some pretty things to see... (Ⓒ Keaton Hudson)
-Then, we raced through the Egyptian Spice Bazaar and up the hill to the Suleymaniye Mosque. You see, we were really worried that we wouldn't make it before the call to prayer went off at sunset and we would be barred from entering.
Well, we made it in time. 
And I didn't catch my breath for an hour.
This is, by far, the most amazing, reverent, wonderful mosque I have ever seen. It's daring in its architecture, and yet surprisingly simple. Maybe that is what made it so spectacular. Here's a "doesn't-do-it-justice"still photo and video clip:
Please forgive the shakey-cam.

Not only did we make it in time, we were allowed to stay for the entire prayer. Talk about an experience. That's something that every person should get a chance to witness. We didn't say a word for a half-hour, and that was absolutely A-OK.

-After the prayer, we walked outside. And it just kept being breath-taking...

Can you ever imagine something like this just becoming "normal"? 'Oh that? That's just my mosque, no big deal.'


 There was also this:

Nothing special, just an extremely vivid shot of Jupiter and Venus highlighting one of the minarets lit-up in dramatic fashion.
-We left the mosque and headed down the hill for a bite to eat and then to a nargile cafe. Oh, but not a typical nargile cafe.

As we walked down a street for the second time, Keaton said 'I know it was on this street!' Just then, one of the restaurant hawkers, whom we had been ignoring brazenly, got even bolder. He approached us trying to get us into his joint. Finally, we asked him if he knew where the "Cistern Bar" was.

'That's my bar!' It's right here! We've done some construction recently...' He exclaims pointing at a newly concreted spot in the wall. Then, he leads us through one of the restaurants windows, because, obviously, the door had been sealed up for no apparent reason.

We hunched through the window and immediately found exactly what we were looking for:

The entire bar is a converted cistern, each room an ancient underground Byzantine water holder.

I don't often use the word 'epic', but, come on, this is epic.
Please note the ideal range of facial expressions.
-We hung around the bar so long that we missed the ferry back to Asia, and none of us cared. Nothing could get us down on this night.

You know, every so often (read: like once every two days) I have a moment that makes me stop and think 'this is my job!' And then I remember how incredibly blessed I am. 

This is our night-capping view. Hello, beautiful.

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