After a fairly hectic couple of days in Cappadocia we caught our flight back to Istanbul. We'd be staying one night then heading onward to Athens and Crete. By this time we had the metro and tram system pretty much down pat and made it to Sulthanmet Park and got out and made our way to the Hotel Djem, which is located across the park and the Hippodrome on the opposite side from our previous hotel. We enjoyed this hotel so much that we decided to make it our base for the rest of our time in Istanbul. Walking out into the street, you can see the back of the Blue Mosque rising into the air....there's something so exotic and exciting about Istanbul.
When we arrived the first thing the manager did was offer us tea while he checked on our reservation. The moment he found our reservation he told us to have some breakfast....and typical of Turkey, it was quite a spread.
There was a little guy who worked the breakfast buffet who was constantly in motion....he seemed to always be on a mission of sorts. Watching him work kept us entertained during our breakfasts.
We loved the gentleman who managed the place...when he found out we'd be leaving early the next morning, before breakfast service, he asked, well more like told us that we'd need something to eat...so they would have something ready for us if we wanted. We told him yogurt and some fruit would be perfectly fine....you gotta love Turkey!
While the Missus was freshening up, I asked the young man about cruises on the Bosphorus.......and really appreciated his honest advice. "You just arrived today and are perhaps a bit tired. Personally, I would just take one of the more inexpensive two hour cruises, the all day ones are a bit long......and after a while, all the buildings will start looking the same. You will stop enjoying it." We took his advice...... He would be our best source during our stays in Istanbul.
We caught the tram down to Eminonu as it started to drizzle and looked over a couple of the cruises near the Galata Bridge which I posted on before.
As we boarded it started raining a bit harder.....it was also fairly cold. The chestnut dude was doing great business though!
Here's what the regular ferryboats look like.
It turned out that two hours was just about the right amount of time for us. Here are some of the sights.
Üsküdar the Asian side of Istanbul.
The beautiful Ortaköy Mosque.
The gentleman at the hotel was right....by the time we hit Rumeli Hisari we had peaked and had our fill......though the cruise really highlighted how little we saw of Istanbul during our trip.
There was one thing that kept us form getting bored though....it was this lovely couple.....
Both were middle-aged. Neither sported wedding rings. The gentleman sported a very serious and conservative suit. The woman wore...well, I mostly remember her for the pointy tipped shoes like we saw in the souvenir shops. Both acted like teenagers in love. As the woman walked to the back of the cabin the gentleman trailed her filming her every move. In fact, he filmed just about every move she took. Once, I thought she had her fill and walked out of the cabin....but no, she was just stepping outside so she could do poses right out the window.....yep, you guessed it, just so the guy could film it! It almost seemed like something out of a comedy. It kept our attention for most of the return trip......it was sweet, cute, hilarious, and just plain bizarre all at the same time.
All along the area around the Galata Bridge are boats selling Balik Ekmek, the famous fish sandwich.
The boats have grills installed on them which already gets your attention, but many have eye-catching...well, almost gaudy design and ornamentation. Some of the hawkers even dress up in what I can only guess is Ottoman style garb...all the while yelling out "BAAaaaa-Liiiik". There's an area where several of the boats gather that have a fairly nice looking dining area set-up.
I walked on over and really didn't like the smell of the fish so I passed.
However, as we got off our boat, I noticed this little boat doing some serious business.
So I decided to try one....you can't beat the price, 2.5 TRY, about $1.25! This being Turkey, the sandwich had quite a bit of bread.
I made a mistake when I first got my sandwich; I had a taste of just the fish, undoubtedly mackerel,which tasted just plain fishy and off. Ick. However, when nestled in the bread, the pungency of the onions helped to cut the fishiness and oil. It tasted much better, but I didn't enjoy the aftertaste...it was not among my favorites from this trip. In fact, I'd take "fish curd" and even "fish poo" (fish preserved in it's own intestinal scrapings) that I had in Laos over this any day of the week.
As we walked to the underground crosswalk I saw the infamous mussel vendor. But after my Balik Ekmek I decided to pass.....
Whenever you're near the Galata Bridge, you can't help but notice the wonderful looking mosque across the street, next to the Spice Market.
The name of the mosque is Yeni Camii, "New Mosque", though it ain't that new being built in the 17th century.
In fact, the Spice Market was built as part of the mosque complex to create revenue for the mosque.
We had heard that the Mosque is quite beautiful and though we passed by several times it was suaully around one of the calls to prayer. We wanted to be respectful and not intrude...so perhaps next time.
There are women selling bird seed to feed the thousands of pigeons that flock around the mosque.
On one afternoon, we saw these men performing Wudu the sacred wash before prayers.
And perhaps a nap.......
Man, did we love this hotel.......