Day 3: Istanbul (is not Constantinople)

Obligatory Plug:

Today I woke up to the call of the Muezzin calling the faithful to prior. Well, there was actually four of them, as they were four mosques around the cruise ship terminal. We got up a bit earlier than usual to take part in an excursion to the Blue Mosque and the Basilica Cistern: both amazing, cavernous spaces. Hard to decide what was more impressive: the delicate tiling and the vibrant colours of the Mosque or the vast, cavernous space with its dozena of columns and doric capitals.P1000399Apparently this is only one of hundred of hidden, subterranean cisterns, fed by aquaeducts. The mind boggles. By the way, for an excellent account of Justinian’s East Rome, check out William Rosen’s Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire and the Birth of Europe. Excellent book.

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At 6 pm, we left the harbour again to head to Athens, under the fading light of the Bosporus. Magic. Unfortunately marred by the smoker’s cough of the majority of our neighbours. Gosh, I completely forgot how fond Germans are of smoking. While the proprietors of the ship are keen to keep smokers out of the ship they are still smoking on their balconies and some of the outside bars. Sigh.

And don’t start me on the nudity.

Day 2: So you’re not in the middle of the sea anymore.

Yesterday lunchtime the AidaDiva arrived with typical German punctuality in Istanbul. I quite like the fact that the cruise ship harbour is in the middle of the city, and that (if one would be so inclined) I could venture to the Golden Horn or the Hagia Sophia on foot. Instead I stayed in my cabin and worked on my Open University assignments, looked over the street scape and listened to Steely Dan. There are worse ways to spend a day and self imposed isolation feels like a true luxury when you’re surrounded by the masses. The alternative would be something like this:

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Highly professional facial blurring by GIMP 2.

Now imagine this being accompanied by somebody jumping up and down in front of them with a microphone. And annoying schmaltzy schlager music. That makes the cabin so much more alluring. By the way, the temperature on this picture was 12 centigrade. You would think that the Eastern Mediterranean would be a bit warmer. Not these days, it isn’t.

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If this looks suspicious, imagine it with ‘Agadoo’ as accompaniment. It gets immediately 20 times worse, innit?

After a few days of this, I have decided if I ever will venture on a cruise ship again, it will be with one of the Planetary Society ‘s cruise or Geek Cruises, otherwise my brain will atrophy (even more). Fortunately the ship has a well working satellite internet hook up (technical term there), though the bandwidth is rather small. But hey, the fact that it’s working in the middle of the sea at all is a technological marvel. At 159 Euros a week it’s a bit steep, though. But then the drinks are far  better value than in London.

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Beat that, Tower Hamlets.