Friday, November 11, 2011

Istanbul Redux: The Grand Bazaar, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, Tea and Doughnuts

After the first week in Turkey, we left Istanbul for the Aegean coast and then Cappadocia. But we had to go back to Istanbul for a couple of days before leaving the country. On the return visit, we stopped by the Grand Bazaar, built in the 1450s.

The sellers weren't nearly as aggressive as I expected -- which was both relieving and a little disappointing.

We also went to the Istanbul Archeology Musuems. The highlights there are several giant sarcophagi dating from the late 4th century BC and discovered in Sidon, Lebanon. The most famous is called the Alexander Sarcophagus, which depicts Alexander fighting the Persians.

That's 4th century BC paint!

This one is the Sarcophagus of the Mourning Women. Look at their faces.

We visited Turkey during Ramadan, which we were worried would be odd or awkward but was actually totally awesome. Every evening, the Hippodrome would fill with families picnicking. There was a stage for musical acts and a little Ramadan bazaar with stalls selling food or arts and crafts. The atmosphere was like the 4th of July (including people selling light-up toys for kids) every night.

At the Ramadan bazaar, there was a stall which sold these honeyed doughnuts.

They look like those honey doughnuts you get at Indian restaurants (which I do not like), but instead of being soft and mealy (I'm sure fans of them probably describe them as 'gooey' and not mealy) they have a crunchy shell and in the inside has the texture of youtiao. We got them nearly every night.

And some random assortment of observations that might be helpful to tourists:

We didn't really have any language problems -- everywhere we went people had at least sufficient English for us to get by.

At restaurants, the waiters were generally friendly and nice and surprisingly flirty when Sean wasn't around.

People don't really drink Turkish coffee in Turkey. Instead, tea is the drink of choice -- anytime and all the time. When confronted with a set-up like this

the top pot contains concentrated tea and the bottom pot has hot water. Use the hot water to rinse your glass, then fill it 50% (maybe 30% is better) full of the concentrated tea. Fill to top with hot water. Add sugar to taste.

There are a lot of stray or semi-stray animals in Turkey. Not as many stray dogs as you might expect, and the ones I saw seemed docile if mangy. But all over Istanbul there were tons of cats and kittens. Waiters at outdoor cafes were constantly trying to shoo them away. They didn't look mangy or feral, so I suspect most of them had some person taking care of them at least occasionally.

Finally, and I don't think there's any way to say this without sounding condescending even though I don't mean it to be, but Turkey was way cleaner than I anticipated. Far cleaner than Taiwan, likely cleaner than the US, not quite German levels of clean. In particular, the public toilets were very clean and maintained and I only had to use a squat toilet once or twice during the whole trip.

By the way, this isn't the end of my Turkey blogging, I have more posts to come on the Aegean coast and Cappadocia.

1 comment:

grand bazaar said...

Everything soooo much you! My goodness!
Can not wait to to see what you DID NOT to walk away with ....

historic Grand bazaar here.