Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Random Thoughts from Istanbul

Five days in Turkey! Sorry that I was away from the blog. Jenna and I had a wonderful time with lots of great sites and food. We go great advice from a Turkish friend here in Cairo. Hopefully I’ll get some pictures up soon. And while I will let the photos do most of the speaking for the trip, for now I thought I would share some random thoughts.

MY FAVORITE JUSTINIAN SITE: At the Basilica Cistern in central Istanbul, you descend underground through a small building, which looks like the entrance to a subway station. After you walk downstairs, you are in a huge cistern that is about 1,500 years old. There is still water there and lots of fish. And two Medusa statues in once corner. Apparently it was uncovered about 50 years ago when a visitor to Istanbul noticed people carrying buckets of water and fishing in central Turkey.

DEMOGRAPHIC POINT OF INFORMATION: Istanbul is a city of 16 million people, which makes it larger than any city in the US, and slightly smaller than Cairo.

A LESSON ON THE GLOBAL ECONOMY: On the first day of our trip, I took 500 new Turkish liras (YTL) out of an ATM machine. My account was charged $409.27 for rate of $1US=0.81YTL. Five days later, I took out the same amount from the same bank and was charged only $384.94 about $1US=0.77YTL. That is a 5% increase in the value of the US dollar versus the Turkish lira in less than a week. I don’t fully understand why foreign currencies (the Euro has been on a similar path) are now dropping against the dollar (which in no way makes up for the precipitous drop which the dollar has seen over the past few years). There are many possible explanations, but perhaps European markets are finally feeling more directly the impact of what is happening in the US…

Speaking of economics, MY BEST NON-EDIBLE PURCHASE OF LESS THAN $10US: For 11 YTL, I bought Yerli Plaka, an LP by Ceza, Turkey’s best-known rapper. Great stuff. If you want a copy, let me know; I will be happy to share it. I don't understand the words at all (though Turkish has some words that are Arabic in origin that I can understand) but I am told he is pretty conscious. Just for kicks, I put the song list into an online translation program and came up with the following poem (lines/tracks 6 and 7 were originally in English, so I translated them into Turkish using the same program. Of course.):
1. Belt Bee
2. Local Number plate of a car
3. Gelsin Life Familiar Similar
4. raid Possibility
5. You Playful Dilber
6. karanlık yer
7. şark caz
8. Blues Without veil
9. Haydi Us Bee
10. Difference There is
11. Day and night Wife
12. Short Absence
13. In front Yourself Bak
14. Again Get hold of Handkerchief
15. Bitter Pepper
16. Line And Regular Absence
17. Not My


Ayse Papatya Bucak said...

Btw, the cistern makes a prominent appearance in the film of From Russia With Love...

irad said...

I saw it years ago but don't really remember it, and not the cistern. I definitely need to watch it again; I would definitely film a movie there! (BTW a friend recommended a hotel--Hotel de Grande Londres, which was more expensive than where we stayed--that appeared in a Bond film; I presume it was the same one.)

Jenna and I watched the full Bourne series a couple of weeks ago (which were great!), so it could be fun to go back to Bond!