This post is part of the ’7 things to do in Istanbul’ series. You can read the other 6 entries by clicking on the links below:
6) Make a Wish
When you visit the Aya Sofia in Istanbul, you cannot but notice a long line of people queueing to stick their thumb in a hole in the wall, and then try, with their fingers outstretched, to make a complete circle on the marble with their index finger. Of course, one relative/friend/tour group member will be diligently waiting with camera in hand to capture this ‘travel highlight’, lest anyone back home should doubt that his/her relative/friend/random guy wanting to boast about his travels had actually done such a thing. According to my Turkish friends, you should make a wish before attempting this, and if you manage to make a complete circle with your finger while never removing your thumb from the hole, your wish will be granted. This same explanation was in fact pasted next to the hole for everyone to read and queue to their heart’s content.
There is another spot in Istanbul where you will find a hole-in-something (this time a column) - The Basilica Cistern - but here you will find no queues and no people sticking their thumbs in the hole…except me. The column with the said hole is located next to what is sign posted as being a ‘wish pool’, and here tourists have assumed that that gives them permission to fling coins into the water and make a wish, to the benefit of the workers who clean the water regularly but alas, with no chance of improving their happiness. Once again, my Turkish friend pointed out that the ‘wish pool’ referred to the hole which was in one of the columns beside it, and that I had to do what I had seen at the Aya Sofia to get my wish granted.
This time, I went ahead, and, assuming the perfect hand angle which would make me complete the circle, I went ahead. I am still waiting for my wish to be granted, but, I think, it’s happening.
P.S The Basilica Cistern is a quirky attraction in Istanbul which I think is worth all the admission money, though you will have to ignore the photographers in there which offer to dress you up in Turkish costumes and take a picture of you in this way. Alas, as usual, there was a queue of tourists waiting to subject themselves to this humiliation. So let them waste their money while you go and get your most precious wish granted.
-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @www.theartofslowtravel.com