Friday, 5 March 2010

Amadou and Mariam

My new found love for Amadou and Mariam

I just thought I would note that although I love metal I love many other types of music and my current new love is Amadou and Mariam. They remind me of a cassette tape I used to have of Habib Koite. And I think they’re fab.
Here’s a youtube:

Thursday, 4 March 2010



Last year I aimed to go to Buenos Aires, Istanbul and Tibet.
Its nearly a year ago now that I made it to Buenos Aires, and its nearly 6 whole months ago that I made it to Tibet… but I didn’t make it to Istanbul – but this year 2010 I did! And I have already. Tick!

No, really, I don’t think about countries and cities as something to tick off some never ending list. Cause in reality once you’ve visited them once they’re not “done” and you never can see everything - in my whole life in London i've never "done" London and Tibet, for me, will never be “done”- it's a love affair! And Bhutan, so beautiful I will long to go back to for a long time I should think (its very expensive!)
But there’s a lot more to discover! And when an opportunity to go to Istanbul came up with my boyfriend (travelling with my boyfriend and not alone… shocking, I know!) I of course said YES!

Istanbul is a very interesting city, not only because of the geographic setting at the very cusp of Europe and Asia, and of course because of the fascinating architecture and Iznik art, which I did a lot of looking at – but because of the history of the place and for me, the historical religious mixture and the changes between Christianity and Islam, and the relationship between the two.

We were staying right near the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia that sit almost opposite each other, and are both mosques, although once the Hagia Sofia was a Basillica.
Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque

The Hagia Sofia is fascinating, it is grand, and magnificent and very impressive. With mosaics of Jesus and Mary still on the walls, but crosses that have been removed.

I can't see those crosses

Mihrab in the Hagia Sofia

 This is where you get to look out of if you're a girl! So lucky!

There is one angel with a face, whereas the other angel’s faces have been covered over as I believe in Iznik art you cannot represent people or animals.

Which is why you end up with such lovely tiles, which I saw quite a lot of!

The Blue Mosque is not as impressive inside as the Hagia Sofia, but still very beautiful. Unfortunately its surrounded by carpet salesmen claiming the Mosque is closed, and so you have to visit their shop. Errrr…

We visited lots of wonderful places The Hagia Sofia, Dolmabahce Palace, (çe_Palace )The Architectural museum, The Roman cistern, The Chora Church and i sat through a call to prayer in one of the mosques which was captivating and lovely.
Roman Cistern
Mary and Joseph having a snog on the wall of the Chora Church 14th C

I said no no no no no - early backing dancer breaking out the attitude, 14th Century religious pop video. Bling.

I was particularly interested in The Topkapi palace and their “The sacred trusts” rooms. In those rooms was not only some very interesting panels explaining some of Koran and the Muslim Old testament beliefs (I have never finished reading the Koran myself, although I intend to one day!) but also Abrahams saucepan, St John the Baptists arm, Somebody else’s turban (sorry! Joseph's! As in he had a coat of many colours!) and The Prophet Mohammed’s cape (sorry, its a blessed mantle). Or at least lots of boxes that may have housed his Blessed mantle.
I like this idea of religious artefacts. Its fun. Humans need tangiable things to look at. But I do think that it was one of the 10 commandements something about idolatry. Oh no wait false idols. So does that include statues of Jesus, St John the Baptists arm, a splinter of the cross, the Turin shroud and the Prophet Mohammed’s cape? Or does it just refer to Pop Idol, Golden calves and the Pantheon of Greek gods in painted marble?

Out of all the religious artefacts I’ve seen I most like St. John the Baptist’s arm at the Topkapi, and the idea of St. Therese’s bones (these are in Liseux) cause they have magic (sorry, not magic, holy) powers that can heal!
Hell yes!
I mean Heavens yes!

I am the worst kind of sceptic. A sarcastic one.
Oh maybe I am the best kind of sceptic. An interested one. 

The Topkapi treasury is very impressive too, talking of golden idols, the jewels the sultan wore are amazing!
I especially was a fan of the Topkapi dagger with the HUGE emeralds.

We took a ferry and crossed over to Asia for a few hours. (It takes 20 mins) but I enjoyed the “other side”, it had some interesting markets, and everything seemed to be a bit cheaper than the European side.

Also the view of the hazy skyline of Istanbul that is so recognisable because of the hundreds of Mosques, maybe even thousands is great from the ferry.

The weather wasn’t that great, as it was February, But it was warmer than snowy England which was a welcome break, and it felt like I hadn’t seen the sun in forever! So I was very happy to drink apple tea with my face in the sun by the Bosphorous!

Oh, and I suppose I should mention that Apple tea has to be one of my new favourite things and I think I’ll go and make myself a cup right now! 

p.s. Please note my little cats of Istanbul photo diary:

Cat on photos

Cat chased up tree by dogs who look very proud of themselves
Two cats, and lots of fish