Istanbul Day 3 – Pillowcases, spices, a mis-identified bridge and an evening walk at the seaside.

We left Istanbul Monday morning and arrived in Athens in the afternoon.  It rained pretty hard all day, so we just sort of wandered around the area we’re were staying called The Plaka – lots of shops and cafés and such.   After walking for an hour or two, the weather cleared a bit and we noticed that our hotel is pretty much at the base of the Acropolis – you can see it very clearly from almost anywhere.  I know I’ve used this adjective many times in this blog, but the Acropolis is absolutely SPECTACULAR – without a doubt one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.  The skies cleared up completely this evening, so we could look at it lit up as we walked back from dinner – it’s even more spectacular in the evening – the lighting is really, really cool.

A quick note about dinner:  I’ve eaten a version of “donor” kebob 3 of the last 4 evenings – I think I’ve had my fill.  Time to sample the vegetarian dishes or I’ll have to double my Zocor dosage.

But today’s post is not about Athens – it’s about Day 3 in Istanbul, and it will have to be quick because, unlike the wonderful Apricot Hotel in Istanbul, there is no free WiFi at the Adrian Hotel in Athens – you have to pay 5 EURO per hour and I’m basically a tightwad about those sorts of things, so we have to be judicious with our internet usage.  And please forgive any typos and general sloppiness here…

On Friday night James and I ventured out alone in Istanbul to find dinner. It started with a freshly squeezed cup of pomegranate and orange juice – very refreshing.

James watching his fresh pomegranate and orange juice being prepared.

Then we wandered around a lively neighborhood where men were hanging out in front of their shops, drinking tea and smoking.  And playing with the cat…

They do love their cats.

We found a restaurant and ordered, what else – kabobs.  They’re delicious, as you might imagine.

The red pepper sauce is very hot - and very nice with the lamb.

The next morning we headed out in search of pillow cases (instead of carpets).   Before shopping, we had a nice breakfast at the Apricot Hotel where they served us fresh goat cheese from one of the employees own goats – so good with a slice of tomato and mint.

We were served this fresh goat cheese every morning at breakfast at the Apricot Hotel. Lovely!

Then we headed into the Grand Bazaar to shop for some pillow cases – specifically, Margaret was looking for two kinds.  One is the basic pillow you throw on the sofa, hand-embroidered, like this:

Hand-embroidered pillow cases - beautiful. I think we bought a few.

The other pillowcase is called either a camel bag or an onion bag.  It’s a kind of carpet that has been put together to form a bag that was used to transport vegetables on the back of a camel or donkey.  The shopkeeper told us that the bags are at least 70 years old, but I would have no way of knowing if that was true or not.   They’re pretty big, as you can see from the photo below (where Margaret is doing her carpet-buying thing) – I’m not entirely sure what one does with a pillow this size, though I think Sam could make a nice dog bed out of it.  We ended up buying 2 of the large ones – each from a different shop.

Margaret surveys the pillowcase selection.

We also looked for some bowls.

These bowls are available almost everywhere, but you've got to find the best price!And found some chickens and a dog wandering around the shops.

We spotted this chicken wandering around near the vendor stalls. The dog looks like it BARELY tolerates living amongst chickens.

Naturally, all this shopping made Margaret and James hungary, so when they heard the “Kebob Hawker’s Cry,” (I recorded it right there with my iPhone, but the upload won’t go — I’ll get that up later), they ordered up a little chicken kebop.  Note Margaret’s mastery of the Turkish pointing language:  “I’ll have that.”

Margaret makes sure the vendor knows what she wants - KEBOP!

We were making our way to the Spice Market, which really is a spice market that was built in the 1660s.  The streets around this place were absolutely packed.

Crowded street outside the Spice Market.

Spice Market - Istanbul

You buy your spices in bulk here - scoop what you need and they'll weigh it for you.

Some displays are neater than others.

The Spice Market sort of empties out near a bridge crossing into an area called The Golden Horn.  It’s a double-decker job with vehicular/pedestrian traffic on top, restaurants/shops on the bottom.

Bridge crossing into the Golden Horn (but we didn't know that).

Funny story – we didn’t really know where were, so we thought this bridge crossed over the Bosphorus Strait, which would mean that it would cross from one continent (Europe) to another continent (Asia), which would have been awesome had this been that bridge.  As we thought we were doing something pretty monumental by crossing the bridge (from Europe into Asia), we had James record a little video to document the moment.

You can see it by clicking here – he gets all the details right, except for the fact that we’re not crossing the Bosphorus.

Later that evening, I went walking down by the Sea of Marmara and took a few photos.

Mosque as the sun sets.

Can you guess what this is?

The Sea of Marmama Balloon Shooting Gallery man seemed very sad.

There were lots of men (and only men) down on the rocks grilling fish together. Looked like a nice meal.

These men invited me to have some fish with them. It was delicious.

These guys know how to spend a Sunday evening.

That’s it for now.  Pix from last day to come soon…

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About patster66

I'm visiting Pécs, Hungary with my wife and son for the Fall 2010 semester. My wife, Margaret McMullan, received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and do research at the University of Pécs. My 13 year old son is attending a semi-bilingual school here called the ANK where I am teaching English Language and Drama to 4th - 8th graders 2 days a week.
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3 Responses to Istanbul Day 3 – Pillowcases, spices, a mis-identified bridge and an evening walk at the seaside.

  1. Jacqueline says:

    :) We visited the Spice Market twice, as well as the Grand Bazaar. I think I had too high hopes for the bazaar; I didn’t wind up getting anything. Looks like you guys got some good stuff though!

    And kebabs… I had my fill there. Haven’t had any since I’ve been back in the last 6 months!

  2. amblerangel says:

    What wonderful pictures- you do an outstanding job of capturing the sentiment of a place. Enjoy!

  3. Thank you, very nice..

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