Journal 14 -- May 29, 2006
Two marvelous days, one busy and exciting, one relaxing and fascinating

By Bob Corbett


Oh my, just wrote you a long note about yesterday and today and somehow it seems to have disappeared. So, here goes version two of the same note.

Yesterday Sally and I decided to take a very easy and restful day, doing almost most nothing. We planned to at least walk over to the Grand Bazaar, about 1 1/2 miles, go to the street before one gets there, behind a large mosque, get one of the very shady benches on this breezy street and watch people. But, it turns out it was one of the major holidays of the year in Istanbul, the 500th or some such number anniversary of a major victory by the Turks over some enemy. The Grand Bazaar was closed and the whole area was utterly deserted. While we regretted the loss of the great people watching opportunity, the quiet and utter privacy on this street was marvelous, so we decided to sit and read for a couple hours. Soon one young Muslim couple came along, a young woman in the whole black outfit like a 1950s U.S. nun and a young bearded man. They sat a few benches from us and fell into a lively discussion of some book.

After a long and lovely sit and read, I began to think that there was no way there wouldn't be some markets somewhere, and we were at the top of a very high hill, a warren of tiny three foot wide streets in a working class area stretching down to the Sea of Marmara. We set off. It was really eerie. Not a human being anywhere. Street after street, block after block in a canyon of high buildings and not a human being anywhere. It was really strange. Finally after 6-8 blocks and several turns here and there, a few people were on the streets, a car at a cross street, and then we turned a corner and BAM, a street of people marketing. But, these were not the bazaar keepers and the shop keepers. These were amateurs who had just set up goods, used often, some new. No carpets, gold and diamonds, no postcards or tourist kitsch, just clothing, kitchen goods, an entire BLOCK of merchants selling pets, another for flowers, seeds, gardening equipment, another with live animals, but clearly not as pets but for eating -- rabbits, ducks, chickens and such. It was just awesome.

Finally we got near the bottom and came across and entire large block behind yet another gigantic mosque that had seating in the middle under huge trees and was surrounded in a large square or rectangle by tiny food shops.

We chose one designated (different furniture separate place one from place two and so on) in a way that struck us. Ours was very oriental, with large 15 foot long sofa like seats which were rugs and deep 1 1/2 foot deep pillows and cushions. It was really charming. We were underneath the shade of a gigantic sycamore tree which had to be 60 tall or more and huge width at the top.

We ordered some chicken meat from a spit and some beer. Then we had a great laugh when we watched our waiter go to this tiny place. Like the others it was about 12-15 foot wide wooden stand, at most 10 foot deep. But this one had the entire trunk of that sycamore trees INSIDE the shop. The trunk must have been six foot in girth. On one side were some vertical spits with meat, nothing horizontal could have been there. The tree went to the very front, and out front, against it was an ice box with soda and water, they go the beer from another shop. In back of the tree was about a two and half food passage to about 2 foot on the other side. It was hilarious.

Our chicken was delicious but not huge, we split it. It was only about $1.80.

After we left there we went back toward home and stopped at our favorite restaurant just a block from our place and had another of our feasts.

Today was much more spectacular and one of the best days of the whole trip. We left our place at 8:30, went down to the harbor and took a long ferry ride on the Bosporus, almost all the way to the Black Sea. At the end of the ride the ferry stopped at a tiny village for three hours, and we headed off. It only had a few streets and we found a lovely restaurant right on the Bosporus, our table no more than 5 foot from the water, but shady and breezy.

Well this was the meal of the trip so far. As I described, we order one item, share it, and only then call for the menu to order another and keep this up until we are full (or more than full). We first had a lovely salad -- but dang, I forget not to check the peppers with a nibble and about burnt my mouth on a whole pepper. Second we got a sea bass. Sally normally doesn't eat fish, but will eat an occasional white fish which this was. She was just as enthusiastic about it as I. It was fresh and lovely and whole. I am decent at things like removing the head and de-boning it, so I did that job giving her and me each a lovely filet. It was simply wonderful. After than and another beer we ordered a whole sole. It was also good, but nothing like the bass, and so we ordered another bass!!!!!

We were really stuffed, and Sally ended her meal with a hot apple tea and I had a large raki, sort of a Turkish version of ouzo.

We are just a block from home. It is now almost 6:30 PM, the latest we've been out on the whole trip. We'll head home and open a nice bottle of wine on our balcony in time for the sunset and were we hungry, which is doubtful, we do have a few cookies and still some nuts and raisins we purchase nearly a week ago!!!

Off to relax for the evening.




Bob Corbett