Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Gu"naydin Istanbul (Day I in Constantinople)

5:50 am
There it is again. The drone of the muezzin's voice calling the faithful to prayer.  I already liked that voice in Phnom Penh, but it is so much louder here in Istanbul.

I'd change that view and noise background for the one in Vancouver anytime.  Did I mention that I only pay half per night of what I would pay in Vancouver? LOL.
6:30 am
I head down the 150 meters to Metro Bridge so Mr. Bun-Man.One thing I notice along the way is that the streets of Istanbul are CLEAN. Not the usual arrangement of Starbucks cups, McDonalds wrappers, and other trash decorating sidewalks, curbs, and green areas like for example in Canada and Germany.  They still have people sweeping the streets here. Memories of Hanoi !
Alas, Mr. Bun-Man of last June is no longer there. The owner and the cart are different, but no less cordial.  In the beginning he is still wary of the foreigner. When he addresses me in Turkish I have to  admit that I don't speak that language.  I hand over my 5 Turkish Lira and let my finger swoop over the arrangements of baked goods in his cart,  But when I try my Tesekku"r in response to him handing me a full paper bag of goodies, a huge grin appears on his face, he repeats the word, and places a hand on his heart.  There was a reason why I wanted to come back here ;-)
7 am
Now that I'm here, I'm not actually sure what I'm going to do.  Sounds horrible, eh?   NOPE.  I'm somewhere where just looking out the window reinforces the grin on my face.   So far I haven't discovered too many of those places. Hong Kong, St Malo, Hanoi, Sligo, Phnom Penh, and now Istanbul.  I don't HAVE to do anything here, I'm just happy being here, LOL.

8 am
The city in front of my window is changing colours constantly. Amazing.  Should I see some Whirling Devishes tonight?  My slight hesitation when learning that it is not allowed to take photographs makes me question my motives for wanting to go there in the first place.  Take a cruise on the Bosphorus?  Visit the Grand Bazaar again?  The Blue Mosque?  The latter is a definite MUST on my list, but that can also wait for tomorrow.  Right now I'm just SO COMFY in this tiny room with a bed and a kitchenette overlooking the Golden Horn.

8:30 am
It's amazingly comfy laying in my bed with a view of the city slowly being drenched by sun.   It is COLD out there (about 5 C right now) but I no longer mind after I look at Vancouver's forecast.  POURING RAIN ...... AGAIN !

I fall asleep again !

10:30 am
OK, time to get out there.  I already did sink-laundry and placed it on the veranda to freeze-dry.  I'll just head towards the Blue Mosque and see where chance delivers me.

On Galata Bridge, I reaffirm the lesson learned in Hanoi. If any local wants to do ANYTHING to your shoes, either MAKE SURE you agree on a price beforehand or walk away QUICKLY.  People who do footwork are CUNNING.
A shoe polisher drops his brush while walking over the bridge (In retrospect I suspect that this may be the SECRET to his business ;-).  I shout out at him so he can pick it up.  One thing leads to another "You are a gentle man"  Which gullible humanist can resist that one?  "Let me do your shoes!"  After hearing about his 3 hungry children in Ankara for 5 minutes, I offer to pay him (NO, he never said that this was a courtesy shoe shine).  Without blushing he says 90 Turkish Lira (YES, that is 25 US$, LOL).  That is the moment where I recognize that this man is identical to the sandal fixer in Hanoi.
Happy shoes !
Most tourists would just pay, but I know this game by now.  On the other hand, my 30 year old REAL leather work boots really benefited from the grease he applied liberally to the dried-out leather.. So I give him half of the demanded price.  After balking at it for a minute, he smiles and shakes my hand. YES, an EXACT copy of the Hanoi Sandal Man, LOL.
The important thing here is: NO, do NOT pay the outrageous first demand. The locals will just think you're an idiot and will demand even more from the next victim.  YES, BE CIVIL. These people are just trying to make a buck (or 25, LOL).  YES, DO laugh about it.  Nothing justifies going back to your home country and telling everyone how the locals ripped you off horribly.  And YES, shake the man's hand and smile when you pay him. If you can't do that,then you DESERVE to be treated like a dumb tourist !

After I finally find a way to cross that bloody and busy road, I drift aimlessly into a market street. For sale is EVERYTHING. 

 It doesn't take 3 minutes until I can cross the first item off my shopping list: Nail Clippers (Is it the German food that makes them grow more than twice as fast? LOL).

At some point I feel exhausted and hungry and not really any longer to visit a Grand Mosque right now.  And last night's restaurant is just around the corner ;-)

Amazing Mackerel !

Two glasses of wine later, I stumble back home and hit the bed for a very early nap!

I veg out until the afternoon. NOW is the time to get up and do something: Let's go buy some wine ;-)

One of the about 30,000 much-loved stray cats in Istanbul.
Those cats ARE much loved here.  I watched a young Turk laughingly give the evil eye to and chase off a small dog that was running after a cat.  A city of cat people. I am home, LOL !

Last time I was here, Zu and I tried to find a supermarket but failed (we headed into the right general direction though).  

I find the M Jet supermarket. I buy Chilean Chardonnay instead of the Turkish Angora White just because the Chilean wine has a twist off  cap.


There is NOTHING LIKE standing in the afternoon sun on a balcony with a view of at least 6 mosques and hearing the Muezzin's LOUD voice calling to prayer.  Blogger's video renditions still SUCK, so here is the Link to the YouTube Video ;-)

If you liked the sound of that video, LISTEN TO THIS ;-)


The WEIRDEST thing just happened. I'm listening various Azaans on YouTube and there is a knock on the door.  It's the hotel man telling me that I can store the day-blanket and the decorative pillows under the bed instead of on the nightstand. I'm on the 5th floor and he saw the day blanket through the window from outside.  To say that I feel WEIRD with the Azaan blaring from my computer while this Turkish man enters my room is the UNDERstatement of the century, LOL.


Time to leave the hotel for a half-hour foot march. I have an appointment with some Dancing Men.  I decided to walk the entire route. Google Maps says it will take me about 30 minutes.  And that's 30 minutes well spent.  The pictures speak for themselves:

NO, NOT pigeons.  These are SEAGULLS (Gotta LOVE this city ;-)

I've arrived at Hodjapasha Cultural Centre. 

This is where the Dervishes will Whirl ;-)  I am shocked at the attendance.
There is a dervish !  Oh, actually it's just wax figure that Mme Tussaud could be proud of. People keep touching his nose to make sure that he is not real, LOL.
  I only bought the ticket online earlier today and the performance is SOLD OUT.

WOW. Given that I just witnessed a 'spiritual' event, I obeyed the rule of NO PHOTOGRAPHY.  So you have to go yourself if you want to see spinning men in long white dresses (or check on Youtube ;-).  And believe me. It's WORTH IT. YES, this show is arranged for tourists.  But it is still hauntingly beautiful. And that's coming from a cynic, LOL.


I'm back in that restaurant for the 3rd time. And the staff already know that I'm drinking white wine.  The Raki will have to wait until tomorrow.
I eat my meal and now the waiters say good bye with a handshake.  Nowhere and never have I become a regular in a restaurant more quickly.  That says something about the culture.

10 pm.   

Looking back over the last 10 days, I think I can say that I've taken Dylan Thomas by heart.

Old age should burn and rave at close of day.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right
because their words had forked no lightning, they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

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