Tuesday, April 17, 2012

4/13/12: Now It's Istanbul, Not Constantinople: Turkey Day 3

Day 3 in Turkey was probably the best in terms of weather, which was extremely fortunate for Susanna and me since we decided to book ourselves on a private cruise/tour of Turkey from the Bosporus. We were scheduled to be picked up from our hostel at 1pm to partake in this half day cruise so we decided not to try and squeeze something in in the morning for fear that we would not be back in time for the cruise. We slept in until about 10, decided to have a nice little breakfast at a very cute, European style, cafe by our hostel, and then decided to explore the surrounding area and do a little shopping; you always have enough time for shopping! We really were staying in the most quaint little area, where the buildings were brightly colored, and the streets strictly cobblestone.

Yay they don't hate us! 
After our mid morning exploration session it was time to head back and await our pickup for the cruise. Karma was very much on our side that day because it was the first, and only, remotely warm-ish day we experienced in Turkey. A tour bus came to gather us at around 1:15 and take us to our boat. When we boarded the vessel we waiting for one more group to come and then we were off! The interesting thing about tours in Turkey is that they are not exactly separated by language so we had a guide who said everything twice... Once in English and then in French. It was quite an experience :-)

One of the hostel owners

Our cute little boad 

Gorgeous day in Istanbul 

The first half of the cruise was exploring the side of Turkey that lies on the European continent. While sailing we could see all of Istanbul's most famous landmarks, including summer palaces of Sultans (turned into hotels today), grand mosques, bridges between the European side of Turkey and the Asian side, colleges, fortresses, and so much more, all while listening to explanations in both French and English :-)

I wouldn't mind having this as a summer home 

Finally it was time for our first off boat experience of the cruise (there were two). We were dropped off on the Asian side of Turkey to try a famous yogurt dish native to this part of Istanbul. I didn't quite know what to expect, and I am not one to try new types of food, but one of the hostel owners said that this yogurt dish was a "must try". We were given 20 minutes to eat and do a little sightseeing of the harbor. The yogurt tasted like most yogurts of this region, but what made the dish unique was that it was served with powdered sugar! I've never heard of that combination before but it was absolutely delicious! After taking a few pictures we headed back to the boat to continue our cruise.

The famous yogurt dish 

We continued our tour of the Asian side until we were let off, once again, to see a beautiful tower with a view overlooking all of Istanbul. After taking 15 or so minutes to enjoy the view it was back on the boat to begin our return trip to the Golden Horn where we began. At this point it was late in the afternoon and the sun hit the water in a way that made it look like a million glittering diamonds. As we pulled into the Golden Horn the call to prayer rang out all over the city; it was a perfect welcome home gift! I tried to capture a video but our lovely guide continued to talk through almost the whole call... What can you do!

When we docked Susanna and I decided it would be a good idea to go back and rest a bit before dinner. We had a little mix up and were under the impression that Pesach ended on this night so we were waiting until sunset to go to an Italian restaurant up the street where we would partake in eating pounds of bread and pasta... Well, we missed the memo that Pesach ended the next night, a fact that was point out to me by my friend Stephane, AFTER we had eaten the pasta... We were not so happy about this but we figured God would forgive us for drastically miscalculating this one time :-) After dinner it was back to our hookah bar for some hot chocolate and peppermint nargila followed by a good night sleep. We were about to brave the Turkish Hammams the next day and wanted to be fully rested. We were also leaving Turkey the next day at 2 in the morning so we knew this was our last chance to get a decent night sleep.

Stay tuned for the Hammam post! I apologize in advance for the explicit nature but you really can't get an idea of what goes on unless I'm rather descriptive, and since, for obvious reasons, there are no pictures I have to use my words!

Yom Nifla!
Jordana Simone 

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