Journal 13 -- May 27, 2006
Quick note, dinner is awaiting and good-grief, going OUT tonight.

By Bob Corbett

We have finally discovered an e-mail place just a block and half from our hotel which has real honest to goodness keyboards that work like home even if they are ancient and click and clack like typewriters.

I have finished James Joyce's Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man -- have had less reading time this trip than usual, and started a simply fascinating novel called Blood Tie, set in rural Turkey in 1972 and first published in 1977 winning the author the National book Award. The author Mary Lee Settle has incredible insight into cultural and linguistic misunderstandings and a cast of wild and exciting characters. I'm only about 50 pages into an almost 400 page book, but it bodes well for reading.

Our hotel abuts right up against another, and our roof top gardens are at the same level (5 stories up). In the hotel across the way are four folks from Maryland, an elderly man and his wife, and their daughter and son-in-law. We'd met them up at our favorite restaurant recently and chatted across roofs in the morning several days. Last early evening we were on our balcony sipping wine and chatting when the daughter -- late 20s, early 30s, came RUNNING down the street. Then about 10 foot from the door of her hotel she hit something in the cobblestone street and took off air born in a terrible fall. Turns out she was really lucky, she cut her leg just below the knee, and the leg is swollen and sore, but she seems to have suffered no other damages. It was quite a scene there for a while with a zillion people crowded around her and the father, on his cane and mother hurrying to the scene, her husband already there caring for her.

We chatted across roof tops this morning and she was in good spirits, but they invited us to leave our balcony tonight and join them on their roof top for drinks. Oh my, we were startled -- leave our little room and balcony after 5 PM, unheard of. But, they are really neat people and we knew it would be fun, so we accepted and while out and about today we picked up two bottle of really good Turkish wine to take with us.

It is late afternoon and we had a lovely day. Doing almost nothing of note. We rode the major tram to near the end line out of the tourist areas, and found a bus depot and just hopped on an empty bus and rode that to its end, and then got out and walked all around. We had ended up in the same area we were a few days ago and again found a lovely little shady and very breezy place where we had a Turkish tea and sat for a while.

Then we stumbled upon a soccer tournament of teen players and we crowded up to the fence with lots of other folks and watched some of that. It was too hot to do that too long, and I had taken Sally's backpack since we actually purchased four bottles of wine, two for tonight on the folks’ roof and some for Sunday in case stores aren't open, and perhaps even into Monday. But her backpack was quite heavy with all that wine.

We did try to find a shady bench in the great water park outside Hagia Sophia, but today is Saturday and the place is just wildly jammed, and besides it was later than we normally are when we get back to there. We had come here yesterday and used these computers and didn't have any small money so they just said, pay us later. Thus we came back here both to use these U.S.-friendly keyboards and to pay our just debts.

But, a real feast awaits us just 6-8 doors up the street at "our" place, where we've eaten at least four times. It is simply wonderful food and we're almost but not quite running out of new dishes to try. Yesterday we did get some grilled chicken wings that were so delicious that it will be one of our shared courses today. We've started eating in the fashion that we only order one item, share that, then and only then order a second item -- each item takes 10 - 15 minutes to prepare. And we have a beer while waiting. Yesterday we did that for only two items, but they insisted we have tea and dessert, so we did that too. But, we took only one of the delicious desserts and shared it. We were there well over two hours and our bill was just about $20.00. And we were so stuffed we could barely walk home, but we made it the 7 doors from the restaurant to our hotel.

And, we had walked 6.5 miles yesterday, so we didn't feel to bad about our major meal feast. Later after dark (sun sets about 9 PM) we only ate a small handful of nuts and raisins each and shared a lovely bottle of Turkish wine. We never did run into the folks from the hotel next door, and that had been their last night in Istanbul, so the next morning they weren’t even up for breakfast. I would guess they had to get to the airport, and the night before somehow just got delayed.

We have been very impressed with Istanbul's public transport system. Tickets are just about one U.s. dollar to use. The trams are nicely air-conditioned, and neither buses or trams allow people to use cell phones and if one rings, oh my goodness a hull-a-balloo breaks out and the person gets yelled at big time. It doesn't happen often.

Bob Corbett



Bob Corbett