Journal 15 -- May 30, 2006

By Bob Corbett


It's been another marvelous day in Istanbul. I've been thinking about all the places I've been and I am prepared to make a bold recommendation. I would suggest to any of you who haven't done a great deal of travel, and who aren't wedded to some place as just so very special (i.e. some of the Dogtown folks have be born and bred with a desire to go to Ireland), then I would recommend that were you going to make one single trip abroad in your life that it should be to Istanbul, Turkey.

Why this bold recommendation? It has so much to offer.

Yep, I'm becoming a tourist tout for Turkey!!!!

Having said that one may ask, so what did you do in this marvelous city today and I guess another part of what makes me love it so is that I can say: Almost nothing and had a phenomenal time doing it. We left the hotel about 9 AM, walked to the Grand Bazaar, straight through it and wandered through the maze of tiny souks (markets) BELOW the bazaar, toward the port. We were headed back to the spice market. Sally had gotten a few spices before, but we've been talking to the restaurant folks at our favorite place and have some recipes which require local spices and we got them in spades, plus Sally got herself some of the apple tea she so likes. While there we loaded up on more nuts and raisins and some little Turkish treat the guy talked us into. We’ve been eating on that one batch we had purchased days ago and we still have a bit left, but we had only paid $5.00 for that whole batch. We figured we'll run out tonight and can have plenty now even to carry with us to Barcelona on Friday.

After that we rode the tram back up to the top of this huge hill and headed for the Grand Bazaar again, but this time to get our favorite bench next to this lovely mosque where we can people watch folks going into the bazaar. We immediately got a lovely bench in the shade, a prime viewing bench and we both had our books, so we alternated between reading and gaping at interesting passers-by. There are easily more than 50-100 people passing you every single minute all day long, often many more in rush periods.

Early afternoon, Sally decided it was time for her to leave and she took off by herself and headed for one of the most famous Turkish baths in Istanbul. We had both visited the place yesterday and early today to check on prices and such, and so she was all up for striking out on her own, and off she went.

They had estimated an hour "or so" and then it is an option to take a nap after this long experience of bath and massage, and I suggested she sleep all she wanted if she wanted and if she wasn't back by dark I'd go home and meet her at the hotel.

Well late in the afternoon I figured it might be the "go home at dark" notion since no Sally. Two delightful women from California had come along and one sat on my bench the other on the next bench and struck up a conversation. They were Roman Catholic women on a pilgrimage tour but were utterly disgusted by their elderly Catholic priest guide who embarrassed them to death since he was so insensitive to Muslim places of worship, the mosques. We talked for ages and then who shows up but Sally, looking about as spry as a young rabbit and glowing. But, she's going to write her own take of the Hamam (Turkish Bath), mail it to me and I will make that a part of the next note. My, my, my, I may well have made a great mistake in not going, but then Sally may go back before we leave!!!

These two women I was talking to were American black women and they were very frustrated that the Turks seem to have never seen a black person -- I think these two women were two of only four black people I've seen in Istanbul in over a week we've been here. They were frustrated since TURKS want to take their picture all the time and kids just stop and stare. They were much less excited about Turkey than I and were quite happy they were leaving Istanbul for Greece tomorrow.

Now folks, I'm utterly famished. It is later than we normally stay out and we haven't even been to the restaurant. Oh me, two beers won't even get me out of the first course today. I'm parched and famished. We might even do that phenomenal "mixed grill for two" thing with the flaming platter and all tonight, not sure....

Be back tomorrow or so.....

Hopefully tomorrow will be another day with no plans, no destinations, just roaming around taking pot-luck on what comes our way. When we get tired of walking we'll just hop on a bus (I always carry a few tickets) and let Istanbul do with it what it will.




Bob Corbett