Monday, December 2, 2013

Days five, six, and seven

There hasn't been a blog for a few days, but Saturday was a horrendous day and yesterday was a late night, but I will catch you up on our explorations and pic spam you to death, so let's get to it....

So Saturday we decided to hop a boat for a long cruise down the Bosporus. We passed all kinds of gorgeous scenery and interesting sights before docking just shy of the Black Sea. we grabbed a taxi to take us to the top of the hill, where the ruins of Yoros Castle sits overlooking both the Bosporus and the Black Sea.

Descending the hill, we were about half way down by the time we started running into other people from the ferry, so I realized how smart the taxi had been. We made our way back to the little fishing village, stopping for me to experience the joy of an elephant foot toilet.

We stopped in a cafe for some appetizers and tea before hopping a ferry to the European side. That's when things started to go wrong. We headed off in search of a restaurant someone had recommended, but couldn't find the restaurant. When we decided to give up and just find the bus stop, we wound up having to walk over a mile to find one. We finally got on the bus, but the ride was slow and more and more people kept getting on. After Rome we knew how bad things can get if too many people get around me, and though it was very, very close I managed to keep it together. After we got to the end of the line, there was no way I could have gotten onto another tram and hubby refused to get us a taxi, so we wound up walking a couple miles, stopping for dinner at a mediocre cafe on the way. Then when we were still about half a mile or so from the hotel, hubby's blood sugar took a dive, necessitating an emergency stop for a Coke. Once we finally got back to the hotel, tired and cranky, I wanted nothing to do with anything, crawled into bed and read myself to sleep.

Sunday was my birthday, so I got to call the shots. I decided to have a slow paced day, touring Dolmabahce Palace. Though it was pretty and all, I think we should have skipped the harem. When they say stick with your group and wandering off is forbidden, they aren't kidding. I watched three people try to slip away and then get escorted out. At the end of the palace tour, in the Grand Ceremonial Hall, you get to see the world's largest chandelier, and the world's largest carpet.

After that we came back to the hotel and grabbed lunch at the hotel where I confused our waiter with the concept of sharing an appetizer and wound up getting no meal. After some rest and Skyping with my baby (who is quite mad at us for leaving and refused to acknowledge us) we headed to Istiklal Street, which is a wide downhill walk filled with all kinds of little shops and restaurants. We tried the wet burgers at Kizilkayalar's, which really might be the best two lyra you'll ever spend. We headed down the street, stopping to pick up some Turkish makeup, have a beer while listening to music, and grab a doner kabob. We found a souvenir shop halfway down the hill where I found the most perfect gift for my friend, as well as one for myself. There is no name on the outside of the building, but the name on the receipt is Saban Aydin. His prices were incredible, and I highly recommend it, whether you're looking for lamps, chotchky, or tea cups.

Today we decided to head to the spice bazaar for some tea, then headed to Suleiman's masque. The engineer porn of this place was that the architects managed to place the support structure for the massive dome in such a way that you barely notice the pillars. The weather was miserable, so we grabbed some tea in the cafe before heading to the cemetery. I thought it was wonderful seeing rose bushes and other flowers on many of the graves. There were a couple mausoleums there that had stained glass windows, tiles and possibly even gemstones and crystal (according to the guidebook; we didn't see any). From there we headed down the hill into the Grand Bazaar, looking for some jewlery. I always get something on my vacation, and it's part of our travels I look forward to most. We also were looking Hubby spoiled me, buying me a pretty pendant, a gorgeous necklace and an awesome bag.

We grabbed lunch at Tatseven, where the owner informed us he sold over 1100 1/2 chicken meals. It was what I had, and it was very good. From there we hopped the tram and went to Chora Church. Built in 1077, though the mosaics date from the 1300's. It was originally an Eastern Orthodox church,  but when the Ottoman took over the city they plastered over the murals. Hidden from daylight until the 1940's they were beautifully preserved.

After leaving the church, things started to get kind of miserable. Somehow, Istanbul manages to turn every downhill into an uphill, even though it shouldn't really be possible. By the time we got lost and found our way to the waterfront, we were wet and cold and decided to head back toward the hotel. We arrived just as the ferry was leaving and had to wait an hour, but I was ok with that since I had not one but two kitty friends that decided to have a snuggle with me. On the ferry I had a tea, which perked me up enough to survive the walk to Red River Pub, where I had a contender for the best meal I've had in Istanbul, Lamb with thyme in wine sauce. The lamb was so tender and very flavorful. For an appetizer we shared fried cheese pastries, which we have every intention of going back for tomorrow they were so good. We grabbed beer and snacks and headed back to the room, ready to call it a night despite the fact that it was only seven. Our son talked to us a little more, but he is definitely still mad at us. Two more days to go and we'll be heading home. For now, I leave you with three days worth of pic spam....