Category Archives: Turkey

Posts about our visits to Turkey

Our Photos, Did You Notice?

Did You?


Michelangelo’s David is NOT in Corfu!

Some of the shots in Istanbul were out of order. The Blue Mosque appears in two sequences, though we only visited once. That’s not egregious. Worse I had neglicted to remove photos from the root directory, Europe2015, when the subdirectories were created. That too is not egregious. However, there were a significant number of photos attributed to Corfu which clearly should be placed in Florence.

I have also included hi-res images and links to them from the thumbnails. The hi-res images can be downloaded.

All is right with the world now, or at least all is right with one vastly small part.


Seabourn Day 4, Kusadasi Evening.

This evening Seabourn hosted a complimentary outing for their guests, a classical performance in the ancient ruins of Ephesus. Dinner opened early to allow passengers time to dress for dinner, eat a relaxed meal, dress for an evening out, and disembark. We had a marvelous meal in the Colonnade Restaurant, and took a bit too much time getting ready. We were among the last to disembark and board the busses.

The busses took us to the south entrance which leads through a colonnade of trees to the marble ancient thoroughfare which led from the port to the amphitheater in ancient times. As we approached the marble thoroughfare, a photographer took complimentary photos as a memento of the evening and a waiter offered us a choice of red or white wine.

The main street was set with tables and chairs covered in white linen to accommodate us all. Walking toward the dining area, we saw a stage setup midway between the tables to our right. All the tables ahead of us were taken and we were ushered toward the back, well away from the stage. As we passed the stage, a fellow stepped out and asked, “Seating for two?” “Yes” I said. He directed us to two chairs almost directly in front of the stage.

We shared a table with a grandmother and her granddaughter, neither of whom fit the stereotype. They were fun to talk with. Conversation turned to travel, food, work, retirement.

Then an announcer took stage, welcomed us to the ancient city of Ephesus, reminded us of the famous people who once walked this very street: Caesar, Mark Antony and Cleopatra, the virgin mother Mary, and that the apostles were exiled, came here, and converted Ephesus to Christianity, which is how the religion took hold. Then a chamber ensemble took the stage and tuned up: five violins, a cello, and a base. They were very very good and played some of my favorite classical pieces.

During intermission, we walked to the amphitheater for photography and walked down a side street toward the ancient library. A security guy stopped us, then for some reason let us go. He said, “come back in 5 minutes and you can continue”. There were five of us: Ellen and I, another couple who followed us, and our grandmother (who did not seem like a grandmother). We had the monument to ourselves for about ten minutes. No crowds, just the five of us. Ellen and I had done this in Argentina Sicily when visiting the ancient ruins there. A guard let us walk into the temple at night; we were the only ones there. Here we were again! After taking a few photos and marveling at our luck, we went back an took our seats.

The second half of the performance was easily as good as the first half. They played a number of my absolute favorite classical pieces and a few that I had never heard before. I recorded some of one piece. When the concert ended, most people headed to the busses. We stayed behind to take a few more photos. Sunset painted the sky and the amphitheater was lit up. We were the last few people headed to the busses and among the last to board. It turns out the busses had to wait anyway, so we were not “that couple” who held things up.

Getting back to the boat, we stopped at a shop to look for gifts, but found nothing to our tastes. By now we were the last stragglers. As we approached the ship, we noticed nearly the entire crew lined up outside swaying to a conga beat. Someone on a microphone introduced Mr. Ron Lanett and Ms. Ellen Kane and we swayed and bounced to the conga beat. A waiter offered a nightcap of Baileys as we continued to dance our way back aboard. It was a special evening.

The Seabourn band was playing on the pool deck. We could clearly hear them as we walked up the spiral staircase to deck 6. We changed and went to deck 9, the pool deck and danced until the band closed at 11Pm.

It was a full day and fascinating. Tomorrow promises to be another full day.

We took a number of photos of Ephesus. This is the most complete ancient city I have ever seen.


Seabourn Day 4, Kusadasi Turkey

We had a light early breakfast then off on a tour of Ephesus. Between 300 BC and 500 AD Ephesus was one of the busiest trading ports in the Mediterranean. It’s amphitheater can hold twenty five thousand people. Ephesus is the best preserved ancient city I have ever visited and I had no idea it exists.

We left early and our bus with maybe 24 people arrived well ahead of the swarms. Seabourn was the second cruise ship to dock and we were told there were at least three more on the way. These are large ships carrying thousands of passengers. The thirty minute ride from Kusadasi to Ephesus went by very quickly. Our tour guide, Carney, was great at keeping us entertained and describing ancient Ephesus. We started at the top of the hill where the royalty resided working our way down to the commoner’s area and the library.

Ceylan mentioned that the main street of Ephesus was one of only three streets in the ancient world that was illuminated at night. There were torches setup along the main street from the harbor, now silted in, and the amphitheater. Only three cities were lit a night in the ancient world: Rome, Antioch, and Ephesus. Antony and Cleopatra honeymooned in Ephesus and it is said walked the lighted street in the evening.

We took copious photos of the ruins. The terrace houses are being reconstructed and to preserve the ancient frescos, the Turkish government has erected a roof over the houses. The upper city was amazing, but the lower city and terrace houses are mind blowing. Ancient Ephesus had heated floors, a sewer system, and baths with hot, warm, and cold water. The floors were heated with pipes set in the floors that connected to a fire pit that was kept burning and provided heat through the pipes. The was an eternal flame, a fire that was kept burning to mark the immortality of the city. Throughout the ruins there are status to the gods: Artemis, Nike, Hercules, Medusa.

Trade between Paris and Ephesus is documented by pottery recovered from ship wrecks dating back to BC, with writing such as “red wine from Paris destined for Ephesus” at the neck. A document recovered from the city details one woman’s expenses and a debt a neighbor owed for a loan. The frescos and mosaic floors show extremely well executed artwork with vibrant colors. We took about half of the tour going through the overhead walkway over the houses.

The last part of the tour went by the Library’s facade, a brothel, and the amphitheater. There is a lesser amphitheater in the royal part of the city used by the city fathers to discuss events and to vote to determine courses of action. There was (is?) an underground pathway between the Library and the Brothel. “Honey, I’m going to the library to do some research”, or as a pastor said, “bookish on ;one side and nookish on the other”.

The amphitheater is truly immense. Not so large as the Colessium, but quite large.

What an enchanting place Ephesus is to visit. We are going back for a classical music recital this evening around dusk. We (Seabourn passengers) will have the site to ourselves this evening.

In two words this experience is: Simply Amazing.


Istanbul day 3, evening and Seabourn day 1.

After we had eaten a bit, discussed family a bit, talked about the Kurds a bit, the uncle made a few sales pitches. If we bought this carpet and returned the one we had purchased he would charge us only Z, “don’t worry, is a great deal”. If we take both he could charge us less for the carpet, “don’t worry”. Finally after 2 hours of what really was fun, we settled on just the wall hanging we had. We were getting up to leave, when the uncle asked, “Which hotel are you staying. I drive you my personal car” We demur-ed, he insisted, we insisted, and he would not take no for an answer. He had his car and driver come around and we had a ride back to Sishane in a Mercedes 5 series and the uncle’s personal driver. He is not doing badly for himself at all!

That evening we went out to walk the town, had a beer and Raki, Turkey’s’ take on Ouzo.

The next morning we went out for cappuccino and a bit of last minute shopping for trinkets (talisman against the “evil eye” and such). To our amazement we walked opposite our typical direction and discovered we walked into Taksim square! We had taken the metro to Taksim square thinking it was far from “home”, and here we could simply walk there. Beyoglu is a small neighborhood and quite walkable.

We walked home from Taksim Square to pack. I had called Ali, the fellow who drove us from the airport, to ferry us to Karakoy, the cruise ship terminal. It fell to me to carry the luggage down the four flights of steep narrow steps to the street where Ali carried them to his car. Finding the Seabourn embarkation point was simple. A porter hauled our luggage to Seabourn’s handlers and we were off after passing though customs.

Seen from the pier, the Seabourn Odyssey looks huge. Aboard it feel intimate. There are 248 passengers and 300 crew. The ship is gorgeous, well maintained, and fun. I’ve read some very negative Seabourn reviews and I must conclude that some people are happiest complaining about everything.

We toured the ship and took some photos of Istanbul as we departed for Myrna Greece. Dinner abort ship was fabulous and we took our time savoring each bite. We ordered caramelized scallops on a bed of seasoned linguine, salad, white and red wine, and for desert soufflé. The waiter presented the soufflé to Ellen, cut a hole in the center with a spoon, and poured liquid chocolate into the soufflé.

We awoke this morning with the ship at sea. We will anchor at Myrna, Greece and take a tender ashore for our first excursion: a 4×4 tour of the island. Ellen and I will share driving. I had asked Pam, our travel agent, what she thinks would happen if I simply left the convoy to explore on my own. She said there was a lead and trailing car and that they would quickly corral me and herd me back to the convoy. She Said, “You don’t want to be “That Couple”, the ones who cause trouble, do you?” Well, No.

Ellen is at the salon at the moment. There is a weight/exercise room, a spa, a salon, a card room, reading room, three restaurants, a few Jacuzzi, a sauna, a pool, two putting greens, a shuffle board area, and plenty of deck verandas for lounging.

I will miss Istanbul. It was very lively and bustling. The next time we visit Italy, we will make a point of visiting Istanbul again. It’s a fairly short hop on Pegasus Air.


Istanbul day 3, evening

Another mind-blowing day. Ellen took one look at the gathering clouds and said, “we should take our rain jackets”. “Nah, I said. It looks just like yesterday. The clouds will burn off by noon.”

We first walked down music alley to find the electric Lute I had seen. The past two days the shop was closed. Not today. I stepped in and asked to play an instrument. There were three guys in the very small shop; the owner, a sales guy, and a friend. The sales guy pulled down a standard Lute and I suggested he get the electric lute down. He plugged the Lute into an amp, checked the tuning, and handed it to me. Now I know my way around a guitar. This was a fretless Lute. It was beautiful to look at; that’s what drew me to the instrument. I tried to make sense of the tuning and did not have a clue. I could not make music on the thing! Sounds came out of the amplifier, sure, but I cannot even call them notes. It was more like a goat or sheep braying. The sales guy took the lute and showed me how to make it sing and handed it back to me. Well there was no magic transferred between us, I still sounded very very sadly lame. To rescue my ego, I asked to play a guitar. A nice gut stringed guitar was plugged into the amp and I was in business. Now I could at least rescue some of my mortally wounded self. The Rolling Stones rocked the little store for a few tunes. I asked the price of the Lute; I would really like to learn a fretless instrument and that one was beautiful.

Off we went to Taksim Square, famous for something Taksim Square is one stop “up” from Sishane. Before heading out this time we noted points of the compass from the Taksim metro station and knew how to get to Faros, a five star restaurant just off the square. What we found at Taksim square should not have surprised me. We stepped out into commercial anywhere big city. Yes, the statues were Turkish and there were lots of Turks walking about, but the feel was U.S.A. all the way. Hilton, Intercontinental, and other big name hotels were very much present. We walked into the Intercontinental to check it out, went through security, and were amazed at the opulence. While we loitered, a Sheik in a white robe walked over to his party in the lobby. Ellen photoed the fellow, but not face on. We left and found the Faros restaurant right where we thought it would be, but what a disappointment. The menu was posted outside and it was a vast array of typical American food. I’m sure each entry was excellent, but we did not visit Istanbul to eat as if we were in Palo Alto. I was tempted to find a good cappuccino as I’m sure one could be found there. Instead we chose to take the metro to the old city and see Topkapi Palace and the Roman Cistern.

As we were heading to the metro, my phone rang. Friends and family know not to call unless there’s an emergency. I did not recognize the number, thought it was international. I let the phone ring. The phone rang a second time and this time I picked up out of curiosity. A voice, “Who is this?” Me, thinking you called ME, you should know, “I’m Ron, who is this?” The voice, “You have to move immediately. Someone is coming in now!” Me, thinking what this can’t be happening,”No, we have paid for tonight. Paid for 4 days through the 4th.” The voice, “OK, let me check our records.”, and “the voice” rang off. There is no way we could check out from Taksim square “now” if we wanted to. We had not reached the stairs down to the metro when “the voice” called back, ” I am very sorry, it was our mistake. Very sorry. We confused you with someone else. We are extremely sorry. Thank you very much, we were wrong. You can stay tonight. We are very sorry.” This was the most extreme and gracious apology I have ever received. I had not panicked at the first call because I carry documentation showing that we are paid through June 4th. Still it was unsettling.

By now the clouds should have burned off, but had not. We scrambled down the metro trying to find the yellow line which connects the green line (Sishane to Taksim) with the blue line which goes to Sultanahmet and the blue mosque etc. We wandered up and down excavators and could not find the yellow line. We had to buy tickets anyway so we approached the ticket kiosks. There was a gaggle of Muslim women in full burkas trying to figure out the 3-pass kiosk (the only one I knew how to use). We moved over to the single pass machines and there we overheard a woman asking a metro cop how to get to the blue mosque. Eureka! Even better she did not know how to use the single pass machines either. The metro cop showed us both. By the time we got our tokens, the woman was gone. Ok, no problem. We went through the turn style then saw signs saying exit! That’s not right, we thought so we turned back and went through the turn style in the “free” direction. Realizing that’s not right we turned back to go through the free direction the wrong way. We looked like turn style jumpers to a local shop owner who set upon us with a hue and cry as if we were murdering someone. The metro cop joined in the fray. The more I explained (in English) what we were doing the more agitated the cop and the show owner became. I had visions of rotting in a Turkish jail for not paying for a 4 Lira ticket ($1.30). Eventually the copy relented (he probably recognized us) and with the cop gone, the shop owner lost interest. We went out the “exit” to find ourselves at the blue line metro entrance. The train was sitting there about to leave when the doors opened for a a couple ahead of us. We were not sure which side of the station “our” train stopped and in that moment of hesitation the doors closed. With authority, we approached the doors thinking that we had a 50/50 chance of getting it right. The doors opened and we had it right.

We were many stops from Sultanahmet and people came and went on either side of us. Seating fills fast on the metro; you have to move fast to get a seat. We stood most times shifting from side to side of the train ahead of the doors opening to disgorge or engorge another phalanx of humanity. This train was so full we could hardly breath; no moving from side to side. There was a Muslim family father, mother in birka, son, and two cute girls. Ellen interacted with the girls, but the father was not impressed. On another train ride a Muslim mother, not in a birka, enjoyed seeing her son play with Ellen between stops. Well not this family.

When we reached sultanahmet station the weather had turned a bit. There was a very slight intermittent rain falling. Right off the platform we encountered a fellow selling umbrellas. Fellow (in Turkish), “need an umbrella”. Me, “no, we don’t need one. well how much?” Fellow,” 30 TL.” Me, “too much”, and walked a few steps. Fellow,”OK, 20Tl”. Me, “10Tl”. Fellow,”no.” and HE walked away!

No problem. I had seen a “green corner” marker and a restaurant on a bluff overlooking the main street. It looked like a great place for a brief lunch before seeing Topkapi Palace. We found our way to the restaurant quite easily. Seeing the menu it was apparent that we had escaped Taksim square only to find the U.S. of A. firmly embodied in the menu. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating ethnic US foods: Greek, Italian, Russian, Korean. It’s all good. What I don’t particularly like is traveling thousands of miles to order food I could get at home. Worse still, the manna-be US food does not come close to the real thing. No. Give me great local food every time. Still we were here and hungry. We made due.

While we were sitting the heavens opened up. The rain started slowly and built. At first people were running by to avoid getting very wet. As the rain grew, the runners grew fewer. The rain was so hard for so long that the street above us flowed through the front door and across the floor. The kitchen was outside and runners getting food to the table had to purchase umbrellas to keep dry. The rain continued to build and now thunder, big low booms of rolling thunder punctuated the cacophony of the rain drops. The patio the food runners traversed began to flood with water coming in through the patio doors. The canvas overhead began to sag over the food prep/ordering area and lightening now preceded the boom of the thunder. Still the rains came on. To keep the roof overhead from collapsing, servers used a stool and brooms to force the roof up and drain the collected water. The down spouts were gushing and the lightening and thunder were closing together. That 20 Tm umbrella looked pretty good to me right about now. There was no way we could leave the restaurant without getting soaked through and getting very very cold. Still the rains came and the kitchen shut down. Or order had come, been consumed, and gone by now. We ordered apple tea to justify our staying seated though practically no one was coming or going. I could feel drips of water coming through the roof, the floor was wet, and the patio awash. Ellen and I were laughing about not wanting spend 20TL ($7.00) on an umbrella and now paying the price. The street vendor was probably laughing at our frugality. At the time I wanted to see how low the vendor would go. I guess 10Tl was too low.

The rains continued. They abated now and then with the promise of clearing only to darken and get worse moments later. We had spend an hour and a half now, most of that nursing apple tea. During one lul I headed to the men’s room and coming out there was a guy coming in holding two umbrellas! Great, I asked him if they were for sale. “How many you want” I said two which he interpreted as needing two more than he had. He said, “OK” and scurried away, not heading to the men’s room. The next fellow in line gave me a thumbs up and said, “Thanks” with a big grin. When the vendor returned I bought two umbrellas for 20Tl each. But by that time the rain was clearing and the umbrellas were unnecessary.

I spend the last of my Turkish money on the umbrellas. I had given Ellen 100Tl earlier and that was consumed by the check for lunch. We left the restaurant with a bunch of credit cards and maybe 14Tl.

On the way back to the Topkapi Palace we saw a sign for the Byzantine Cistern and headed that way. We saw and joined a relatively short line to enter the cistern. I said, “I hope there isn’t an admission fee. We’re almost out of Turkish Lira.” Well, there was and after going through the line, we had to step back out of line and find a change machine or other service. What a bummer. We headed off to find one and a Turkish fellow stopped us and asked if we were looking for a money machine or an exchange service. Clearly he had watched us exit the line and perhaps had been watching us longer. I said, “Yes we are, but you are not going to sell us a carpet!” I said this because we had encountered carpet salesmen at the blue mosque the day before. I was being funny. We talked a bit. The fellow’s name was Rham or Rhamad. Rham directed us to a money machine and said he would be waiting when we exited the cistern. Armed with a cash infusion, we had no problem waiting in the now longer entrance line and paying the $40TL admission price each. ($80 TL = ~$27.00).

The cistern dates from the 3rd or 4th century BC and was extended or modified over time. It is 30 feet high and arranged in 12 rows of 28 columns each and is 9,800 square meters in area. It can hold 2,800,000 cubic feet of water and, with a filtration system, was the source of water for the Great Palace of Constantinople. The Romans are among the worlds most successful engineers. The cistern is amazing to behold. It is entirely intact. We will have to pour through our photos to cull the best of the best. We were so enchanted, we could not stop oooh and ahhh, nor taking photos.

When we exited the cistern, there was Raman waiting for us. Ellen thought he would show up and he did. Raman assured us he was not going to sell us a carpet, but did explain that his family is in the rug, jewelry, and leather business. He wanted to show us his family’s shops and their plans for expansion. Also on the top floor there was an exceptional view of the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque for photography would we like to go up? Sure why not. He was such a friendly guy. And he did show us several building that housed carpets his family had acquired over the years. Through all this Raman did not show us any carpets. He showed us a new shop under construction, a seating area for BBQ style food, and we took an elevator to the top of the building. The view of Topkapi Palace was great. We had some trouble with the sliding door into an office on the Blue Mosque side. It refused to open more than 16 or 18 inches. We wormed our way through. Clearly our diet agreed with me; I barely squeezed through. The view of the Blue Mosque was obstructed by a building in the near foreground. We had our photographs and lots of information about his business. For instance, to ship a carpet would be $150.00 US, but for him with a deal worked out through DHL his fee was $20.00. Ram was very eager to use his English. He did say that if we were to purchase a carpet there was no need to carry one with us and no worries about the cost of shipping. Great, but we do not want to purchase a carpet. I’m worried about getting home dry.

We took the elevator down to street level and were headed out the door when Ellen asked, “Do you have a WC?” Raman, “Of Course!” and we turned into a room stacked to shoulder level with carpets, a couch with stuffed side chairs, and a stairway down to the basement and Ellen’s WC. We had walked past many rooms full of carpets in a number of building owned by this family. The room we walked into was no different than any other, except for the couch and that this room had the most gorgeous small carpet mounted on the wall.

Ellen and I have very particular tastes. We can easily walk through tens or hundreds of shops and not care a bit for anything. This carpet stopped both of us short. It was gorgeous. We asked Raman about this carpet and he explained that this particular carpet was made of silk, from their own design, and that it took 1.5 to two years to compete. It has a knot density of 100 knots per cm2. Again he was very proud of this design and his family’s trade in the carpet business. While Ellen went downstairs, Raman and I continued to discuss his business.

I asked Raman what a carpet like the one on the wall would cost and he became very coy. We both knew I was not interested in purchasing a carpet and Raman said if this were to sell in the US it would cost X,, here in Turkey the price would be very much lower. When Ellen came back upstairs I asked her what she thought of the wall hanging. She said she had never seen anything as beautiful in a carpet. Raman’s smile grew wide and he said, “If you like that carpet, I have something to show you!” He pulled two 8×10 carpets of the same material from a stack and threw the first one on the floor, rotating the carpet as it fell. The carpet went from a dark blue hue to a very light blue hue. “See the magic carpet? It is two carpets in one!”, said Raman. It was true seen from different angles the carpet actually changed color and very dramatically. He threw the second carpet down with the same effect. Both were stunning carpets. We asked Raman what his price on the wall hanging would be. Then the negotiation began and we arrived at a price. But I said we are not in the market for a carpet. We shocked Raman (and ourselves) by agreeing to purchase that carpet at his stated price if it was acceptable to him. We shook hands and the deal was done.

The Turkish celebrate a business deal by treating their customer as family. Three cups of apple tea appeared and we drank with Raman discussing this and that. While we were reveling in our mutual good fortune, Raman’s uncle appeared. We had a very pleasant conversion, the four of us, until something was said that brought color to Raman’s face and Raman took off like a shot. Raman was gone. The uncle then took us on a tour of his carpets from the comfort of our couch. He had people bring exquisite carpets of undeniable quality and compared them with similar mass produced carpets and carpets with rayon sewn into the weave. He showed us original carpets that must have been 60-100 years old with very tight knotting. “Because I like you, I will show you something I do not show to most customers. I will show you a special thing, don’t worry!” He showed us small wall hangings that are antiques and some of the most beautiful tapestry work I’ve seen. The uncle said he would give us very good price on any of the carpets we’ve seen and sweeten the deal if we included returning the wall hanging in the purchase. We declined. The uncle tried four different tactics with different pricing, different deliveries, different payment plans, but we declined each time.

Finally the uncle said, “I like you, you are like family. Let me offer to you a sample of Turkish food from our restaurant. Don’t worry, this is very good. Don’t worry, it is not a problem for us. What would you like lamb or chicken; mild or spicy. Don’t worry.” Sometime later two rather large plates of lamb kabob with an onion based salad, saffron rice, and bread arrived along with Fanta orange for me and bottled water for Ellen. The conversation turned to family. The uncle showed us photos of his family, his son and daughters. (to be continued…)

Istanbul Day 3, early morning

Sadly this is our last full day in Istanbul. Each day brings new delights as we walk the city. My initial shock at the location of our apartment has faded (not entirely) and I’ve come to terms with the mind boggling contrasts of Istanbul. It would be interesting see what accommodations in the old city on the “Europe” side are like and how they are priced.

If you plan to stay in Beyoglu, the Dogan Studios is not a bad choice. The area is quite safe, the people reasonably friendly. It seems the Turks keep to themselves for the most part.

There is a talisman in the apartment to ward off the evil eye. A Turk I worked with told me about this. It’s a superstition the Turks subscribe to. This talisman, a blue circle with a pink outer circle and a jet black inner circle is meant to protect you from harm. We will bring one of these back with us. You can never have enough protection!

A word about cats. The Istanbul is full of free range cats. They appear well taken care of; they are not feral cats (at least I don’t think so). There are not so many as to be a problem, at least not for us. But they are everywhere if you look for them.

So off for our morning coffee or tea. The Turks make a fabulous apple tea, but for me it will still be cappuccino in the morning. There’s a Starbucks here, but we have found nothing to compare with Roma’s cappuccino.

Off to Taksim Square to see more of Beyoglu then to Topkapi Palace, the spice bazaar (again), and just walking around.

Some of our Istanbul shots have moved to the photo album.



Istanbul day 2, evening

Again we stayed in relaxing after the day’s adventure. We lounged around, uploaded photos, and did a laundry. Yes the Dogan Studio has a clothes washer. In fact the apartment has a Bosch water heater, Seimens mini refrigerator and washer, and a very good AC unit.

The more we explore Istanbul, the more we appreciate the Dogan Studio. It is a bit of a walk up-hill to get to the metro or tunnel, but that isn’t all that bad. It is in a very vibrant part of Beyoglu, which is still hopping past midnight, We returned home well after midnight yesterday, a Wednesday. Tonight we headed home early at 11pm because we are exhausted (in a good way). The whole area was alive with people and music and looked to be going strong. The Dogan Studio is a 50 step 4th floor walk-up. It’s not a problem for us, but if we forget something, it is a pain going back up and down again.

A word about Turkey’s General Election which takes place on the 7th, the day after we sail off. The rally we encountered on the bridge was for the CHP, the Republic People’s Party, which is a left center social democratic party and the only serious opposition to Ahmet Davitoglu, Prime Minister of Turkey who took over from Erdogan. It felt like a left wing rally: it was up beat, happy, and un-aggressive. I wish them well.

This evening we walked past the metro and tunnel stations and walked down “music street”. I”m sure the street name is posted somewhere, but I have not seen it. This street has a concentration of musical instrument shops. The last time we walked here I saw and exquisite hand carved gourd instrument that I absolutely want to play. This was my goal in urging us down the “music street”. Understandably most of the shops were closed with steel garage doors locked in place. No wonder, they have a very expensive inventory. We continued down the street which veered steeply down to the right and came upon a square with a brightly lit tour at center surrounded by restaurants and a throng of people. To the left as we turned the corner there were wide steps going down the steep hill with perhaps a hundred or so people sitting, talking and laughing. This appears to be the city’s equivalent of the Spanish Steps of Roma.

Most interesting, many of the shops along the main boulevard were open and doing a brisk business. The Turks love to stroll in the evenings and eat ice cream, Turkish delight, or have a coffee and people watch. It is much the same all over the world.

Tonight I did not have the chance to play the bazouki (assuming that’s what it is), nor have I yet tried Raki, the local fire water. I think it is an anis based liquor with a no-holds barred punch.

Tomorrow we’ll return to the old city and stroll the back alleys and major boulevards “looking for adventure in whatever comes our way”

Istanbul, with understanding comes acceptance.


Istanbul Day 2 morning and afternoon.

We are definately getting over our jet lag. I had thought the four days in Roma would do it, but it’s taken a day longer.

We had a breakfast of buttered toast at home, then walked to the local Starbuck’s for coffee. Yes, there is a starbuck’s on the main drag in Beyoglu! The coffee was not up to California standards, but it was good. We also had a crossant like thing that was turkish spices atop a whole wheat thing. I enjoyed it, Ellen was less impressed.

Today we was some of the beauty of Old Istanbul. We took the Tunnel, the 2nd oldest and shortest subway in the world, from Tunnel Meydani (Beyoglu) to Karakoy on the Golden Horn and walked the Galata Korprusu bridge from Asia to Europe. The Tunnel was very cool. It seemed to run at 15 degrees downslope for much of the way. It is a single track dual train system. Each train is one car and the cars pass eachother on a short length of dual track at roughly mid-span.

This is a very quaint, but very efficient way to get from Beyoglu hill to Karakoy and one bridge to Europe. It was not crowded the two times we took it today.

The walk across the Golden Horn to Europe is visually stunning. Not only did we have expansive views of the mosques and skyline on either side, but there were innumerable ferries, party boats, cruise ships, tug boats, commercial ships plying the harbor, and a number of Turks fishing from the bridge. With Turkey’s election for prime minister in full swing, the bridge is adorned with red and white flags, a reminder to vote for one of the candidates.

The road on each side of the bridge carries very heavy traffic. Where manouvering through traffic is normal in Beyoglu, it would be hazardous here. There are underground walkways to get you from one side to the other under these busy thoroughfares. In one case there is a exit half way through the underground to access the blue line tram which takes you to Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.

Exiting the tunnel, we crossed under a thoroughfare that brought us to the bridge. We crossed the bridge and then took two underground passagways to get to the spice bazaar. We never actually entered the spice bazaar, but found vendors outside the bazaar that filled our needs. One fellow we spent at least an hour with said, “I keep my prices reasonable. I sell mostly to restaurants and locals who come in to buy spice for their large families. I sell to vendors in the bazaar and they mark the spice up then offer discounts. I do not offer discounts, but my prices are fair.” We took him at his word. If you are looking for dry foods, nuts, apple tea, caviar, or spices I recommend Has Ilgaz Spices Shop, Osman Celik or the manager Sadikoglu Kuruyemis can help you. They do have a tendency to suggest add-ons some of which we went with. Osman introduced us to his friend who runs a shop down the street: Damas, fine jewelry by Fadi. There were two muslim women who were buying scarves. Without speaking more than a few words of Turkish, we were able to communicate somewhat about the quailty of the scarves made by Shahtoosh. Shahtooh is literally beard of the shah. The idea being that the scarf is made from the daily cuttings from the Shah’s beard. The scarves are wool, but literally the finest textured wool I have ever run across my fingers.

The reason we never got near the spice bazaar: Osman and Fadi. Osman spoke fair english and Fadi was learning from Osman. These guys were fun and their products are top quailty.

Elias who is a rug dealer works with Fadi. Elias wanted to show us some old original Turkish rugs in “extraordinary fine condition”. I’m sure he has a number of very high quality persian rugs made long before the art died out. Today most Persian rugs are made by machine in China. We avoided temptation and did not look at Elias’ rug collection and it’s probably a good thing too.

Ellen asked Fadi how to get to the Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet Cami, and we retraced our steps to the blue line tram that crosses the Galata Korprusu Bridge and took it to Sultanahmet Cami, three stops away. The transformation going from Beyoglu to Sultanahmet is like moving from hell to heaven. Not that Beyoglu is hell, it is comfortable, exciting, and safe. The huge expanse of open space and the massiveness of the mosque and of Topkapi palace next door is a reminder of the grandure of the Ottoman Empire. The Blue Mosque is still in use today.

There are a number of strict rules that must be followed prior to entry into the mosque. These rules are strictly enforced: No hats can be worn. Shoulders must be covered and hair must be covered. Shorts must be covered. Guys wearing shorts were given blue wraps to cover themselves. No shoes can be worn in the mosque. We both took our shoes off and carried them in a bag with us. I removed my socks too. I”m glad I did, the mosque’s rug felt great underfoot.

Ellen had the foresight to take a scarf and minus my shoes, I was in good shape too. The mosque is massive. If memory serves, it is much larger than Notre Dame, which is the largest church/cathedral I have ever walked into. I’m told the largest cathedral is in Africa, the Gold Coast i think. We will post today’s pictures which include shots from the blue mosque. Ellen thinks St.Peter’s Basilica, is in the running for the largest.

We were quite hungry at this point and the sun was heating thnigs up. We headed back toward the tram station where we had seen street side cafes. Off the street there are a few shaded cafes. We made a bee line for one, a barker try to lure us into a very bright and very hot looking table for two nearby, but we held out for Lokum Cafe. We settled into a table under an awning overlooking a park like environment. The shade was all we needed to relax, and we both agreed the food was truely an experience. Prices go up the closer you get to tourist traps and this was no exception. This meal was well worth it. Lokum means Turkish Delight and it was. I very highly recommend the appetizer sampler and the chicken caserole. Our waiter recommended the chicken caserole for Ellen. This is the best Turkish meal we have had to date.

Headed back we took the blue line close to the bridge and walked. There was a rally for one of the candidates for Turkish prime minster on the bridge and on the water. There were probaly 300 people on the bridge carrying red and white signs and flags, a truck with a speaker system blaring and a boat that came close to the rally point with a guy at a loud speaker touting the quailties of his candidate. I confiscated one of the flags and will read about the candidates if/when I have time. We loitered with the rally for maybe twenty minutes. Getting from the bridge to the tunnel was no problem and we were home pretty quickly.

Our neighborhood looks a bit brighter today. The AC in the apartment works quite well and we’re happy taking a (rather late) siesta.

The muslim people we interacted with today were warm, caring, and friendly.

Istanbul grows on a person little by little.


Istanbul day 2, morning

Last night we asked ourselves, “where do the wealthy live in Istanbul”. Beyoglu is by no means upscale, it’s more a ramshackle collection of old buildings in various states of disrepair. We’ll venture into the old city again this morning and hopefully pick up a walking tour (assuming we can find the streets by name). Targeted: the spice bazaar, Topkapi Palace, and Blue Mosque.

But I’m really curious about the uber wealthy in Istanbul. Here’s what I found on trip advisor. It looks like we will not be seeing how the rich and famous (well rich) live in Turkey. It’s not that I want to oogle the wealthy, rather it’s that living in what is considered the “nicer” section of Istanbul and finding it visually unappealing. I’m enjoying the people (warm and friendly), the food (great spices, lots of vegetables, well prepared meats), and the climate (cool to warm, with moderate humidity), but why is it not better maintained and where are properties better maintained.

From Trip Advisor:

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Where do Istanbul’s wealthy live?
Dec 22, 2014, 1:06 AM
I know that this is a rich city in a rich country. I can see the wealth at the Istanbul Modern, at SALT, when chauffeured cars disgorge fur coats at an event. But, where do they live.


Re: Where do Istanbul’s wealthy live?
Dec 22, 2014, 1:25 AM
You need to go up the Bosphorus to villages like Bebek,Yeniköy and Tarabya to see the über smart set 🙂 But be aware you may not be able to see much from the road as the big houses are mostly in high walled gardens and compounds.

The easiest way is to take a ferry up the Bosphorus from where on can see these huge,glamorous water side mansions,the old yali’s. When selling they usually change hands for several million dollars……


2. Re: Where do Istanbul’s wealthy live?
Dec 22, 2014, 1:51 AM
10027, the touristic places that visitors mostly visit are not the where the rich people of Istanbul live. The richest of the rich live at Yali’s all along the Bosphorus. ““. The price range on those yalis range from 10 to 100 million dollars. However those yali owners also have winter residences at those skyscrapers that dot the skyline of the city. If you drive through the hills of Bosphorus, you will see these gorgeous mansions. Mostly they are secured gate communities. Have a look at Beykoz Konaklari and Acarkent Villas. ““. The other neighborhoods are 4th Levent, Rumelihisari hills, Bebek Hills, Tarabya, Istinye Hills, Sariyer Gated Communities, etc.

Can someone direct me to Istanbul’s poshest neighborhood neighborhood, where I can gawk at the lifestyles of the rich and, well, the rich, the way I might in Beverly Hills or Knightsbridge.

It’s just that Taksim and Istakil, while they do have upscale features like SALT and Shake Shack, are so shabby. (all cities have gentrifying and also shopworn districts, it is easy to see the places where gentrification is happening,) but I don’t want to leave without taking in an impression of the world-class posh and glitz that I know has to be here somewhere.

Headed out the door, no spell check soooooory.