Hagia Sophia, Ciya, Gitar Cafe

September 25

Tour of the Hagia Sophia, with a superb guide, Jihan (phonetic spelling used here). We are in a group that likes to ask questions, so a three and half hour tour stretched to around five. The inside of the building is awesome, and both architecturally innovative and inspirational in its time. Byzantine wonder. What impressed me, among many things: when Constantinople was conquered by Mehmet II in 1453, he did not have the mosaics in the Hagia Sophia destroyed.  Instead they were plastered over, but a record was kept of what was where. In the the late nineteenth century, during a remodeling, the mosaics were uncovered using this 400 year old record, recovered, and finally uncovered when the building became a museum in the 1930’s.

Just made it onto a packed ferry to the Asian side, winding through a busy market scene, dinner  at Ciya, food pretty good, conversation better, and a house concert at Gitar Cafe, with Goksel Batagir, a classical Kanunist (zither), and his fantastic band. This concert was soulful and beautiful. The Gitar Cafe is upstairs, in an apartment much like ones in San Francisco victorians: high ceilings, bay windows, long corridors.

Returning to Sultanahmet exposed some of the difficulties of traveling with a group of 19.  Stop and go, counting heads, repeated instructions. I personally felt that we should have crossed the street at the lights, especially at night, when we are less visible.  No casualties. Crossing the water at night, magical. Funny conversations about children, grandchildren: forging new friendships.