Slowly Getting My Bearings

Theo in the Basilica Cistern I've thought for a long time that part of the purpose of traveling the world is to be lost. We're just finishing up our first week and I can say with certainty that I don't feel like we've started our trip. This has been, to date, indistinguishable from a one week vacation. We've seen new things, we've stayed in a hotel the whole time, we've tried new foods, we've been jet-lagged, we've packed our days with hours upon hours of walking and sightseeing, and I've worked a bit here and there.

Today, we took the tram to the old city, walked a while, visited the Basilica Cistern, had ice cream, walked to the spice bazaar, bought some Turkish delight, walked to the Eminönü waterfront and and had fish sandwiches (Balik Ekmek) from a food-truck-like boat, took a ferry to Beşiktaş and walked back to our hotel... busy day.

Yerebatan Sarnıcı

Yesterday, I made the mistake of taking too few pictures; today I fixed that. We have all the pictures we took during the Istanbul leg of our trip up on SmugMug.

Medusa drawn The Cistern was actually quite beautiful for being an underground water warehouse. The lighting was low, but I got to take some nice long-exposure pictures with the gorillapod. I will say, I wish they had rules against flash photography. You can imagine how many tries it takes to work a nice 5-second exposure without some asshat flashing nearby. I took a few pictures with the flash and then deleted them; they sucked as expected. It was a tourist attraction resulting in long lines producing shitty pictures; kinda sad. Watch out! Medusa's upside-down head -- don't turn to stone. This was on the base of a column at the very back of the cistern. There was another head (sideways) on a nearby column, but I simply couldn't take anymore flash photography in a place as wet as this was.

Medusa Just now, I learned that my wonderful wife chose to draw the Medusa column, so you can see that no matter how well my camera can take pictures in low light, she can express things clearly and deeply with sketchpad and a handful of markers.

The Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı) was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. Before it (in the 3rd and 4th centuries) a great Basilica stood there and was used as a legal and artistic center. The Nika riots of 532 wrecked the place (and the rest of the city) and it was rebuilt bigger and better. All in, 7000 slaves did the work.

History lesson complete, not to present day: it is a cash-only joint and the museum card doesn't work. I'm starting to really appreciate that we did not get a museum card for six people; it wouldn't have helped us anywhere we've been.



Walking through the spice market was tough. I love food, I love to cook and boy to I like spices. However, given that most spices are best soon after purchase and we're not heading anywhere with a kitchen like we have at home, it made no sense to buy anything. Spice shops and meats -- at least my senses were well served. the young ones didn't pack sunglasses and have been suffering for a few days. We saw two sunglass stands bookending the market -- of course the better deal was on the side opposite of where we were. We back-tracked through the whole market and bought three pairs of "Ray Banz" for $12USD -- happy campers. After a brief sit on the stairs of the mosque immediately in front of the spice bazaar watching children chase pigeons, we decided to complete our mission for the day: fish.

Balik Ekmek

For two days, I'd planned on getting these delicious fish sandwiches that are made in a floating boat-kitchen (think foor trucks of the river) on the Bosphorus near Eminönü. We showed up around 4pm and the place was crazy packed and loud. 8TL per sandwich (times 6) ended up at 48TL (or less than $20 USD). They were quite good, but for me didn't live up to the hype. Definitely worth the experience, but I'm clearly an Iskender kinda guy.

Tori eating a fish sandwich


Istanbul has been very interesting. Not only for the city that it is, but as a place to usher in a radically different pace of life for the next year. I don't have the pacing down, I don't have the mental approach down, I don't have much of anything except a driving desire to get my bearings and understand who we are in this world. I will say, while everything I did today was great I mostly just enjoyed the company. This is a good group.

Family Photo in Sultanahmet

General Information

Where we were.

{{ }} starting {{last_loc.whence | date:'yyyy-MM-dd'}}

Where we are.

{{ }} since {{current_loc.whence | date:'yyyy-MM-dd'}}

Where we're going.

{{ }} on {{next_loc.whence | date:'yyyy-MM-dd'}}