Sunday, April 20, 2008


On day one in Istanbul, we did what any self respecting tourist would do: we got our butts down to Sultanahmet and took the obligatory self photo.My facial expression is an attempt to convey the gravity of our arrival in the old Ottoman empire. After the quick snap, we did the other obligatory thing, we checked out Aya Sofya.While the basilica dating back to the 5th century is relatively unadorned on the outside, many people consider the inside to be the most beautiful interior space in the world.But a giant hunk of scaffolding in the middle currently ruins all sight lines in any photo you take.But despite that distraction, it really is a pretty spectacular place full of mosaics......and some really cool stained glass.And while the scaffolding was annoying, it's part of a major restoration project, so let's give it up for the scaffolding.
We spent our evening watching a sound and dance spectacular based on the Trojan War. It was performed by a dance troupe that is roughly the Turkish equivalent to the Lord of the Dance posse. The war seemed a curious choice for the troupe as the Greeks seemed to get the best of the Turks in that whole episode. But some revisionist history took care of that, and the performance was able to continue without any problem.

Our arrival at the venue underscored how nice it is to be hosted by an employee of the U.S. State Department when traveling (yea Christina!). When we arrived, Christina gave her name to someone holding a clipboard who snapped to attention handed us off to a person wearing a black suit. We were promptly led down a closed corridor and directly to our seats... in the front row... directly in the center. Yes, it's nice to be mistaken for someone important. The third richest man in Turkey was in the front row, too. Our seats were better.

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