This is an incredible city.
I recovered pretty quickly from yesterday's long morning. I poked around the neighborhood to get my bearings, took a couple naps, and headed out to the clubs at midnight with Ekrem, the hotel manager, and a French guy.
The club was Standard Urban Gay, but with Turkish House. It was dark and crowded; everyone was pretty butch except for a few token twinks, a handful of guys were rolling but most were getting smashed on rakı and beer, and there couldn't have been more than three or four foreigners in the place. It was interesting to watch for awhile, then I got bored. I don't always do well in bars, but didn't want to go home early my only weekend here.
At some point I had had enough beers (two - it doesn't take much) & I decided to work it and see what happened. I stripped down to my tank and moved to the dance floor, and what a difference that made. The offers came pretty fast. Real fast: it was Hello, How are you? Where are you from? and Ok so we go have sex now? The first offer was from a 21 year old kid from Syria. I passed. Second was from a bigger older man. He blew it when he bit me. I now have teeth marks on my deltoids. I'm not really sure what that was about. I saw a straight (well, 'straight') Dutch guy I had met earlier, and moved in tight with him to get some breathing room.
So I was checking out the crowd, noticed a handsome guy looking back, and we stumbled through a few Turkish niceties. He tried some German, but no go. I tried some English ... and it turns out that he's American. He's been here five years, and he introduced me to some if his gang, and pretty soon it was 4am and time to go.
We hung out most of the day. He showed me aroud his neighborhood, then we crossed the Golden Horn to look for Camii Büçük Aya Sofia. Bob: This is the Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus that you were looking for. It was converted to a mosque, and is actually quite well known (it was the model for the Hagia Sofya). It was just named a World Heritage Site and was undergoing renovations, so we could only look at the outside. I'll post some pictures tomorrow.
Afterwards we wandered around Sultahnmet, peeking inside the Blue Mosque and at the Gardens of Topkapı Palace. It was rainy and cold, and it's giving the city a moody air. I kind of like it. There are discoveries around every corner, and streets will open up to sudden and beautiful views of the Bosphorus, or the palaces, or the grand mosques. People I met who live here love this city completely, in the same way that others love New York or Mexico City or San Francisco. Yesterday I thought that a week was perhaps too long to spend here. Now I think it's not nearly long enough.
I haven't taken many photos. I met set aside a day later this week just to be a shutterbug.