Constantinople: Istanbul Edition

This was the single longest flight I’ve ever done. A total of 35 hours from Cairns to Istanbul. It entailed a 2 hour flight to Brisbane (easy), a two hour layover and a 7 hour flight to Singapore (medium), a five hour layover and a 13.5 hour flight to Istanbul (OMFG just shoot me).

The final 13.5 hour flight was simply maddening. Nearly two thirds of the plane was empty because we were departing at 2:20 in the morning. Turbulence was awful because we were going over some of the tallest mountains on the planet. I had the entire row to myself (and the other like 5 rows around me), so I slept some, only to wake up later and realize I still had 9 hours to go. Then I slept more and it was still 7 hours to go…

But in the end it was all worth it because Istanbul was going to be awesome…

So I didn’t realize this before arriving but the city is among the most populated on the planet. I think nearly 20,000,000 (twenty million for those that are dyslexic) people live there. Most of them total assholes as I found out pretty much instantly.

The picture above is a street next to the apartment I was staying at. Majority of streets in Istanbul have this sort of old ottoman style to them. It’s quite romantic actually. The left wall there is a mosque so I went in to snap a quick photo below.

As I walked around the neighborhood I overheard some people in a baklava shop talking in Bosnian. I approached them and found out they were from Macedonia, recently moved here and opened up a dessert shop. We chatted for a while and they mentioned they also carried the Bosnian burek on the menu as well. My eyes lit up and I ordered a couple of them right away.

Walking through the city is mostly a pleasant experience unless you’re being pulled by your sleeve by shop owners to come inside. Once you make it past all that you get to see some cool things like this milion stone.

Learning stuff: But Sanel, que es un milion stone? It was a structure built in 4th century C.E., in Constantinople by the Romans. The stone acts as a starting market to measure the distance on roads. So if you were in some town in middle of nothing like Topeka, you could measure the relative distance to something that matters like New York City which everyone knows the location of.
But wait what’s Constantinople and is ISIS going to bomb it? Emperor Constantine (no relation to the Sith Emperor Palpatine …probably… we’ll never know actually) decided to make Constantinople the capital of the new Galactic Empire. To celebrate this, Emperor Paplatine brought objects of the most prized things in the empire.

One of those objects was this friggin Obelsik from Egypt. They had some interbreeding going on (who doesn’t these days?). Anyways Istanbul ended up with this 3,500 monument dead smack in the middle.

It was pretty spectacular I must admit. I did not expect it to look that well preserved.

You might be able to make out all the people behind me and some flowers by the fence. It was only a few days ago that some idiot blew himself up in front of the monument and took out a bunch of people.

The famous Blue Mosque.

And the obligatory pic in front of it. Next up was Topokapei, which is this giant castle. Lots of cool stuff there but really there’s only one photo that makes sense to post from there and that is the harem!

Learning stuff — What’s a harem? Not to be confused with the word harm, no harm will ever come to you in this place if you’re a beautiful young concubine of a king or a prince. Back when Game of Thrones was real, and it still is in places like Istanbul, kings would have lots of girls (or guys) waiting there to please him. In this case girls were protected by The Unsullied.

The streets of Istanbul are filled with stray cats and dogs. One of my favorites here:

The most spectacular structure I saw was this ancient Cistern. It was a water storage depot. This whole thing would be filled with fresh water and in this case the water would come all the way from Belgrade.

Walking through here is precisely like walking through the Mines of Moria in Lord of the Rings. It’s breathtakingly beautiful eerie.

The guide pointed out two of these Medusa heads in the Cistern. They’re not sure how they got there, who made them or what the significant was and why they were turned sideways. One of the theories is that it was used to dispel bad luck. My best guess is they just wanted future generations to take lots of selfies there.

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