Istanbul Continued

Istanbul Continued

Istanbul post two of three

Daniele and I went to Istanbul back in 2012. I took 1,221 photos during the trip, which were so overwhelming I kept putting off dealing with them. But we finally tackled them and got the album down to the best 366 images. This is the second of three posts from this trip.

Our first full day in Istanbul we started with the Topkapi Palace, which took the whole morning. The complex of buildings is separated into different courts, each with more restricted access then the previous. All of the buildings are ornate, mostly decorated with tiles.

There are a lot of street vendors in Istanbul, many serve food. Grilled corn is common, in fact Italians sometimes call corn “grano turko” or Turkish Grain. Also snack breads, we tried some of these for a fast lunch today. One somewhat pretzel-like covered in sesame seeds and another that was bread-y like a bagel, but airy like a doughnut.

For the afternoon we crossed the Galata Bridge and went exploring through Karakoy. We saw the Galata Tower and this side of the “Golden Horn”. This area has almost no tourists compared to Sultanahmet.

We stopped at an outdoor cafe and I tried a Turkish coffee. My parent’s had described to me how the coffee in Greece was thick, something you could as easily chew as drink. I expected this could be similar, possibly pretty gross, but definitely worth trying. I also thought I remembered a Turkish friend describing that Turkish coffee is made by adding powder to hot water directly, like we make instant coffee, but it’s not like instant coffee, it’s good, if you like it. At first is seemed like a slightly grainy espresso; it was served in an espresso sized cup. When I reached the end, I reached all the coffee grains in a thick mush. Now, I didn’t know the etiquette of what to do here, or if I had not taken the coffee correctly up to this point to arrive here (it was not served with a spoon). Was I supposed to stir and distribute the grains throughout the drink? However, I did try to drink a bit of the mush. It tasted fine, like the coffee before it, except for the texture. The texture was a mouth-full of coffee grains and I couldn’t finish the tiny cup. Daniele continued to make fun of me for trying it, since there is clearly no coffee better than Italian.

[Edit: I followed up later and asked a Turk: you are not supposed to drink/eat the grains. Oh, well.]

We went to Tunnel Square for dinner, to a restaurant recommended in the Lonely Planet Book. They had different maze plates, which I love. Even though Daniele picked it, once he got there he decided he didn’t like it and refused to eat with me. I did not take kindly to this.

After we decided to walk home, which was pretty far, back across the bridge and everything. Probably should have taken the tram, my feet are killing me today!

Observation, Istanbul has lots of cats. Everywhere.

On Tuesday we started in the Blue Mosque. The mosque is divided into a tourist part, a lady part in the back, and the main center area for men to pray. Anyone entering had to take off their shoes and women have to cover their heads.

Aya Sophia is just across from the Blue Mosque. Daniele had already seen it so I went in alone (it is paid admission). This was a Catholic cathedral in Roman times that was converted to a mosque, and is now a museum. The original structure was very Byzantine in style, only the mosaics had been painted over in black (which made me want to cry) and there was large wood disks of Muslim symbols from the time it was a mosque.

After we walked North to the Spice Market where we bought tea. Then up the hill by the University and Suleymaniye Mosque near Beyzit Square and Mosque. We also stopped by Theodosius Forum, Little Aya Sophia, and finally the Hippodrome, where about 20 people offered to clean Daniele’s shoes.

Pictures from the whole trip (only the best 366):