Friday, 31 January 2014

Nargile smoking in Istanbul

If you are wondering what Nargile could be, let me tell you it is a word widely used in Turkey for a water-pipe, hookah-pipe or shisha (whichever expression you might find familiar).

There are countless places offering nargile smoking to tourists and locals alike. Obviously not all of them are equally good. You can expect cheaper tobacco varieties in those places catering mainly to tourists. How water pipes are maintained also varies from place to place.

If the place is serious about their Nargile experience, they should have different equipment for each variety and they should clean it as often as possible.

Obviously places specialised in nargile smoking are generally more professional but you can also expect them to be a bit more expensive.

You can order nargile with tobacco in a variety of flavours, apple being the most popular. You can also try cherry, banana, coffee, orange or melon flavours, in addition to many others.

However, if you are in search for the real deal, try locating a place that offers Al Fakher or Nakhla molasses. They are stronger and are often not mixed with fruity flavours. They might be a bit hard to find, but worth the effort in my opinion.

Apart from those I really liked apple with mint and also melon flavours.

Many claim Erenler Nargile (located on the Yeniçeriler Cd, near the Grand Bazaar) to be the best place for a proper nargile experience and suggest one should order Double Apple to get a taste of the real thing.
We also found a great place specialised in nargile smoking on the Asian side of the city and another decent place on the Akbıyık Caddesi near Sultanahmet (rougly in the middle section of the street). It is called Mitani.

If you are thinking of buying Al Fakher or Nakhla molasses for home use, you are up for a challenge. Since a lot of the stuff on the market is fake you can never tell whether it is original until you smoke it. If you look like a tourist, your chances for a good deal are even slimmer.


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Galata Tower by Day and by Night


Monday, 27 January 2014

The Basilica Cistern in istanbul

Basilica Cistern is another popular attraction located near Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) and Hagia Sophia. It is quite unique and in my opinion well worth a visit.

It is even more spectacular if you look at it through the prism of time. It was built in the 6th century AD during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. It must have been quite an architectural challenge and it is no wonder that 7,000 slaves were involved in its construction.
Hundreds of them died during the process. This might be the reason for an eye with tears engraving on one of the columns.

It is basically a huge underground chamber approximately 140 metres (450 ft) by 65 metres (210 ft) and is capable of holding 80,000 cubic metres (2,800,000 cu ft) or 100,000 tons of water. The ceiling is supported by 336, nine metre (30 ft) high, marble columns (mostly carved in Ionic and Corinthian styles).

Its initial purpose was to store and filter water for the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings on the First Hill. It continued to provide water to the Topkapi Palace even after the Ottoman conquest and also into the modern times.

At the far end (northwest corner) of the cistern there is a couple of Medusa column bases. One is placed sideways and the other upside down. According to tradition the blocks are oriented sideways and inverted in order to negate the power of the Medusa's gaze.

The place is lit with water reflections in mind and the effect is aimed to emphasize the countless number of columns. I hope this is obvious from the included photos.
There are even some fish traces visible on the first photo.

At the time of our visit the entrance fee was 10 TL. Basilica Cistern is open every day from 09:00 until 18:30. It took us almost an hour to walk through the place and take those countless photos. I guess without a camera it could be done much quicker.

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