Thursday, December 31, 2015

The US Pledge of Allegiance

The US pledge of allegiance is used in schools and at some public events and reads:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
  • Pledging allegiance to a flag is idolatry, and "the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands" can be reduced to "the United States of America"
  • Pledging allegiance to a country promotes a blind, non-critical, allegiance, a "my country right or wrong" attitude
  • "under god" does not meet the separation of church and state as defined in the constitution
  • "one nation,... indivisible" begs the question, why cannot it be divided if desirable and democratically feasible? 
  • "liberty and justice for all" is not possible but an excellent thing to move towards

So that leaves, a new improved, version:

"We strive to promote liberty and justice for all"

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Blue Mosque, a magical place

The Blue Mosque is so pretty, and a working mosque, not a museum like Hagia Sofia.

In the distance, one of the six spires under repair

The entrance is for worshipers, visitors are routed around the side to a difference entrance

Dress check.  Men cannot have shorts; women have to cover their head but no hoods, hats or tight jeans. Heaven forbid, the guys will not be able to control themselves.

The carpet and looking up....

And up and up ....

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Grand Bazaar - Pictures

Topkapi Museum - Royal residence under the Caliphate

This is one of the best tourist sites in Istanbul.

During Greek times an acropolis stood here, a prime site overlooking the Bosporus, but was in ruins when the Ottomans conquered the area in 1453.  They started construction in 1459, and the sultans lived here for 400 years, until it was deemed old fashioned, and in 1856 the reigning sultan moved to the nearby European styled Dolmabahce palace. It is thought 4000 people lived within the walls of Topkapi.

With the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the creation of Turkey it was made a national museum in 1924.

Similar to Topkapi in size is the Ming Imperial Palace in Beijing constructed 1406-1420.  Did the Ottomans know of the recently constructed Ming Palace?  Were they inspired by it? There was trade with China and Japan at that time.

Smoking room
Route to Harem taken by the sultan on his horse. The stones inset in the path were to give the horse a sure footing.
Throne Room

One of the many rooms
Open area with views to the Galata Tower 
Outside area 
Dolmabahce Palace

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hotel Empress Zoe

A quirky bohemian hotel, in a good part of town, really close to the main sites and outside dining. 160 Euros a night for a small room, balcony, and a bathroom that is in need. Includes breakfast. The room was on the third floor reached from the lobby by a spiral staircase to the second floor, then across, through two rooms, past the bar/breakfast nook, to inside stairs in another building up to the third floor. If you sleep-walked you would get lost in this hotel.

Our Balcony
Room for a bed and not much more
One of the many breakfast areas
 Art to fit the place

 Part of the gardens

The entrance of the hotel on is on the distant left. The old building is domed and empty.  It separates the hotel garden from the street.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hotel Sultania

A quality hotel, an excellent staff, and a good location. Includes breakfast and airport pickup. 200 Euros a night for the best room.

Corridor to rooms
Art in the corridor

Sitting area to the left, picture glass panel separating off the bathroom
Turkish bath in marble, tile, copper, and brass. To a westerner totally useless. They include a shower in the same space.

Free afternoon tea, so English, a break if you have ODed on baklava

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hagia Sofia Revisted

This is a world heritage site, built in 532 to 537 as a Greek Orthodox cathedral. It became an imperial mosque in 1453 when the christian mosaics were preserved but plastered over, and a museum in 1935 under Ataturk.

From the ground level one can access the upper balconies

The bronze door on the southern exit is believed to be from the 2nd century BCE and have been taken from a temple in Tarsus in southern Turkey


Lock and key carved into to the marble door on the second level

Mosaics above the main entrance

The Empress Zoe mosaic, from the 11th century. Zoe is on the right. These are not the original heads and up close you can see the ragged edges where the mosaic was changed. Zoe reigned as a Byzantine Empress from 1028 to 1050.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Eating in Istanbul

One of the many "Ottoman" restaurants with low tables and cushioned seating. Most have a woman in traditional white dress making bread in the front window.
Tea and Baklava 

Lamb dish severed in a clay pot with theater

Hor d'oeuves, eggplant and dolmas. Wine and beer is available everywhere.

Eating in the Grand Bazaar, really small tables

Cold December weather, but with infrared heaters on the ceiling, clear plastic walls, and soft furnishings it is cozy