Sunday, January 08, 2012

Turkey - Part IV - Back to Istanbul

Back to IST - jumped the Havas bus to Taksim Square and set off to find the apartment I'd rented through Airbnb.  We got a little lost, but eventually found this modern jewel of a place.  I really want to go back and just stay in that apartment for a week.  MCB had a reservation via couchsurfing to stay with a couple Turkish girls, but he had to kill some time until they were out of work.

Killing time in the apartment meant using the bathroom, accidentally hitting the bidet spray button, and completely soaking himself, his clothes and the bathroom.  When he emerged from the bathroom, man, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. He was not amused, but I sure was!  I think I got out the blowdryer to try and help in between fits of laughter.
A few minutes after MCB left (late, due to the wet pants situation), my darling friend Rob showed up at the door.  Rob's living in Ankara for a year, studying Farsi there since he couldn't get into Iran, and took a 9-hour bus so he could come see me for 24 hours.  Oh, and to get out of Ankara since it's cold and he's sick of Turkish food.
It was Thursday - Thanksgiving Day!  And to celebrate, we had Chinese food since Rob can't get any international cuisine in Ankara.  It was a great meal, even if not authentic in any way.  
Rob lived in Istanbul for a few months in the summer, so he was an expert navigator.  And he navigated us to a wonderful dessert place where he made me try this - tavuk göğsü:
Looks pretty sweet, right?
Except it's made of chicken breast.  And yep, it takes like chicken, masked in sugar and cinnamon.  See the stringy chicken breast parts?  It was....interesting.  It's okay, Turkey.  You get a break since you have so many other wonderful things to eat.

Bedtime chatter involved catching up on our mutual DC/Georgetown friends and dating/relationship talks.  Cause isn't that what everyone talks about?

Friday - a day of exploration to the Asia side!

Walking through Taksim.

Ferry token.
Galata Tower.
See the seagull.  
The Asia side is much more residential and full of small businesses.  Goal - find Turkish towels.  We made a pitstop at Starbucks to warm up before venturing out through all the markets.

I want to bathe in a vat of olives.

While on a fruitless search to a towel store (thanks a lot, Google maps), we passed yet another amazing dessert store.  We bought several random things that would later turn out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made.  Look at these options!

The shop owner even threw in some extras for us.  I'll never turn down more dessert.  
I'd given up on finding towels, but knew I had to find Ciya for lunch, since everyone talks about it.
And, success!
I ordered bozbas.
And Rob ordered the sour meatballs.  We swapped plates halfway through.  Delicious!
Drag queen Fritos?
We decided to hop back to Europe and hit the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market.  Really, you could spend days in there and not find your way out nor see everything.
We debated the price of Iranian saffron, the most expensive spice in the world.
I bought little lanterns.

And I couldn't resist these silk pillow covers.  Then I found a towel shop!  Super soft, super large, and I bought seven.  Family Christmas presents, check.
I also had to buy another suitcase to get it all home.
More markets.

Fish restaurants on the water.
We stopped off at Rob's friend's house to pick up some books that Rob had left there over the summer.  Then back to Taksim to drop off our goodies before dinner.
Dinner at Konak Kebap on Istiklal.

We got smoked out at the end and had to quickly leave before developing lung cancer.  We bought more dessert - chocolate baklava this time.
What we saw on the way home (traditional Turkish dancing?):
And finally it was time to jump into those desserts.  See that chocolate thing on the right?  IT IS THE BEST CHOCOLATE DESSERT THING I HAVE EVER EATEN. EVER.
Inside is a mousse/cake blend.  Outside is a dark chocolate fence.

On top are roasted and glazed hazelnuts and pistachios.
You can find this at Pasifik Pastanesi.  The neighbors probably thought we were doing something inappropriate, based on the noises we made while eating this.  It was incredible.  I think it cost a whole 2 dollars. I promise it would be worth the trip to Istanbul just to eat one of these.

Pretty soon it was almost midnight and Rob had to catch his bus back to Ankara, and I had to cram everything my bags before my morning flight home.

The next morning a couple Turkish guys were right outside my apartment, and one of them took one of my two suitcases and walked the 15 minutes with me to the Havas bus stop.  Thanks, mister!  I shed a couple tears as the bus rolled out of Taksim.  This was a great trip.

Airport security was insane - no less than 7 checkpoints for flights to the US.  I texted MCB that he'd better hurry and get there, though he had managed to show up early.  I ran into Jihan again in line - she was supposed to fly back the day before, missed her flight by ten minutes due to all those silly security checkpoints, had to buy a new place ticket and was now on my flight after a night in a sketchy hotel.  Seriously, what's the point of showing your passport to someone, walking 3 feet, showing it to someone else, then walking 4 ft and showing it to someone else?  All while in a single file, long, crammed line after you've already been through scanning machines and immigration?  I don't get it.

I survived the 14-hour plane ride back to LAX in a middle seat while listening to two families fighting over a crib they'd both reserved with the airline.  Seriously people - it's an airline, not a 5 star hotel.  You think that confirmations actually mean something?

A couple meals and several movies later, I was home.  Turkey - you haven't seen the last of me.  Thanks for a great time.

1 comment:

Emily said...

I had to stop the video after five was making me miss traveling too much. You caught just the part of travel that I love....sigh....

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