Istanbul (Three) and Hagia Sophia Museum, Turkey Week 119 July 11th - 12th 2013
We left Iznik on Thursday morning.

After stopping off in the car park for water, empty the loo, and the all important internet.

An email from our China visa agent saying application submitted last Friday as planned.

And good news is that Susanna's (guide from China) American Visa has been issued after a delay. Sadly, we won't meet in China or Nepal.

We kept left at the hole in the wall.

We just happened to write down the coordinates for the Mitsubishi-Fuso dealer we passed in Izmit and will make a detour (are we allowed to feel clever?)..

Up and over the hills between Gol Iznik and the Sea of Marmara.

Having refilled the radiator there was no overheating on the 2nd gear up hill which I will gladly take as some sort of confirmation of the diagnosis (of leaking radiator cap).

Though I'll continue to monitor and look for other leaks.

Nevertheless, a relief to get to the top and look down on the Sea of Marmara. Engine overheating can have many causes. Some time consuming and expensive to fix. 

Yalova in the distance.

A real Mitsubishi - Fuso dealer. With trucks we recognise outside (in the distance).

"Radyatör kapağı sızdırıyor. Yeni bir tane var mı?"

which seemed to translate ok as ...

"The radiator cap is leaking. Do you have a new one?"

I'd translated it both ways with google translate but that was no guarantee I wouldn't have a repeat of the Spanish "parts = asparagus" episode.

New radiator cap provided. Radiator re-filled. About a litre including the loss when cap removed.

A bonus was a new screw cap for the reservoir which I'd lost a long time ago and had been using initially tape then a push fit bit of plastic.

And a quick tighten of the rocker cover (a bit of weeping oil). Oil level is ok - there had been a hint when the Shell mechanic checked it that it was low. A small sense of relief!

We had to be filled with confidence when the mechanic arrived with the one socket he needed to tighten the cover..

Nice how competence and "no charge" lifted our spirits after our string of problems.

Big smiles all round.

I'll concentrate the anti-freeze when confident of no leaks (I knew I carried a hydrometer for a reason).

We took a ferry across the Sea of Marmara (60 TL).

Unfortunately we had turned right too soon and ended up to the east of Istanbul when we really wanted the ferry to the west to avoid the traffic.

A small delay while the driver of the truck found the spot where his load didn't scrape the roof.

Roof height 4.1m.

International standard for truck clearance 4.2m.

Result, unhappiness.

While waiting, our good fortune continued. A neighbour in the queue gave us a couple of apples. Its the little things people do that count.

We counted at least 14 ferries on a continuous merry-go-round.

The trip was about a half hour.

Then the battle with the Istanbul traffic.

We think the police were there to stop heavy trucks using the roads between 6am and 10pm.

After intially looking doubtful they consistently waved us on.

Haven't quite got the route on the ring roads sorted out yet.

A wrong turn and a bit of back tracking.

The u-turn took a few km and about 20 minutes.

All good in the end as we managed to stay on reasonably major roads.

There's a limited conformity to international road signs, some non-standard signs, coupled with inconsistency and thus ambiguity. Lane markings are often almost invisible.

Add the volume of traffic plus aggressive, erratic, driving habits, and a very high level of concentration is required. Incredibly tiring.

So back to the sport's club campsite. Pleased to stop.

And another couple of Queensland Aussies in a German registered motorhome.

The ships are still there.

Tomorrow we hope to pick up our passports with China Visas.

But first.

Another walk around the old part of Istanbul.

The Theodosius Obelisk was originally erected by the Pharaoh Tuthmosis III in upper Egypt.

Moved by one of the Constantines (VII we think).

In the background is the Istanbul Atiliye Saraye - but we are unwise as to its function.

The bronze Ylanit (Serpent) Column was erected in 4th century AD.

The Konstantinius Obelisk is at one end of the Hippodrome. The turning point for chariot races.

First time we've seen chariot racing mentioned anywhere on our travels.

The entrance to Hagia Sophia Museum.

The Megale Ekklesia was first dedicated in 360 during the reign of Constantinios II.

Wishhful thinking, or some documents, suggest it may have been a little earlier during Constantine the Great (306 - 337) reign.

Constantinopolis became the capital of the Roman Empire in 330 when the Western Roman Empire was lost.

Anyone finding it should please report to lost property!

The riot of 404 destroyed the wooden building.

The third church was built in 537.

First prayers with the building as a mosque were on 1st June 1453.

The architect Sinan (we met him in Iznik and other places) added buttresses in the 16th century.

Mosques have Muezzins who make the call to prayer. Often from minarets.

Churches have bells. And bell towers.

I felt sorry for this very ornate bell, languishing in a corner without so much as a small label.

I wonder where it hung out.

The mosque became a museum in 1934.

These are copies of tablets recording decisions made at the General Synod of 1166.

Must have been important but I don't know what they were. 

The inner entrance.
A bit dark now.

Some of the roof frescoes are still in good condition.

Some restored.

The central dome is 56.6m high, 32.5m diameter.

Its supported by arches which have part domes.

Makes for a very large open space.

The Omphalion.

Where Emperors were "coronated".

Difficult to appreciate the space as a large proportion was occupied by scaffolding.

Ionian columns.

There's an iron band around the top. Added later to hold it together.

We later walked up to the gallery.
After admiring the freeze which runs in a band in most places.
The square spiral ramp to the gallery.

The ratio of mortar to brick is about three to one.

Some places are a bit dark.

Restoration is proceeding.

12th century mosaic.

Reminiscent of those in the byzantine monastery (Osios Lukas) in Greece.

The face of Christ on judgement day.

Between Mary and St John the Baptist.

Most of the mosaics were plastered over. Presumably during conversion.

Restoration has meant the removal of the plaster.

Cup holders from a previous century.

Or perhaps for torches.

The beam is apparently in tension.

Helping to hold the building together.

Either Ali or the column are leaning a bit.

My money is on the column.

I hope it started leaning before the buttresses were added, and stopped after.

Strangely, there's little sign of deformation or cracking at the base.

The black squares to the left are apparently for 3D photography - do not remove!

Probably stuck on with blue tack! 


But not the quadripartite construction we've seen further west.

That style came later.

In a dark corner a mosaic of the Emperor Alexandros (912 - 913 AD).
Some sense of space from the gallery.
And the new buttresses outside.

Flying buttresses, no less.

The minaret was presumably added after conversion.

For the rest of it, from the outside it looks to me like an eighteenth century north of England industrial building.

The exterior of the Blue Mosque on the other side of the square is somehow a little more elegant.

Oh. And by the way. The China Visas were issued today, 12th June. We have 30 days.

A bit of a saga. We were running out of contingencies.

We'll leave Istanbul early in the morning. Heading east. Trying to catch up a few days.

Not a cloud in the sky!

Hattusa (Hattusha), Turkey Week 119 July 13th 2013

Ian & Jan Thu, 18 Jul 13 02:05:22 +1000
Hi Folks! Glad to see you and the 'Truck' are OK with Visas & Rad Cap! The generosity of real people never ceases to amaze me, as we have been the recipients of it as well in different countries.
Hope you manage to make up your lost time, but without any Night Driving!
Best wishes and thanks for the really nice pictures, the Blue Mosque reminded us of our long weekend there!
Ian & Jan

Raewyn Fri, 19 Jul 13 17:53:04 +1000
Hi Ali and Julian. I'm so glad you finally got the China visas. Hopefully this will be the end of the major problems. Love from us here in Aus and from the NZ ones too


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