Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ayran Was A Bad Choice

So we left off after our trip to Gezi and that was a blast and a half. Or mostly a total non event. I try not to make hanging around hippies the highlight of my day.

After Brock and I checked out Gezi we headed back to the Faith district of Istanbul and visited the Basilica Cistern. It was awesome.

Reasons it was awesome: 
1. It was not crowded. Because, phew, I could do with a few less crowds every now and again.
And 2. It was cool. And dark. 

If you've never been to a cistern before, don't worry. This was my first time too. 
Essentially it's an underground, water hole. Or something.
It's where the water is kept until a king needs it. I think I read that somewhere.

Here's Medusa's head!
Honestly, I have no clue how this all works, or whether it's still used or when it stopped being used or how you summon the water from the hole to whatever you need to use the water for. 
But it was actually very cool to see and definitely something I would recommend. Though maybe do more research than I did, k?

After the Cistern, Brock and I sat in a park, ate ice cream while trying to coerce cats into letting us pet them. No takers. 
Then we parted ways. 
I went to a Turkish bath and he went to the Archeological Museum.

I obviously made the wrong choice. Because while I was scrubbed down so hard by a stranger that I expected to see blood and became confident that I would never again grow leg hair, Brock was checking out this pretty stuff.

He also said there was a cat hospital. Where all the park kittens are born. WTF?! 
I got lost and sand papered and he saw kittens?!

We met back up at the apartment, made a quick pasta and crashed. Getting water assaulted made me tired.

Yesterday we went back to the spice market to pick up all you fine people reading some gifts. 
In advance, your welcome Mum and Betty. Because I assume you two are the only people reading this.

I won't give anything away with pictures so instead, here are photos of the outside of the spice market where they sell budgies, dog food and plants. Not sure on their method of grouping objects but that's how they roll at the spice market.

Also: KITTENS!!! 
This fatso above knows whats up and his smartly positioned himself directly underneath the bulk cat food. He is the fattest cat I saw the entire time I was here. 

And this little guy was the cutest thing ever. 
Right by our apartment is the sweetest litter of kittens in an abandoned building and I'm trying desperately to smuggle them all back in my luggage. But I know I'll never be stealth enough to get them on the plane because I cannot stop wanting to hug them. 

This is a giant mound of Turkish Delight. They should call it Turkish Alright. Because, it's alright. But there is definitely better candy out there.

Yesterday did not stop being eventful. We walked around the bridge, the water, checked out the fisherman.

Then we hit up a falafel place near Taksim Square for dinner. Here Brock gives Ayran a shot.
Ayran is a Turkish drink that is water, yogurt and salt. Go figure that he didn't enjoy that.
Brock would like me to convey that on a hot day, Ayran is a bad choice.

Falafels are always a good choice.

Then they started lighting off flares in Taksim Square.

And then this guy smelled like pee and started singing along to the prayer calls. That's when we called it a night.


We woke up super late. We hit up a nearby cafe for drinks and beers after breakfast and I had a delightful Turkish coffee and cheese cake. Don't judge. It was close to 3pm. 

Then we walked around, shopped for offensive magnets and returned to the same cafe for dinner.

Next time I complain about how expensive booze is here, remind me that one drink is the equivalent of 3-4 shots at home.

See you tomorrow Canada! I miss my bed, my dog and the ease of which I can exist being vegetarian.

Inside Gezi Park.

The other day before we ventured off to be tourists we decided to enter Gezi Park which is the center of the demonstrations in Taksim Square... the one thing Istanbul lacks in green space and one of the major issues with the protesters is the demolition of Gezi Park along with being able to kiss in public, drink alcohol after 10:00pm and dress how you wish... many people refuse to leave until their demands are met or Recep Tayypid Erdogan (the Prime Minister of Turkey) steps down. Here are some photos from the middle of the
(not so scary) action:

 Above is a flipped over burnt out police car... feels a little like home... remember the G20?

The media are everywhere in Gezi... I was doing a lot of photo bombing with my Toronto Blue Jays hat on and wonder if anyone noticed me on the news? They always choose the most dramatic background... like this burnt out construction trailer... oh the FEAR!

This guy above strolled of this burnt out police van holding a live dove and yelling something in Turkish... I thought he was going to pull an Ozzie and bite the birds head off... but no such luck.

The wonderful guy we're renting the apartment from told us last night he was starting to get cancellations from people in the US... and coming from a large white guy in the middle of the action... you shouldn't be afraid to visit Istanbul... we've had a really safe and amazing time here... the protests are only in Taksim Square and if anything Gezi has made our trip more exciting and memorable... so come to Istanbul be a tourist in the old part of the city and walk around Gezi Park and be apart of history...
there's no better time to visit Turkey!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cultural Insensitivity

Yesterday we started off at an art gallery, the Pera Museum. A short walk from where we're staying it's five floors, but quite small. The top two floors featured a Spanish artist Manolo Valdes. 

I wasn't terribly interested in his work but he had some prints that were nice to look at and this wonky bookshelf that I forced Brock to stand infront of for a photo op.

The lower floors were dedicated to 17th - 19th century Turkish artists and were beautiful. But more than anything, I enjoyed the lay out of the building, the rich colours in the works and displays and the winding stair case down. And that it was small. Seriously, art galleries can draaaaaaaaggggg.

We followed that with a stop at a cheese store, a quick lunch and then headed over to the Faith district of Istanbul. Because Brock and I are nothing if not full of faith. Or tourists. Check out the Blue Mosque again!

We hit up the Hagia Sofia as our unbelievably kind host had dropped off tickets for us so we could skip the line. I know it's supposed to be an architectural marvel, but holy hell, BORING. 

The church converted to mosque converted to museum (it's a stretch to call it that) was covered in scaffolding inside. So perhaps it's seen better days... and to be fair, from the entrance, if you only looked up, it was quite beautiful. But we came for a museum! And all we got were wiki-pages blown up and printed on cardboard that people were standing in front of taking photos of. I could have stayed inside, saved the $30 for us to get in and taken our picture on photo booth. If you're planning a trip to Istanbul, save yourself the trip.

Oh well. We made up for lost time by stopping in a rug shop. Remember when I said Brock couldn't bargain? He redeemed himself. I won't tell you the name that he was called by the salesmen but I'll just say that it was culturally insensitive.

Next time you're by our place, look down. Then at the couch. We have some fun new additions.

Then we smoked a hookah pipe.
I don't know if you know this... but there is tabacco in those things!
I had tried one years ago in Germany and was told it was apple flavoured. I must have Bill Clinton'd it and not inhaled because I never knew there was actual tabacco in them. Just thought it was like smoking candy. Yeah... it's apple flavoured tabacco. I got a headache.

I was not really keen on trying on in the first place because of all that Rihanna-herpes controversy but they give you these cool disposable nibs so you don't have to share mouth germs with strangers. Woot woot! Sanitary!

PS. Apple tea is the shit.

So after all that excitement we worked up a mega appetite and found the best vegetarian option in the city. Klemuri is close to where we're staying, offering local food and a contemporary take on traditional Turkish dishes. 

I don't even think I looked up once the food arrived. I literally inhaled it. There haven't been this many veggies in my diet since I arrived and I was so happy to know that I could eat all of it without wondering if there was secret meat in it!

But don't ask me to tell you what it was. The above dish on the left was fried cheese with some green stuff. To the right is hummus, olives and some other stuff.

And above this is potatoes, chard, some other stuff, topped with yogurt.

We finished the evening with a Turkish coffee. This is the remnants of the black sludge left over. Hopefully Brock learnt his lesson about ending the day with the world's strongest coffee.