Date of Trip: April 2010
We left the Aya Sofia, and went exploring, as we walked toward the Grand Bazaar. We passed an ice cream store selling Mado ice cream, of which I heard, so I had some. It was good, but there was a sticky almost caramel texture to it that detracted, for me, from its overall quality.
We got to the Grand Bazaar, and decided that after purchasing a rug, we had had enough of buying and selling for the day. Except that Nancy really did want to buy some Apple tea. We found some at a large store across the street from the Grand Bazaar. In the meantime, I had gotten completely turned around, and realized that we were on upper Divan Yolu, and not at all close to the Spice Market. The afternoon was wearing on, and we were getting tired, again, so we decided to skip the pistachios, and go back to the hotel, which luckily was downhill. We really were much more tired than I had expected, possibly because of all the walking, but I think also because of the jetlag.
When we got to the hotel, we asked at the desk if a package (the rug) had been left for us. We were told that there was no package, and Nancy and I turned toward each other with some concern. Just then, however, the same youngster who had helped to show us the rugs came up behind us, cleared his throat to catch our attention, and handed us the package. He had been waiting for us the entire afternoon! Anyway, we went on to our nap, and awoke to find it raining and gloomy. We decided not to go to the meyhane in Beyoglu, and instead asked the hotel to reserve a table for us at Balikci Sabahattin, which was close to the hotel.
Dinner began with two very good mezes we selected from a tray: striped bass escabeche and smoked grilled eggplant puree. Then an excellent redfish (for Nancy) and a turbot (for me). Unfortunately, the turbot was somewhat overcooked; I found myself wishing that I had ordered the redfish. Dessert consisted of some fruit, then a semolina and icecream with dried apricot (interesting and delicious!). My take on this dinner was that it was good, it was expensive, and it was not quite worth the price. I might have liked the dinner better, I suppose, if I had sent the turbot back, but I didn’t. Also I was tired, and that has an effect on my ability to enjoy a good dinner.
Day #3, April 7. After the same wonderful breakfast at the Armada hotel, we decided that since our ride to the cruise terminal was scheduled for noon, we had enough time to visit Topkapi before then. We had been too tired on Monday to visit, and it was closed on Tuesday. So we walked up the hill and into the palace. It was raining, but the rooms were magnificent. Once again, though, the time available limited the options, and we had to skip the harem. As I’ve said before, I should have scheduled a week here.
We returned to the hotel, passing by a shop run by a Dervish, who chatted with us a bit about the way whirling was a mental state that did not permit you to fall down or make a mis-step. I would have liked to have seen their ceremony, which is open to the public, and to which he invited us. Again, no time. The driver from Backpackers arrived promptly, as had been arranged. He drove us across the bridge, and into the general area of the Cruise Terminal, but although we drove through a checkpoint, it was not the main gate. The driver didnt speak English, and he was supremely unhelpful; if he had asked the person at the checkpoint, he would have found that there was another gate, where there was access to the ships. As a result, despite our protests, we had to take a very long walk in the rain, dragging and carrying our luggage through puddles (did I mention that I have a back problem?), until we found the actual entrance to the port area. As we got there, we saw a taxi come up to the gate there, go through, and park in front of a nice little pavilion with our ship’s logo on it. We followed it, dragging our luggage, and turned our stuff over to the ship. We were far too bedraggled and exhausted to do anything but embark and collapse. We missed Beyoglu and Istiklal Caddesi, and worst of all, we missed the baklava at Gulluoglu. I really wanted that baklava. I guess we’ll have to come back.