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_What a great city!
I did not know what to expect before arriving and I am pleasantly surprised with the beauty and history of this city of 20 million people.  We are in a hotel called the Hotel Hanedan, that is situated within walking distance of many Mosques, Churches and Museums. 
    The weather right now is cold, cloudy and wet - it feels like we are in Vancouver but instead of seeing the majestic mountians and ocean we see endless centuries old buildings and the sea.  Istanbul spans both continents, Europe and Asia.  We are on the European side and across the Sea of Marmara lies the eastern section of Istanbul in Asia only a thiry minute ferry ride away!   The city is . . .


_extremely clean and modern, something that we haven't seen in awhile.  For me the most difficult part of travelling in India and parts of Africa was the air pollution in major cities and centres, resulting in our visits to smaller towns and a more enjoyable experience.  Walking aroung Istanbul is such a pleasure.  There are so many historical buildings with amazing architecture nestled along winding, narrow cobblestone streets.  There is a lot to see and learn.
     Just two blocks from our hotel is the Four Seasons Hotel which was once a prison.  Walking along the perimeter of the hotel you can see the high walls that was once a huge barrier for prisoners, now it is freshly painted and doesn't look forboding.  We walked into the foyer and the hotel opens up to an inner courtyard where you can see was once the excersize area surrounded by high walls and watch towers at each corner.  The Four Seasons totally restored the prison without changing the structure.  We were also told that the hotel was constructing a new building to the north and after building for one year they started to dig an underground parking area
, then they had to stop construction because they came across some archeological artifacts . . . Surprise Surprise!  It has been three years now and construction is stilled suspended, they are waiting for a decision from the government regarding how to proceed. 
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The old wall of the prison
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The courtyard which was once the prisoner's exercise area
_ A similar story exists with a new section of subway they started to build, guess what, they had to stop because they found some ancient civilization while excavating.  Now they have to wait . . . Yes a lot of history!  I'm sure no matter where you dig in this part of the world one can find some kind of artifact under every square inch of dirt.
     We just came back from the Archeological Museum that houses many, many, many artifacts from the various empires that once ruled the regions in and around Turkey, from  Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires to name a few.  One of my favourite artifacts was an "official linear measure" that was housed in the Temples of Mesopotamia.  This instrument was made of metal and had key measurements with notches indicating specific measurements such as 1 Ayak = 1 Foot  AND  3, 4, 12 Parmak = 3, 4, 12 Fingers and so on.  Whenever a stonemason or builder needed to confirm a measurement he would  reference the official linear measure which was kept in the local temple to maintain consistency while building. 

_We feel extremely carefree walking around the downtown core.  One of the beauties of European cities are the designated pedestrian zones where cars are not allowed and people can freely walk along the streets without worrying about being hit by a car.  I love it!
John

Garrett
6/14/2012 06:22:50 pm

Hey sounds like you guys are having fun. sounds like you found an awesome spot to stay. can't wait to here it from you ! ps. the ottomans are the BEST!!

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