In Istanbul there is an underground water storage area the size of a large cathedral, nearly 1500 years old, with more than 300 columns stretching up and away in the dark, called the Sunken Cistern or Basilica. The ceiling drips and there are large, ghostly carp that appear and then slowly fade away again into the depths. The Sunken Cistern could be straight out of Tolkien's great Dwarf realm Khazad-dûm. We were on the lookout---the Balrog would have fit in perfectly.
Why yes, we were geeking out, maybe just a little, but what a cool place.
It's probably best we didn't know at the time that Sean Connery had 007-ed his way through the Sunken Cistern in the second Bond movie, From Russia With Love.
That really would have plumped up the geeking factor to unbearable levels. Nobody wants to see that happen.
As it was, we had far too much fun in there. The pillars had been brought from all over Byzantine Istanbul to create the Cistern. Some were quite unusual including two that were a particular attraction. Schoolmates of mine who've known me for a long time will get a laugh out of this next photo, as did the tourists going by who watched me set it up:
Poor Medusa and her sister. Here's one of the two. Not including me. (According to myth, there were three Gorgons, after all,)
The other has it worse; she is standing on her head and the column is plomped down on her severed neck. Yikes. Not a pleasant way to face the centuries.
To round out the experience, in case all the underground coolness of a place that could hold over 21 million gallons of water...and, before they cleaned it up, apparently was a dumping ground for everything including troublesome bodies, isn't cool enough for you, there is a dress-up and get your-photo-taken area. Bethy immediately wanted to be a Turkish Princess, and she talked Thomas into it as well.
When we saw how cute they were, well, we couldn't resist and Colleen and I tried out some sultry get-up ourselves, which was fun. I'll leave you with pictures from the kids' photo shoot: