|Richard & Stacy's Round the World Trip 2001|
Wednesday, May 23, 2001.
How fitting that the thirteenth day of our trip would be the one where the trip finally caught up with us. Need more clichés? How about "It was the seventh day of our visit to Turkey, and since it was good enough for God, its good enough for us - we were ready for a rest."
Last night's party after midnight, combined with too much sun, food, drink and fun as finally worn us out. Stacy woke up before the muezzins, needing water... then came back to bed for awhile. We managed to get up for breakfast, but then retreated back to the room for a rest til the afternoon.
Finally we got motivated to do something - we had to get a new piece of luggage to transport all the goodies we'd bought. So we headed out of the hotel toward the Arasta Bazaar at the Blue Mosque. We weren't very willing, facing aggressive street merchants after such a dozey morning didn't seem like a fun thing to do. As we approached the bazaar, Stacy pointed out a sign near the entrance way - the Mosaics Museum. We decided we'd rather look at mosaics first.
Much to our chagrin (that we had almost passed it by), the Mosaics Museum was fabulous! The mosaics date back to early Byzantine times, and had been rescued from ruins of the old palaces before the Ottomans took over Constantinople. Only a relatively small amount of the mosaics remain - there were once whole buildings with this amazing art form used as flooring.
It only took about an hour to explore the entire museum, then we were rejuvenated enough to tackle shopping in Istanbul. We walked through the bazaar looking for luggage, and found it at the last shop in the line (figures).
In a few minutes we had located a decent size piece of rolling luggage for all our Turkish acquisitions along with a few other goodies (wouldn't want to give away what presents we bought). Feeling much better (and having accomplished our primary goal for the day), we stopped back at the hotel and dropped off our latest items, then headed down toward the farmers market we had been told was set up on Wednesdays nearby.
While in the market a gentlemen walked up to us and said in crisp English "Shame on you for only taking photographs - you need to taste!" A bold and not typical opening for a street merchant, it turns out that Faruk was not a street merchant at all, but an import/export specialist for Kilims. His perfect English comes from dealing with Americans on a regular basis. We sat down in his store to talk the politics and culture of Turkey and traded contact information. A very interesting and articulate fellow (and we're not just saying that because he'll likely see this page!).
Our wander through the market was rejuvenating and since it was our last day in Istanbul, we decided we would finally give in and do a little shopping at a carpet store. During the week we had been invited into innumerable store, and had even been given "demonstrations" in a few. The one that made us most comfortable was Kanen's shop in the Arasta Bazaar, just across from the hotel. So much to the surprise of Kanen, we dropped in and did a little shopping there too.
And no, we're not going to tell you what we bought - that'll be another surprise when we return home. Our new acquaintance Faruk had given us a name of a restaurant he frequents in the Taksim area of Istanbul - one area we still hadn't explored. When we got back to the hotel we made reservations, and then a short while later grabbed a taxi to Taksim.
Taksim is another local shopping district, focus around Taksim square. The drive took awhile, but the area was swarming with locals and in-the-know tourists, it had a similar feel to Robson Street in Vancouver. We wandered the streets for awhile until we found the restaurant.
The meal was quite pleasant - our server brought us to the kitchen to look at the food that was prepared, so we could pick face-to-face, so to speak. We tried a selection of appetizers and entrees, ordering entirely too much food. We ate what we could, and then waddled out of the restaurant quite content. After a short walk back to Taksim Square we were able to flag a taxi and return to the hotel
Full, and knowing we had plenty of time the next morning, we skipped packing that night and went to bed. The next morning we would leave Turkey.