Friday, October 28, 2011

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 6

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 6 (continued from Day 5 part 2)
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge)
 
Monday

            Monday was our last full day in Istanbul.  Today, the plan is to take a cruise up the Bosphorus.  Anyone who’s read Orhan Pamuk’s book, “Istanbul” knows the importance the Bosphorus Strait plays in the lives of the people of Istanbul.  The 19 mile-long Bosphorus serves as Istanbul’s main highway, hosting a never-ending stream of vessels, from little fishing boats to humungous oil tankers to luxury cruise ships.  It’s one of the busiest waterways in the world.  It’s the only outlet to the Mediterranean for Russia, and the only route to any sea for other countries on the Black Sea, like Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Georgia.  The Bosphorus separates two continents – Europe and Asia.  It connects the Black Sea in the north with the Sea of Marmara and (eventually) the Mediterranean in the south.  The Turks view the Bosphorus as much more than just a body of water.  It’s a sacred inheritance.  The locals are very content to just sit for hours on a bench that overlooks the Bosphorus and watch the boats go by.  I crossed the Bosphorus when I headed  over to Uskudar.  A 13 minute ferry ride, however, is no way to experience the strait.  Today, we have a 90 minute cruise up the 19-mile waterway, and I’m excited. 

            The public ferry, which leaves from the Old Town side of the Golden Horn, departs every day at 10:35 a.m.  To ensure a good seat on the left (European side) of the boat, we got to the ferry dock early.  Maybe a little too early.  So, with a bit of time to kill, we crossed over to the Spice Market area and grabbed a pastry and some tea.  The vendors outside the spice market were just setting up their stands.  I noticed in a planter nearby, a cute young cat poking about.  This cat had a red collar on, which I suppose indicated that she was being looked after by someone. 


Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 5, Part 2

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 5, part 2 (continued from Day 5 part 1)
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge)

Our goal was the Cinili Mosque, also known as the Tiled Mosque, named for the amazing tilework inside.  We started our climb, through the  streets of this very working class neighborhood.  The  incline was very steep, and we were getting pretty tired.  Off to our right, high up on the hilltop, I spotted what I thought was the Tiled Mosque.  It actually turned out to be the Atik Valide Mosque, Sinan’s last great work and the most important Ottoman monument in Uskudar.  Built in 1571 and dedicated to Sultana Nur Banu, the mother  of Murad III and wife of Selim II, the  mosque was impressive, and had a great courtyard that opened onto a prayer hall adorned with delicate black, red and gold frescoes.


Monday, October 24, 2011

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 5, Part 1


My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 5, part 1 (continued from Day 4, part 2)
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge) 

Sunday

            Today I thought we’d try something a little different.  Today we’re gonna pop on over to the Asian side of Istanbul. Our destination is Uskudar, a charming district easily accessed  by ferry and teeming with historical mosques. Exploring Uskudar gives us a chance to experience the streets  of a quiet, everyday neighborhood, without the opulent  architecture, modern style and throngs  of people that we see on the European side.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 4, Part 2

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 4, part 2 (continued from Day 4, part 1)
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge) 
Okay, we’re done with the historical sites.  Now the shopping begins.  It’s time to plunge ahead into the insanity that the call the Egyptian Spice Market.

Built in the mid-17th century, this hall was gradually taken over by merchants peddling spices, herbs medicinal plants and pharmaceuticals.  Most of the stalls still sell the same products, although admittedly the place has gotten pretty touristy.  It’s called the Egyptian Spice Market because it was once funded by taxes collected from Egypt.  It has the ambience of a true Oriental market. 


Friday, October 21, 2011

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 4, Part 1

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 4, part 1 (continued from Day 3, part 2)
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge)

Saturday

            To fully appreciate the urban Istanbul of today, you must leave the Old Town and plunge headfirst into the hip, happenin’, lively, upbeat, European-feeling New District, and that’s what we did.  After spending the first two full days exploring the classic sites of the Old Town, we indulged in the part of the city where our hotel was located.  We started with the old standbys, Taksim Square and Istiklal Street. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 3, Part 2

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 3, part 2 (continued from Day 3, part 1)
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge) 


We finally came up to the gates of the museum.


Once inside the gate, there were more cats to be played with.  Like this real sweetheart outside the main hall of the museum.

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 3, Part 1

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 3, part 1 (continued from Day 2, part 2)
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge) 
Friday

Today turned out to be one of the most exhausting days of the trip.  We decided to tackle the famous Topkapi palace. This is the place where the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror decided to set up shop after capturing Constantinople.  It ended up serving as the sole administrative palace for Ottoman sultans for more than 400 years.  It housed several thousand people, a city within a city.  Not too shabby a place to store one’s stuff.

The day started out nicely enough, with me noticing a woman using her headphone cord to play with a kitten on a bench in Sultanahmet Park. Cute!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 2, Part 2

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey -  Day 2, Part 2 (continued from Day 2, part 1)
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge) 

After spending the morning at two major sites, it was time for lunch.  Not far from the Blue Mosque was Sultanahmet Koftecisi, a restaurant famous for their kofte, or meatballs.


On my way there, I spotted a calico cat across the street.  She was a sweet and friendly cat, and she was noticeably pregnant.  I befriended her right away.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 2, Part 1

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey -  Day 2, Part 1 
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge)

I went to bed 10:00 p.m., totally exhausted. Even though I’m somewhat of an insomniac, I figured that after 23 hours without sleep and with a carb-heavy dinner in my gut, I’d sleep like I was in a coma. No such luck.  I woke up at 2:30 a.m, Turkish time, rarin’ to go.  I resisted the urge to get up, and instead forced myself back to sleep, and  thankfully woke up at 6:00 a.m.  We left the hotel early, since we had a big day ahead. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey - Day 1

My Stray Cat Expedition in Istanbul, Turkey -  Day 1
Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge) 

Wednesday


After many months of very busy practice, in which it seemed that every cat in the city was sick and they all wanted to come to my hospital, I finally got to take a much needed vacation.   The destination:  Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, formerly Byzantium, the city that straddles two continents, the city where east meets west.  Insert any cliché you like. I’m headed to Turkey, and I am psyched.
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