The one way ticket

Some of the adults were appeased this morning because we were on our way to Hagia (I-ya) Sofya by 9 o’clock. Unfortunately the brilliant weather we’ve been having was too good to last and it was bucketing down. We had to wait outside in the rain for the guide we’d booked who was 20 minutes late. There was punches flying left right and centre with everyone yelling “high vis!” as jackets were pulled out all around us on the streets (Donald’s jacket was pretty luminescent too!). We played ‘I’m thinking of a kitchen utensil’ to pass the time but we all agreed jordy should be banned with his item that was digital scales- definitely not a utensil!
When the guide turned up we all hurried to buy tickets but faced quite a problem, the sellers here didn’t believe Ella was under 12 like at the palace but weren’t as kind to just give us the benefit of the doubt. Bad luck for Donald he was sent back to the hotel (at least 10 minutes in the rain) to retrieve her passport. We weren’t about to waste 25 lira on an adult ticket for her!
The guide was in a rush so we had to start without Donald who needed up missing most of the tour. Unlucky because the Hagia Sofya was incredible!
It’s the second biggest church in the world and was the biggest for 300 years before the Seville in St. Petersburg was built. It was Christian originally but was later converted to a Mosque and now functions solely as a museum. The mosaics were stunning with over 8 tons of pure gold used for the tiles on them all in the church. One of Empress Zoë and her husband had to be changed three times because she kept remarrying. We also the bath emperor Constantine was baptized in.
We tried the wishing spot where you stick your thumb in a spin your hand around and if your thumb comes out moist your wish will be granted and any sicknesses healed. Unfortunately no wishes came true.
Next door we visited a series of mausoleums that were elaborately tiled. There was a bad feet smell though because everyone had to remove their shoes before entering!
For lunch we wanted to visit the docks were boats moor up and the fishermen make fish sandwiches from their fresh catches, a tradition of Istanbul. I had watched a doco about it as well as read it praised in the Lonely Planet but it was pretty big disappointment! Raw onion, some cos, dodgy white bread and a fish fillet with the bones still in it. In Manu’s words “where is the sauce?”! PLUS dad didn’t even manage a cheaper group price! Some others got chicken döners that were much better.
From the docks we wanted to catch a ferry to the Golden Horn and to a little church that was supposed to have even better mosaics but we missed it by 3 minutes so we had to catch the bus. As we were hopping on there were two men grabbing our tickets before we validated them that we assumed were conductors but as we pulled out realized they’d took them to sell them and we wouldn’t be able to return on the
bus! Donald, leanne, mum and dad were pretty mad.
Eventually we stopped just out the front of where we thought the church was but as we looked at the map it become apparent we were not even close. A man was standing nearby so we asked for help but he turned out to be mute! For some reason we took his gestured help and just got even more lost! We then asked a man washing his car who said we were more than 5 kms away but of course we didn’t believe him and kept walking (uphill on cobblestones!). We thought 3rd time lucky and asked a chemist with some English who explained that we were so far from where we should be that we weren’t even on our map! I was pretty exasperated and so walked to the market on the next street full of amazing produce. I bought organic dried apricots, cashews, almonds, apples, strawberries and mulberries for less than 20 lira! One stall had carrots as price markers I thought were pretty cute!
We split from there, dad and Al were unwilling to admit defeat and wanted to continue church hunting while the rest of the Greenhams and Firths had had enough. We walked back down to the water and stumbled upon a ferry station and decided to go back that way. We boarded and sat down relieved for a break however as we started moving it turned out that it was going in the opposite direction! Luckily we were at the 2nd last stop so didn’t go that far backwards before correcting our course. We were so tired we started speaking in Irish accents and found it hilarious. If that doesn’t scream out ‘time for bed’ then I don’t know what does!
When we left the ferry we walked past the bus station from earlier and saw the man that had taken our tickets. Donald approached him and got pretty angry shouting at him for having taking our tickets. After 15 minutes of pointing and terse words it turned out the man was a bus company man and the tickets weren’t all day passes just one way tickets. They hadn’t stole them from us at all. AWKWARD!
We met up with Sue and Rob and bought a few things for dinner to have back at the terrace at the hotel. After waiting around for a while dad and Al returned fairly underwhelmed. They’d eventually found the church but it didn’t live up it it’s reputation. We had a picnic dinner with some really tasty falafel and hummus. The first falafel I’ve had and the best hummus then were well and truly ready for some Zs after the amount of walking we’ done.

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Filed under 2012, Ankara to Athens, Gallery

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