Showing posts from February, 2012

Istiklal Street - Beyoglu, Istanbul

Jim picked up a brochure for me for the company Istanbul Walks . They offer a whole menu of different walking tours. One was listed as starting every Tuesday from Taksim square near our hotel.  It seemed like an easy way to check out the company, so I went to the starting point on Tuesday, but had not called them to register.  It was a cold rainy day and the guide didn't show up. I assume they didn't have anyone signed up for that tour.  As long as I was there, I decided to walk down that street on my own. A tram ran down the middle of the street, but I think otherwise it was supposed to be a pedestrian street. There were several Christian churches here and many buildings from the 19th century and possibly earlier. This church was just off Istiklal street on a side street. It wasn't open, but this foyer was quite pretty. Here's another shot of the ceiling. Here are a couple music shops on Istiklal street. There were lights hanging above the street

Istanbul - streets and Blue Mosque

Our next stop was Istanbul.  We were back in Europe and winter. The last time we had been in Istanbul was 1995. The city has changed a lot in 17 years. We were staying in the same area we stayed in last time and actually our hotel turned out to be just a block from the one we stayed in before.  We wouldn't have recognized the hotel or location, but we remembered the name and the fact that it was on a corner.    We arrived about 4:00 pm and went out for a walk after getting settled in the hotel. This scene is not far from Taksim square, which was walking distance from our hotel. We were happy to be in a city where the streets were walkable.   The next morning I bought a transit card and rode to the old part of Istanbul--the former Constantinople, where the most famous mosques and landmarks of the city are. To get there I rode a funicular down to the bottom of the hill. Then I took a tram across the bridge to the other part of town. This was not across the Bosphorus; both the

Agra --The Red Fort

Besides the Taj Mahal, we also visited the Red Fort in Agra. We had previously visited the Red Fort in Delhi, which was built by the same Mughal Emperor, so we weren’t sure this one was going to be worth the visit, but we were glad we went here.  It was quite a bit nicer than the one in Delhi . There is a permanent bridge now replacing the old wooden one which was used to cross the moats to the main gate of the old fort.There was a fort in this location as early as 1080, but much of the earlier structure was razed and replaced with the structure that exists today, by the same Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal. The fort, which is really a palace within a fortified walled city, was built for him, his wives, concubines and court to live in. This is the main gate, where we entered. Detail of the colored parts in the towers seen above. I think this is inlay work, but am not sure. This gate was called the Elephant gate, because elephants used to enter through it. We walk

The Taj Mahal lives up to hype

When I was about 10, my parents enrolled me in the Weekly Reader Children’s book club .  I was an avid reader then, but was content to work my way through the Bobbsey Twins series.  My library had lots of those.  So, I think my parents were trying to expand my reading horizons.  I don’t remember many of those books, but one I do remember was entitled “ The Road to Agra .”  It was about an Indian boy and girl walking to Agra.  The subject and cover didn’t appeal to me. It was all so far out of my realm of experience, that it took me quite a while to read it, but when I did I enjoyed it. The description in that book of the Taj Mahal made me want to see it in person some day. At that time I thought that was impossible, but some times things just take time.   When Jim told me we might be going to India, I told him I had wanted for years to see the Taj Mahal, so he put that on our agenda.  He’s like that. Before we went, I read some more about the Taj and it all sounded fantastic, till