This is Semana Santa, or Holy week. The week leading up to Easter is celebrated by Christians around the world to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus.
It may be sacrilegious, but I just want to get some sleep.
In Spain, Holy Week appears to be celebrated with drums and marching bands accompanied by hooded figures, reminiscent of the KKK. Oh, and then more drums. The worst part is that all of the city of Valencia seem to be taking turns processing in front of my apartment. The bands start about 8am and seem to appear any time of day, but prefer early morning, late evening or anytime I am about to drift off to sleep. Last night they were drumming well past 11pm. The night before it was past midnight. This evening they’ve been pounding and processing for 3 solid hours.
This could put me off marching bands forever.
I don’t understand and find the hooded figures kinda creepy. And how on earth is it “Christian” to keep me from my sleep?
I am trying to learn Spanish. I am not doing so well, but as I tell my students, learning a language is a series of failures. If you don’t make a mistake, you are simply not trying hard enough. Clearly, I’m trying.
I was trying to ask my students the question, “When is your birthday?” (¿Cuando es tu cumpleaños?) But my pronunciation isn’t very good. Instead of “año,” the Spanish word for year, I said “ano” which is a completely different word.
This is a 360 dome view of the battle for Constantinople, which occurred in 1453. The museum deals only with the conquest of Istanbul (then known as Constantinople) by the Ottomans. The painting that circles the top floor of the building depicts the moment in the battle when the Theodosian Walls are breached near Endirne Kapi (the Endirene Gate). Accompanying the painting are full displays and sounds with some actual cannons lying on the floor. The top floor has no English translations, but lower levels have a little. Look down at the little metal signs below the winding displays that take you up the stairs.
This place is best for locals and not tourists, but those with a strong interest for history and a lengthy stay in Istanbul should visit. For my Atlanta friends, this reminds of The Cyclorama, though this is not in disrepair.
Established in 1895, this hotel was built to house the elite who traveled on the Orient Express between Paris and Istanbul. Everyone who was anyone stayed here. As Wikipedia says, “the very name inspires visions of Ottoman grandeur, the great European fascination with the East, the immortalisation of Istanbul’s unique culture in Western literature, and the very beginnings of world tourism as we now know it.”
The writer Agatha Christie was a regular guest from 1926 and 1932 and “Murder On the Orient Express” was possibly written in Room 411. Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, first stayed at the Pera Palace in 1917 and found Room 101 his personal favorite. Kings and queens, the famous and the infamous all stayed here.
With this kind of history, I had to find the hotel, still overlooking the Golden Horn and within walking distance of Taksim Square. This was once the Pera district, Istanbul’s “Little Europe.” It is now Beyoglu (Bay oh loo). With everything that’s grown up around it, you don’t suspect the history, nor the opulence inside.
Current prices are not as bad as might be expected. The Ernest Hemingway room was about 1000TL a night (about $325), but it’s possible to get a single room for half that.
I would have loved to see the museum rooms, but they didn’t appear to be open the day I arrived.
I’m training to hike the Camino, so I walk every day. Long walks are much more fun with friends, though. This particular walk was completely unplanned. Originally we were off for a cup of salep–once a popular winter drink in the Ottoman Empire.
Salep is made mostly with milk and sugar today, but the real stuff should still have at least some of the orchid root of the original drink. According to Wikipedia: “Its consumption spread beyond there to England and Germany before the rise of coffee and tea and it was later offered as an alternative beverage in coffee houses. In England, the drink was known as saloop. Popular in the 17th and 18th centuries in England, its preparation required that the salep powder be added to water until thickened whereupon it would be sweetened, then flavored with orange flower or rose water. Substitution of British orchid roots, known as “dogstones”, was acceptable in the 18th century for the original Turkish variants.“
Burak brought Kate, a fellow teacher, and I to a tea house in Eminönü, across from the Istanbul Sirkeci Terminal, once the final stop on the Orient Express. Once consumed, we walked all the way to Taksim Square before we went our separate ways back home, roughly 7km. Here’s a few lovely shots along the way.