Not to be outdone by his predecessors, Ahmed I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire decided that he would build a mosque- a mosque to rival the grandest of mosques up to that time, the Hagia Sophia. Naturally, he picked a spot for his new mosque right next to the Hagia Sophia, with the intent of overshadowing its rival. Blue tile must have been en vogue at the time, or perhaps it was just on sale, but in any case, he chose to use it exclusively to line the inside of the domes of his monumental construction, thus leading to the building being popularly known as the Blue Mosque.
The Blue Mosque
After our long tour of the Hagia Sophia, we happily crossed the park separating the two monolithic structures, took off our shoes, the girls donned head scarves, and went inside to see which building won the rivalry. The Blue Mosque is certainly impressive, but being of the opinion that a building is more than its bricks and mortar, that its history is what gives it life, my vote is cast for the former of the two contenders.
Well, I still have about 100,000 photos of Hadley to post, but all in due time. In the meanwhile, back to the Aegean Expedition, where we just left the torture chambers of the Cappadocia Hamam behind, and after a quick flight, a short bus ride between continents, and a long walk in the dark through predictably dicey streets looking for our apartment, we find ourselves smack in the middle of Taksim Square, the epicenter of Istanbul’s riots. We almost changed our itinerary to skip Istanbul and avoid the unrest, but, thankfully decided to take our chances. As is the case most of the time, the media portrayal of the situation was a little embellished from what was really going on, and though there were riot police stationed in the square, the atmosphere was anything but tense.
The Hagia Sophia
We were only going to be in Istanbul for two days, so we hit the ground running- first stop: the legendary Hagia Sophia. A Christian church built in the 537, converted to a mosque in 1453, and made a museum in 1935- it’s a testament to the engineers of the past that it is still standing. A little worn around the edges to be sure, but considering all the history its seen, it is definitely one of the most amazing buildings I’ve ever been in.
Well, there were definitely too many photos for one blog post, so here is Cancun Parte Dos:
As you can see, our Mexican hiatus was treating us well. We spent most of each day under a shady cabana by the pool, the wind and waves being a little intense on the beach. And to the relief of our family ambition for a life afloat, Hadley took to the water like a fish, notwithstanding that the pool was unexpectedly chilly. The rest of us, of course, had the luxury of saddling up to the poolside bar and putting on a liquid blanket to take our minds off the cold, and to my amazement, amid the rows of cheap house-liquor bottles, was an emerald gem- Fernet Branca- an old vice of mine from our overlanding days in Argentina. We somehow all managed to avoid eating too much, drinking to much, or getting too much sun, and at the end of the week, it was agreed unanimously that the vacation was a success. But it was only the first of many many more to come, to be sure…