I am sitting in the apartment looking out onto the Bosphorus with a cup of tea about to eat some dinner. Today Pete and Leah are off sleeping in some caves so Sarah and I decided to take a recovery day. We just hung out, bought some food, and walked around the neighbourhood a bit. Yesterday was more exciting though.
Yesterday we hit up the Grand Bazaar. I can attest that it is Grand! It was originally built to spur commerce in the city and I’d say it’s still doing a pretty good job of that 600 years later. The whole thing is covered and labarynthine. It’s crazy, check it out, here is the satalite picture view, you’ll get some idea of what I’m talking about:
There is no sky under any of that mass of red and white rooves. Windows yes, but the whole thing is covered.
There is even stuff going on before you get to the covered part. Down a tiny little alley just as the bazaar starts you can find the floor of Turkey’s currency market. Well, it’s not off the alley, it _is_ the alley. This back-room currency exchange started when currency trading was illegal but after trading became legal in the 80’s the market just stayed in the alley. Now these guys represent brokerages that represent banks and do $25 million worth of trading every day in their beat up leather jackets in the dark with tourists gaping at them. Totaly crazy.
We spent most of our time yesterday in the antiques area. There was three genre of stores in the antiques section: jewelry, pocket watches, and things made of brass. I really liked the brass stores. Sextants, a grappling hook, and 100 year old coffee grinders all stuck out. I particularly liked this section because it wasn’t very touristy. It was all quite expensive and interesting and clearly for people who know what they are doing. There was just so much neat stuff all jumbled together. Besides the many many watches it was almost all different. The antique section felt like it was going to be hard to top so we decided to wander on after we finished exploring it. We are definitely going back to see more of the Bazaar another day.
After finding some cheap and tasty Donair’s for lunch we found our way to the Spice Market and holy smokes, Crowded! It was amazingly busy. The spice market is the same closed-in kind of place as the Bazaar but is much smaller. Stores are mostly selling… well… spices. As well as tea, honey, candy (mmmmmm baklava), meat, and the occasional trinket. Sarah bought some Orange tea and in the back of the store it smelt _amazing_. It was like living in the spice cabinet of an Indian restaurant. I just wanted to eat the air.
We bought baklava, tea, honey, dried figs, and a keychain. But after an hour in the Spice Market it was time to find some personal space. Luckily Topkapi Palace, which takes up a huge amount of space in the old city, has an amazing park in it. Which we took full advantage of. It is green and quiet and has a lot of space. Heron’s nest in the tall wide trees by the tens and bright tulips line the paths. After a walk through we decided to wander home until our dinner reservation.
Elif had suggested a restaurant out by Babylon and had also been willing to make us reservations. After her suggestion of the show at Babylon it seemed like extreme foolishness not to try the restaurant. We arrived at 9 and decided to do their set course and all you can drink for 55 turkish lira, which is like 40 CAD. I’m not going to talk for the others but this dinner didn’t really work for me. Yes I got smashed on Raki but the food was pretty underwhelming. Especially considering how great the food has been so far. They supplied many dishes but none of them were that interesting and none of them were that good. Sarah and I prepared ourselves dinner tonight and it was much much better and much much cheaper.
In fact all we did was head up to the grocery store and supplement our already well stocked vegetable collection with some sausage, bread, and kofte (a spicy meat pate). Add Efes to taste and serve with a breathtaking view of the Bosforus.
Good god I’m enjoying this so far.