Touring Day w/ Bridges School & Dinner w/ Maxa

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A piece of pottery that was puzzled together from digs in Turkey
A piece of pottery that was puzzled together from digs in Turkey

We left the apartment this morning heading to the Istanbul Archeological Museum with the school the kids have been going to. They coordinated a field trip around the city to the museum and the Basilica Cisterns just so our family could go with them. That was such a nice thing to do for us, and we enjoyed the day so much, especially the cisterns. Instead of going all the way to the school to take the bus back to the city, we just met the class at the museum and headed in for a scavenger hunt that the teacher put together. Our kids were not so interested in the hunt, but once they started interacting with the other kids they started to get into it, at least Drew did.

Inside the Basilica Cistern. What a really cool place to spend an hour or so.
Inside the Basilica Cistern. What a really cool place to spend an hour or so.

We stayed at the museum for about 2 hours and then headed out for lunch in the courtyard in front of the museum. There wasn’t anything in the boxed lunches that we could really eat since it is Passover and each box had a sandwich in it. So, we headed out to get some lunch at a local eatery before meeting back up with the class to go to the Basilica Cisterns, which were very close to the museums. If you don’t know what a cistern is, they are large underground storage facilities for water, most of them built thousands of years ago. We saw similar structures in Israel back in December.

Another picture inside the cistern
Another picture inside the cistern

This cistern happened to be spectacular, with marble columns holding up the ceiling and lights making the whole environment seems a bit spooky, but in a cool way. The water was only a foot or so deep and they had filled the cistern with coy or some other large fresh water fish. The whole experience was so cool and was great for taking amazing photographs. Both Drew and I couldn’t stop taking pictures. At the end of the cistern was a small sunken area that had two marble carvings of Medusa, one which was completely upside down. They seemed so out of place, but they were holding up a marble pillar so they have been there for a very long time.

 

Medusa's head on the bottom of a marble pillar in the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul
Medusa’s head on the bottom of a marble pillar in the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

Rumor has it that there is a secret passageway from the cistern into Kopkapi Palace, which was used in one of the James Bond movies. We finished our tour with the bus ride back to the school where we met with Maxa, the librarian we had met the first day we arrived at the school. Maxa is a German woman who moved to Istanbul about 1 1/2 years ago to work at the school and is so nice. She heard our story the first day and insisted that we have dinner with her, so we made plans for today. We stayed at school for about 30 minutes before it was time for Maxa to leave.

Fish dinner ready to cook. Yum!
Fish dinner ready to cook. Yum!

 

We left the school in Maxa’s car and headed to the fish market right on the Bosphorus to pick up some fresh fish. Three whole sea bass and one salmon steak. The bill for all the fish, 35 TL, which is about $13.50! The salmon steak alone in CA would be almost that much. We then headed to the super market for some fruit and salad stuff along with some baking potatoes. We got to Maxa’s apartment, which happens to be on top of a hill and walked up the 3 flights of stairs into this nice apartment with AMAZING views all around. We seemed to be on top of the world. We could see water from three sides of the apartment and it was just beautiful. Maxa was so kind, cooking us some fish and potatoes, which were delicious. Noah ate the entire piece of salmon and could have eaten even more. We all had such a wonderful time with Maxa, but we needed to head back to Taksim for some business calls that I need to take care of.

Panorama from Maxa's apartment. Amazing views.
Panorama from Maxa’s apartment. Amazing views.

On the way back home Ilise said that if we lived near Maxa she could see being really good friends with her. Not much more needs to be said than that. It was a great day with some great new friends all around.

To a life well lived!

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