Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hoşҫakal Istanbul

By Claire
Day 3
Goodbye Istanbul. We will go through a little grief process tomorrow when we cross the border into Greece. It's been difficult to leave every country we have visited, but Turkey is something special.

I want to add to Chuck's story about our visit at our favorite restaurant last night and the conversation he had with the two deaf men. It just blew me away watching him communicate with those guys. Even I was able to follow the conversation. I was very touched when he signed "sad" to them (forefingers simulating tears running down his face) that we were there for the last time. This was such a communal moment with everyone in the place involved. I will never forget it.

Today we decided to meander and just enjoy the city. We stopped at a photo place and had the picture of our tailor printed out so we could give him a copy. Quick, cheap and easy. We decided to head back to the Arasta Bazaar (thanks Diane) and loved the ease of walking by the shops without being harassed. We found wonderful carpets to look at, gorgeous tiles from Iznik and so many things I would love to buy and cart home. If only I had brought a tiny portion of what I did....

Park near the Blue Mosque

We stopped for tea and just marveled at how relaxed we were and how wonderful this custom is—so calming and lovely. Walking home a different way, we found ourselves once again by Little Hagia Sophia. We can see it from our hotel balcony.

We grabbed a couple of sesame rings for lunch and added Medjool dates to make a perfect lunch picnic. After a short rest, Chuck tried on his gallabiya for altering and we set off once again for our friendly tailor, Duran Yildiz. We gave him the picture—he was delighted and asked for Chuck's name and address. Then he set to work customizing the gallabiya's sleeves and hem length. Next, he completely re-sewed my backpack, reinforcing every seam. Coffee was served and friendly conversation ensued, all in Turkish and English. We kind of figured it out. At the end, he refused payment, shook our hands, touched his heart and sent us on our way.

We had dinner plans with Heather, the woman who told me about Petra at night via email. Meanwhile, I am sick of Chuck's faded out, baggy jeans and suggested we try to find another pair. The prices are so good here we decided to go for it. We tried various stores and finally settled on one of the shops at the Grand Bazaar. Chuck tried them on and they were good but too long. The guy offered to have them hemmed on the spot and to give us a good price. The good price was 65 TL. I told him no, 30. He pointed out that he was eating the 10 TL to have the pants hemmed. We went around and around--55 then 45 then I eventually came up to 35 and the deal was done. In the meantime, he grabbed someone and told me he had been to California. That was Adil. He had gone to San Diego State and loved California. He told me he visited San Francisco. I asked him how he liked it. "Too many gay people." I asked if he'd been to the Castro and he said "No, I'm too afraid." In spite of this, he was very likable and seemed more puzzled by the whole gay issue. He and the salesman, Sedat, both wanted their pictures taken. We all had a good time. I will really miss this kind of interaction.

Adil and Sedat

We met Heather at Starbucks, a few blocks down from where we bought the jeans. It felt a little like an online date but there she was, looking just like her picture. We chatted for awhile then headed over to Taksim, the new area on the Asia side of Istanbul. She had suggested a place that specializes in mezes, small portions of appetizers. We hadn't tried a place like this so I was really looking forward to it.

Pick what you want from the selection

Dinner and conversation was fun and interesting. I think we talked about everything. Heather has lived in Turkey with her husband for 2.5 years; it was nice to get an American's perspective of this country. She's lucky, she has a house overlooking the Bosphorus.

Chuck ordered pumpkin in syrup for dessert. It tasted like yams to me and he really liked it.

Heading for the funicular at 11:15, we found that it was no longer running. Oops. Heather took charge and got us on a bus after talking to some kind of bus official and then two women who all assured her that the tram was still running. We just needed to figure out which bus would get us there. She used her pass to get all of us on the bus since it doesn't take tokens. We waved goodbye from either side of the tram station. Thanks Heather!

We've been so lucky with the weather. Rain was predicted for the entire week but we've only had a few sprinkles and mostly blue sky and clouds. I hope it lasts as we make our way to the Customs Warehouse tomorrow morning.

By the way, have I mentioned that I LOVE MY LIFE!!??

Oh you painters who ask for a technique of color - study carpets and there you will find all knowledge. ~ Paul Gaugin—seen in a carpet shop window, Arasta Bazaar


Diane said...

Oooohhh . . . I'm loving that you went to Arasta Bazaar! Did you see the shop that has the ancient kitty sitting on a stack of carpets and ruling the roost? She's probably passed on to Kitty Heaven by now. One afternoon, I was on my own (David napping at the hotel) and wandered into a little shop and had a half hour conversation with a wonderful young man (family owned the shop). He was a law student in Cyprus--we had a wonderful conversation about politics, culture, etc. (it was right before the 2008 election). He asked me to return with David so we could have tea. On our return trip to Istanbul, we bought our beautiful Turkish kilm at the Arasta Bazaar--no hassle or pressure, very inexpensive and we love it. You have totally reaffirmed for me that Turkey is a very special place--I wish everyone I know could go there and I will definitely return.

Pat in Santa Cruz said...

In answer to your fact I think we ALL love your life!!
Good wishes for the Customs Warehouse.
p.s. I loved your "not without my husband" stance on your plane trip!