Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Istanbul part 2.

It's straight back into work for me, and I have to use my instagram feed to jog my memory.

I discussed Gallipoli. I think that will stay will me. It was well worth the long day to go.

We stayed in the area of Karakoy in Istanbul. It is a short walk across the Galata bridge from the Main Tourist Area, Sultanahmet, and down the hill from Taksim. It has an edgy vibe, much like Fitzroy. There are lots of cool little restaurants and bars around, that the locals frequent.

I also went and visited an Hamam - a Turkish Bath house. The Hamam ritual is one of Ablution, which is quite important in Islamic culture. If you are in Istanbul, I recommend Kilic Pasha Ali Hamam, it is next to a Mosque in Karakoy, and it is less crowded and touristy than the main ones in SultanAhmet. It is in one of those domed buildings, which was built in the 1590s. You get taken out from the reception area into a large domed room, wearing nothing but a bikini bottom and a Turkish towel. In the middle of the steamy domed room is a large hexagonal slab. You are splashed with warm water by a hamam lady. She gets you to lie on the slab and sweat for a bit. Hamam lady then gives you some iced water. You are then instructed to sit on a marble stool, and then scrubbed down with a loofah (OMG the dead skin) and then lathered up and washed off, then your hair is washed. They then dry you off, and then you are wrapped in the turkish towel and a head towel, and you lounge about on a divan outside until you can relax no more. Then you get dressed and toddle off. It is quite relaxing once you get over the idea of a stranger seeing you half-naked and scrubbing at you. I've been in an onsen in Japan so I have gotten over it.

We did the usual rotation of Istanbul museums. Aya Sofia has variously been a Christian church and a Mosque, and has relics of both. The Blue Mosque has lots of blue tiles in it, and has 6 minarets, which is a lot. Topkapi palace is kind of like Turkey's crown jewels, and was very crowded and I dislike crowds (go early in the morning). The Grand Bazaar is very big and the likelihood that the stallholders will harrass you is inversely proportional to how interested you are in the goods; indeed, if you are wanting what they are selling, they will barely acknowledge you. The stalls are carpets, scarves, knock off handbags and shoes, and jewellery. The spice bazaar is smaller and more manageable, and is more food focussed.

If you are wanting to shop in Istanbul, I would avoid both of these, as the prices are inflated. The far better shopping, I found, was around Taksim and in the little side streets up the hill (beware, the hill is steep, but don't let that stop you). They have quirky little boutique shops with interesting things, at reasonable prices. I bought a beautiful pair of Sterling silver earrings which were handmade by a Turkish/Syrian family from one of the little shops, I will post a pic when I wear them.

Enough about shopping, to my other favourite thing, food. The food! I love Turkish Food!

But that is for the next post. It is Offspring time....

1 comment:

  1. So interesting Cilla! My in-laws went to the Bosphorus a year or so ago and loved it. So much interesting history, I can't wait to go (one day…..). You're lucky you got to keep bikini bottoms on though - I've heard of Turkish Hamam where you don't get to wear anything. Not for the faint hearted, or uninitiated either. Looking forward to the food post xx