I realized this week that we are acting as if we are on vacation, but we’re also working full time. Well, mostly full time. What does that mean? We’re tired! But we’re not going to stop. If you remember, we were going to spend six weeks in Nice, but ended up coming to Istanbul for about three of those. Given the short amount of time we have here, we are trying to pack everything in. What’s the point of being in Istanbul if you’re hanging in the apartment?
We thought that maybe we should slow down. I’ll let you decide whether we succeeded.
Friday: We took the ferry across the Bosphorus to the Anatolian (Asian) part of Istanbul (Kudos to Sue for getting on the ferry. She gets terribly seasick and even with a patch it can be an adventure for her). Although it’s technically the East, to sure seemed a lot more Western. The clothes, the roads, even the way the people dressed. We took a long walk along the water and except for the view, we could have been in a dozen different cities. Lots of English in stores, tons of coffee shops that would have been at home in any hipster U.S. neighborhood.
Then we had lunch at Ciya in the Kadıköy Market, which features tons of restaurants and shops (pretty much like the rest of Istanbul!). The food is traditional Anatolian. We had ezme which we can’t wait to figure out how to make at home. This isn’t a food blog, so I will quit there (but there is also a pizza-like dish called lahmacun that your eat with lemon and parsley rolled into it).
We wandered some more so Steven could go to Meshur Dondurmaci Ali Usta to get ice cream that is different from regular ice cream (I will let him try to describe it) (The best I can say is that it seemed less creamy, but more sticky than American ice cream – sorry I don’t have any other way of describing it.) and headed home. The ferries are so easy to deal with and since we have our IstanbulKart, we are set. They run so frequently there’s no need to even check a schedule. We’ll write a blog on the transportation, but I thought that was worth noting.
We had tickets to the jazz club again and wanted a little break in between. Friday night’s jazz was OK. The band didn’t quite seem to gel and the singer sang some Stevie Wonder (?) (and some modified Aerosmith) in with the jazz standards. Steven likened it to a cruise show (or an easy listening lounge act). Not complaining at all, we just like the Tuesday band better. (We also sat upstairs and so many people were talking – mildly annoying).
Saturday: Dana (thanks again again) recommended a food market in Besiktas. We have been wondering where people get their fruits and veggies. The stores are tiny and don’t offer a very good selection. Even the produce markets are a bit thin, although we are in a touristy area and figured that was it. It was about a 20-minutes walk in the rain to get there from the train. We were a little soggy and first went to the upstairs area that has tons of clothes, random housewares and other non-food items. We were starting to get crabby when we realized we had missed a ramp that took us down to all the delicious food. Suddenly, all was perfect again. The rain stopped, we packed the backpack full and headed back home. (In an Istanbul first, it was downhill on the way to the market – but just so the city could torture us by making the walk uphill back to the train when we had a full backpack).
As per our taking it easy, we did spend some time in the apartment, but then hatched the plan to see “No Time to Die.” Finding the first theater was an adventure, but the man didn’t want to sell us tickets unless we were a group of four (I think). He told us to come back, so we wandered some more and found a theater (CinemaPink) inside a mall. We had to show our HES QR codes (the Turkish equivalent of the Passe Sanitaire) to get in, then again to the ticket agent. Cash only, assigned seats. Fine with us. The seats were old-time man chairs that had seen better days, but were comfortable. We sat back and started watching (English with Turkish subtitles). All of a sudden, in the middle of an action scene, the screen went blank. Then, what looked like a commercial started. People started to walk out and the lights came up. Huh. Finally, the screen said film arasi, or film break. Intermission! At exactly an hour in. In the middle of an action scene. I guess this is how it always works in Turkey.
Sunday: We took the tram to the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, which is housed in Ibrahim Pasha Palace. The palace was built on top of a corner of the Hippodrome, and you can see part of it from inside the museum. The art consists of rugs (of course), ancient Qurans, Islamic treasures such as hairs from Mohammed’s beard and pottery plus clothing from more recent history. We enjoyed it. Then, it was lunchtime. Off we went to Hidden Garden, which does have a garden at the back of it. I had what was basically Turkish eggplant parm and Steven had a gigantic lamb kebab. We topped it off with pomegranate and orange teas. Sugary and delightful.
But, we’re not done. What do you know? We were across the street from the Theodosius Cistern. Can’t miss that. We had no idea what to expect. We got a laser light show! We aren’t really sure what the point was, unless it was a very abstract interpretation of the cistern’s history, but it was a enjoyable nonetheless. Because it was only 4 p.m., we decided to take the 40-minute walk home, which went right through the markets surrounding the Grand Bazaar and back over the bridge.
Relaxing weekend? What do you think?