Sunday, March 29, 2015

Euro Spring 2015 - Part 4 - Mosaics and The Photo Yoda

Where Our Heros
  • Have to endure a second Daylight Savings Time hour loss
  • Find they understand the transit system better than the app
  • Make use of sign language to get directions to a place 300 Meters away
  • Fight the heathen hordes to see magnificent art
  • Are immersed in the Camera Yoda's way
  • Are introduced to areas of the city beyond any expectations
  • And battle the cash machine demons
OMB are we tired.  I swear when we get to Malta we are going to chill and relax.  Our day started the night before when we get a call from our front desk telling us that we're changing to Daylight Savings time here.  We just did that two weeks ago in New Mexico so we lose another hour of sleep.  Boooo.

Our big thing today is the first of two tours we've booked to do photography.  The guy offering this worked as a photographer and editor at National Geographic.  We're not meeting him until late lunch time and we're going to be doing exploring in the area called the Golden Horn.  We decide to go to one of the sites that is located out in that area which is way in the West compared to the other major sites.  I used my 'Trafi' app again to figure out how to get said place.  The app said you couldn't get to where we are going from where we are by public transportation.  I said, "What? No Way."  I got out some maps and found that I could take the T-1 tram that we'd been on before in the other direction and there was a place where you could transfer to the T-4 tram which goes north to a stop just a short distance from our destination.  Score one for de-I

Getting to the tram stop looked easy enough...except for the gigantic hill you have to climb...many glares from Wife...and we caught the trams straight away.  Making the transfer was another matter.  There was clear signage in the station of the transfer but when we got up, I couldn't see any signs.  I tried asking a security guy.  Of course the translation app I bought said it couldn't work because the data connection was too slow (booooo), Saying T-4 didn't work.  But when I gave the name of our destination, Kariye Muzesi, there was "Ahhh.  (indistinguishable Turkish) (pointing in a direction where there was  a clear sign that said 'T-4', more Turkish, the name of our stop (which I knew), a slashing across his arm to indicate getting off, repetition of all the above.  I got it.  I said thanks (in broken Turkish) and we were off.  A little bit of wandering around after we got to the stop and we were there.

The Kariye Muzesi or Chora Church is one of the best preserved examples of Byzantine mosaic work and frescoes in world.  Of course there are lots of pictures in the guides showing it but none of them can do justice for the incredible perspective, emotional impact of the scenes (non-bible story of the Mother Mary and Jesus), and the detail of the mosaic work.  Our enjoyment was somewhat offset by the onslaught of tour bus visitors.  They act like they own the place and never watch where there going.  I've adopted an aggressive posture with them where I stand my ground and have elbows and shoulders firmly harden so if people are mindlessly following their group and hit me, they know they've been hit.  Works well.  A major part of the church was closed for restorations so that was disappointing too.

Then it was on to our photo tour.  We met the photographer at a nearby restaurant, Asitane, that is know for its replication of Ottoman Empire court cuisine.  We didn't really delve into it too much because we wanted to get going with the photography.  This guy is really a trip.  In a lot of ways it was very difficult for Wife because his approach to photography is very people oriented (Wife is not a gregarious people person).  He feels you need a person or some kind of action to make any landscape really shine.  He's also a believer in knowing enough about your camera that you can quickly set two or three variables and take a shot as the opportunities come and go quickly.  With Wife using a new camera, and still getting used to it, she was frustrated.  I will see if I can get Wife to do a guest post so she can write in more detail about this.  And we're going out with him tomorrow, so she will most likely tell him to slow down.

We spent five hours wandering around various neighborhoods...clearly not upscale neighborhoods...with him.  Him going up to various strangers and getting them to let him take their picture.  We climbed up the old city walls (freaking scary as shit), went to a place where men sold birds (BIG deal evidently in the culture), got to see and meet people we never normally would have dreamed of making contact with.  The attitude toward children and the camera was so different than our paranoid US behavior.  Kids loved having their picture taken and the parents were happy for them to have done so.  Our photographer clearly makes the rounds of these neighborhoods because he had some pictures of some of the kids to drop off.  It was really a very different experience and a way to see how people really live.

The only problem from my perspective was carrying two packs for five hours.  I was totally wiped out.  We were running out of cash and needed to recharge our transit card.  Unfortunately our cab driver didn't understand that and dropped us off quite a ways toward our hotel.  We had to track back, wander around to find a cash machine, find it didn't take our card, wander around and find another one that thankfully worked, recharged the transit card, stumbled all the way back to our hotel, went out had dinner, came back and collapsed.


alexis said...

sounds like a really demanding but possibly also enriching experience. It sounds like this sort of photography style wasn't in mom's comfort zone... but maybe that could be fruitful down the road.

Agent W said...

You will be very deserving of a relaxing week in Malta!

Tom P said...

We brake for no one!

de-I said...

Alexis - Very true. She said on the first day that she was very frustrated. She asked for something more in her comfort zone on the second day. But she also said while she was uncomfortable on day one and had more fun on day two, she learned more on day one.