Posted by: jottertree | July 31, 2010

Really Old Stuff

Being in Europe or Asia makes any American traveler acutely aware of just how young our society is. It becomes common place to stand in a cathedral built 700 years ago or see the ruins of a castle a 1000 years old but even in a society with a rich and long history, it is unbelievable to see items from the 20th century B.C.

When we entered the Topkapi Palace we had no idea in what an amazing place we were about to be. The courtyards were full of roses, the rooms covered in intricate, gorgeous tiles. The treasury had jewel incrusted objects, the likes of which I had never imagined. Included in these objects was the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, an 84 carat diamond made into a turbin pin. The worth of such a piece is unfathomable–it is the fifth largest diamond in the world.

From The Balkans 2010

The most spectacular area was the room of religious relics. It took us a minute to figure out just what it was we were examining. We stood in front of a rather unassuming wooden staff wondering why exactly it was there, when finally I looked down and read the title placard, “Moses’s staff-20th century, B.C.” It was unbelievable. As we moved around the room we saw objects from many prophets. We saw Joseph’s turbin, Abraham’s sauce pan, Muhammad’s sword. Even with all these relics, we were struck speechless when suddenly we found ourselves staring at the prophet John’s arm and then part of his skull.

We were marginally less taken aback at a case holding some of Muhammad’s beard or one of his teeth, but still my mind is blown.

From The Balkans 2010

The rest of our time in Istanbul was filled with markets and sites. We saw the famous blue mosque and Aya Sofia, the cathedral turned mosque turned museum. We took a cruise up the Bosphorous Strait and were able to see Europe, Asia and the Black Sea simultaneously, while standing in the shade of a castle. We saw dolphins and pigeons and lots and lots of people. We bought tea and journals, scarves and even a spiderman suit for me. We ate seafood, kababs, baclava and tried raki (a licorice flavored liquor) which I decidedly don’t like.

From The Balkans 2010

Now we are heading home. This crazy adventure has come to a close, but knowing me there will be more to come. So keep checking and I’ll keep posting!

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