Istanbul Turkey, Day 5 of Europe 2011

15 06 2011

Teşekkür Ederim!                                                                            Day 5- June 15                                                                           Highlights: Hotel location, Beyazit Square, Ahmed, Zeinub

Teşekkür ederim means ‘Thank you very much’ in Turkish. If you ever go to Turkey, learn how to say these words and say them right… Theh-Sheh-Koor   Eh-Dheh-Rim. You can do it!!

Istanbul is everything that everyone has said it is… full of culture and history, east meets west, blend of old and new and it is HUGE! We have dedicated a total of 6 days to this city (4 at the beginning, 2 at the end) and for good reason too. There is just so much to do… and when there is that much to do, you have to balance it with blocks of having nothing to do which means smoking a lot of nargile (Sheeha/Hookah/Water-Pipe) and drinking a lot of Efes, the local beer.

We are staying in Sultanamet which is considered the ‘old city’ of Istanbul. It’s a great location to be based at because a lot of the major sites like the Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Mosaic Museum, Grand Bazaar and the Basilica Cistern are all close to each other and were walking distance from where we were – The Barceló Hotel. Oh yes… and the Topkapi Palace was minutes away as well.

By the time we arrived and got settled in Istanbul on Wednesday the 15th, it was sometime in the early evening so we decided to explore the area. While we were walking, we discovered somewhat of a common theme amongst other Muslim countries we have been to before…  most area’s have themes to them as opposed to what we see in North America where there are plazas and strip malls all over the place. In Istanbul, while we were walking, we noticed that all of a sudden we were in the ‘children’s’ area. Stores upon stores of children’s clothes, children’s toys, mini bikes and mini shoes everywhere. Then we turned the corner and we saw tires, car parts and handy services all over the place, then came the women’s clothing section. And the entire time all I could think about was ‘For the love of Jesus, please tell me there is a ‘Food’ section coming up because these corn  and ‘ekmek’ (bread) stands that I’m seeing on every other corner are not going to cut it for me right now.

It’s true when they say ‘Ask and you shall receive’ because moments after I had that thought, F and I stumbled upon an entire intersection full of restaurants. Of course since we were never told about it, we assumed that this little area was a secret gem that nobody knew about. Seeing as every restaurant had ‘Kumpkapi’ written beside it, I investigated a bit further and discovered that we were in the ‘Kumpkapi/Beyazit’ square… a very popular and well known area in Sultanamet.

One of the best parts of travelling is the people you get to meet and interact with along the way. While I tend to be a bit shy sometimes, Farhan is the opposite. Any opportunity he has to say ‘What’s your name? I am Ferrrhaaan and this is my wife, Farrahhh’ he will take it. I really am thankful for that because if he wasn’t as friendly as he is, we wouldn’t have learned that our waiter’s name is ‘Ahmed’, and learning to say ‘Teşekkür Ederim’ or ‘Hesap’ (bill) would have taken a lot longer than it did. I have to tell you about the cutie little peanut we saw at this restaurant we were at. Ahmed told us that she was the owner’s granddaughter… Zeinub, and she was the cutest, chubbiest little thing ever. I couldn’t help but take a million photos of her just sitting and pouting at one of the tables. Poor thing was probably bored out of her skull watching a bunch of adults around her smoking nargile and drinking Turkish cay (chai), but for us adults… it couldn’t have been more perfect. We had people to the left of us playing backgammon,  people to the right smoking away, Zeinub running around trying to entertain herself and the entire street just singing, dancing and laughing the whole night. I swear it felt like Christmas in the summer. Even the way this entire intersection was lit up… Christmas lights and Icicles everywhere… just no snow. It was perfect!! As Farhan said while we were walking along the water in the dark at 930pm, watching tons and tons of fishermen at work ‘Wow, Turks definitely know how to do maja (party).’ That they do dear husband… that they do!