The Cats of Istanbul

IMG_0647

They run wild and you see them everywhere. These are photos from a single walk of about an hour in length. I saw several more cats than these.

This one is licking some ice cream I gave him--and waiting for more.
This one is licking some ice cream I gave him–and waiting for more.
I like the cat houses I see outside some businesses.
I like the cat houses I see outside some businesses.
Playing in the sunshine. These cats are often fed--you see cat food one the street, usually just poured in a pile on the sidewalk. There are also water bowls. When you see a stray dog, it will have a tag in it's ear, indicating it's been spayed/neutered. There isn't a program for cats.
Playing in the sunshine. These cats are often well fed–you see cat food on the street, usually just poured in a pile on the sidewalk. There are also water bowls. When you see a stray dog, it will have a tag in it’s ear, indicating it’s been spayed/neutered. There isn’t a program for cats.
Love the calicoes. Most are surprisingly healthy looking, though this one was a bit rough.
Love the calicoes. Most are surprisingly healthy looking, though this one was a bit rough.
It's a cat house! I can't read all the Turkish, but "ev hayvanlar" means "animal's home."
It’s a cat house! I can’t read all the Turkish, but “ev hayvanlar” means “animal’s home.”
Burak, my Turkish friend who has been so good to me.
Burak, my Turkish friend who has been so good to me.
My friend and fellow teacher, Alex.
My friend and fellow teacher, Alex.
I've learned that a red license plate means a government car.
I’ve learned that a red license plate means a government car.

Free time in Istanbul

Here's something I saw on my walk today that I didn't expect! So far, this is the only Christmas item I've seen.
Here’s something I saw on my walk today that I didn’t expect! So far, this is the only Christmas item I’ve seen.

My school isn’t keeping me all that busy through the week. At first I spent some time catching up on cleaning, laundry and lesson plans that needed attention. And then as I continued to have more time, I decided to make a list of the things I’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have time.

First, I bought a ukulele. They’re small and I should be able to carry it around with me all over the world. With only four strings, they are pretty easy to learn. So far, I can play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (which is also the ABC Song, who knew?), You Are My Sunshine and Amazing Grace.  I’m working up to another song I really want to do, but it’s a bit out of my league at the moment. But I know 7-8 chords already, so I’m on my way.

I'm telling you the stray cats are everywhere. This one was in a store window.
I’m telling you the stray cats are everywhere. This one was in a store window.

I’ve been using the time to walk and listen to audio books. Last week I listened to The Sociopath Next Door (did you know that 1 in 25 people is a sociopath?) and The Heat of the Moon (which was just OK). This week started The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. Yes, I have eclectic tastes. And I’m putting in a lot of miles. The weather is great, too. The cooler temps are great for walking.

And I’m learning to draw. Last week, I focused on cartoon pencil drawings. But this week I’ve started more realistic pictures, using colored pencils. I’m starting with vegetables. Hey, you can learn almost anything on YouTube!

Beet
Beet
Carrot
Carrot

Short notes from other days:

11/17/2015
Yesterday was payday. And, as is getting common, there were issues. My pay was short 20 hours. Again. My pay has been late or wrong more times than it’s been right and on time. I’m just heartbroken and part of me just wonders why I continue working here.

11/9/2015
Another disappointing weekend at school. The good news is that I have two weekend classes—that means a minimum of 16 hours a week which will stretch to the end of my contract. While that’s not a full load, it is the bare minimum to stay afloat financially here. Let’s hope I can get another class during the weekday when this one finishes.

The bad news is that the afternoon class was one I took over from Maria, who has decided she won’t come back to Istanbul. Philip said he didn’t think there was much work in Sirinevler or the surrounding branches, so one class was all he could promise her. That’s simply not enough hours to stay afloat financially, nor to take on the expense of flying here from Miami and renting an apartment. So he told me to take over her class. But he didn’t tell the office, so when I asked about the class, they said there wasn’t one. I almost turned and walked away. So many classes I’ve been given end this way, two last month alone. But the office was still waiting for Maria. Luckily I asked a few more questions and told them that Maria was not coming. What if I’d just said, “OK” and walked out? Then when I was given the register I find it’s a class IN PROGRESS. These students have had 8 class hours already. The material I prepared wasn’t appropriate for them. And who ever the teacher was (Meylin said it was “her friend”) left no information about what was covered. Have I mentioned the lack of communication here?

It’s really difficult to do a good job with so little communication.

Chora Church

Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 6I had been to this church in 2008 when I was on a tour of Turkey, but wanted to return for a closer look. Unfortunately, the extensive renovations meant that I really didn’t get to see much of the building, perhaps half. Still, the mosaics alone are incredible and the frescoes better than you would expect for the age. The reconstruction work may take years, so I may never see it complete.

Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 7According to Wikipedia: The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (Turkish: Kariye Müzesi, Kariye Camii, Kariye Kilisesi — the Chora Museum, Mosque, or Church) is a former Byzantine church, later Ottoman mosque, and current museum in the Edirnekapı neighborhood of Istanbul.[1] The neighborhood is situated in the western part of the municipality (belediye) of the Fatih district. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the church was converted into a mosque, before becoming a museum in 1948. The interior of the building is covered with the original Byzantine-era mosaics and frescoes unearthed after its secularization.

My guidebook focuses on the mosaics that describe the life of Mary, but I remember our guide (the best tour guide I have ever met) telling us more about the life of Joseph, which I found fascinating at the time. Now, those mosaics are in an area that is off limits.

Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 10 Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 11 Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 14 Cora church, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 16

Across from the church entrance. Bache means garden.
Across from the church entrance. The sign roughly reads “Kiosk for family, Tea Garden restaurant and cafe.” See? My Turkish is improving!
This is the neighborhood beside the church. You can't get a good look at the church from the outside now because of scaffolding.
This is the neighborhood beside the church. You can’t get a good look at the church from the outside now because of scaffolding.
The church is built just inside the old city walls.
The church is built just inside the old city walls.
I got there on the metro.
I got there on the metro.
Even the art in the metro is nice.
Even the art in the metro is nice.
They really spend a lot of time on landscaping here. Public spaces are very beautiful.
They really spend a lot of time on landscaping here. Public spaces are very beautiful.

Istanbul Archaeology Museum, redux

English Time isn’t keeping me busy during the week, so I’m using the time to get some exercise and enjoy the amazing Fall weather. With my roommate, Monique, I returned for a visit to the Archaeology Museum last week. Just a few quick photos.

The museum, like most of Istanbul, has a family of cats. I love how they lounge among the ruins.
The museum, like most of Istanbul, has a family of cats. I love how they lounge among the ruins.
I think this must have been the base of a column. It would be easier with more English descriptions, but there's enough for an enjoyable and enlightening visit. The museum is still in major renovation mode. This is an older section, but some of the newer ones are completely translated.
I think this must have been the base of a column. It would be easier with more English descriptions, but there’s enough for an enjoyable and enlightening visit. The museum is still in major renovation mode. This is an older section, but some of the newer ones are completely translated.
All this just to house a dead body!  The word sarcophagus means "flesh-eating."
All this just to house a dead body! The word sarcophagus means “flesh-eating.”
OK, so it doesn't look like much, but this is all that remains of the three bronze heads that once protruded from a column on the hippodrome. According to Wikipedia: To raise the image of his new capital, Constantine and his successors, especially Theodosius the Great, brought works of art from all over the empire to adorn it. The monuments were set up in the middle of the Hippodrome, the spina. Among these was the Tripod of Plataea, now known as the Serpent Column, cast to celebrate the victory of the Greeks over the Persians during the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC. Constantine ordered the Tripod to be moved from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and set in middle of the Hippodrome. The top was adorned with a golden bowl supported by three serpent heads. The bowl was destroyed or stolen during the Fourth Crusade. The serpent heads were destroyed as late as the end of the 17th Century, as many Ottoman miniatures show they were intact in the early centuries following the Turkish conquest of the city. Parts of the heads were recovered and are displayed at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. All that remains of the Delphi Tripod today is the base, known as the "Serpentine Column".
OK, so it doesn’t look like much, but this is all that remains of the three bronze heads that once protruded from a column on the hippodrome. According to Wikipedia: To raise the image of his new capital, Constantine and his successors, especially Theodosius the Great, brought works of art from all over the empire to adorn it. The monuments were set up in the middle of the Hippodrome, the spina. Among these was the Tripod of Plataea, now known as the Serpent Column, cast to celebrate the victory of the Greeks over the Persians during the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC. Constantine ordered the Tripod to be moved from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and set in middle of the Hippodrome. The top was adorned with a golden bowl supported by three serpent heads. The bowl was destroyed or stolen during the Fourth Crusade. The serpent heads were destroyed as late as the end of the 17th Century, as many Ottoman miniatures show they were intact in the early centuries following the Turkish conquest of the city. Parts of the heads were recovered and are displayed at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. All that remains of the Delphi Tripod today is the base, known as the “Serpentine Column”.
You can read more here. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippodrome_of_Constantinople  Also, I photographed the items remaining along the old hippodrome's spina, now part of Sultanahmet Meydani.
You can read more here.  Also, I photographed the items remaining along the old hippodrome’s spina, now part of Sultanahmet Meydani. http://wanderforlife.com/hippodrome-constantinople/

archeology muse, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 10

My new museum pass means that I can visit many museums for free.