Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Turkey - Day Two - Istanbul

Day two of our Turkey tour was packed full of sightseeing and performance.  The day began at 8:00am as we all boarded the bus, some more exhausted than others, either from jet-lag or other reasons.

Our first stop was the Roman Cistern, an underground chamber which used to house 80,000 cubic meters of water in its prime.  Nowadays the place is a tourist hotspot, coming with a giftshop and a restaurant, as well as a scene for famous movies such as From Russia With Love.  The chamber itself was lit only by lights at select areas, primarily by pillars holding the ceiling up.  The pillars were very unique, as they had interesting markings embedded into their stone, leading to many pictures.  The water, while not very deep, was prominent enough to house many fish, which surprised me when I looked down at the water, some even doing back flips allegedly.  The main focus of the area which existed at the end of the stone pathway was the Medusa head, which can be seen farther down the blog.  Evidently the head is upside down because of Christian intolerance for pagan religions.  Yet it has remained compact to this day and is a cool sight to witness.

Directly after the Cistern, the band went across the street to enter and explore the Hagia Sophia.  Originally a church, turned mosque, this museum was massive.  For centuries it was the center of Orthodox Christianity, which was evident by the many depictions of Jesus and other figures from the Bible on the walls.  After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the church was converted into a mosque and became important to Islam over the next few centuries until Ataturk converted the building into a museum in 1953.  The tour was led by our main tour guide and he used a microphone connected to headsets the band used to hear him.  The information was interesting and the building was huge, as well as packed with a bunch of people from multiple nationalities.  I heard languages from English to Turkish to Spanish to French so that alone shows the significance of such a place.

The band next made its way to Robert College, which despite its name is actually an American high school.  The school was nice, big, and in the middle of the woods, which is both cool and strange at the same time.  The principal, or who I'm assuming was the principal, spoke English so it was nice to hear non-broken English for the first time in a few days from someone outside of our band.  The band was served Little Caesars pizza for lunch, also nice.  The concert itself went reasonably well.  There were some hickups here or there for both the concert and jazz bands, but it was nothing which ruined the performance.  The audience, while it started at only about five or so people, grew to a reasonable size by the end of the concert.  The band then cleared the stage, packed up, and went to the hotel, some to sleep, some to explore, so to simple take in the fact that they're in Turkey.      

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