March 20, 2013
The promise of better weather was only partially fulfilled today. It was a little warmer, but the cloud cover did not dissipate until late afternoon. It was very pleasant when the sun was out but the least bit chilly when it was hiding.
The buffet (they write “bufe”) at the hotel was good with lots of choices—most of which I will never try—so we had a leisurely start to the day.
Today was the first day of Spring. I don’t know if it was related, but there were herds/gaggles/groups of local schoolchildren being led by adults nearly everyplace we went. They ranged from grade school to perhaps high school. One of the groups of perhaps 30 younger children went by with each one eating an ear of corn. [Corn is roasted on many of the streets.] We went by another group where first there was one “hello” and then another and then many. They laughed when we tried to keep up by hello-ing back. We
walked through the grounds of the Topkapi Palace—it was nice to feel like we knew what we were doing—and it seemed like many of the visitors there were locals rather than foreign tourists like us. I’ll have to do some research to see if the equinox is a local celebration.
After dithering about which way to go, we headed down to the Misir Market (Spice Market) and spent some time there fending off the shopkeepers. I think their patter is expected and is part of the entertainment. Patricia visited many of the shops/stalls there but, much to my surprise, did not buy anything. In the Spice Market the majority of people also seemed more local than foreign. I was wearing my Borsolino hat and I heard for the first, but not last time, today: Hey, Mr. Indiana Jones, come to my store.
When we left the market I decided that we would try a new way back rather than retrace our steps. It was a good choice. I have mentioned in the past that there are distinct districts here where most of the shops sell related things. Today we found the textile/fabric/clothes district. As far as I could tell, the vast majority of people there were actually shopping and were not tourists.
It was very crowded and the streets were full of people. There were stores that specialized in different kinds of fabrics and different kinds of clothes. There were shops that sold only one kind of shoes and only for one gender. There were shops that had party dresses for young girls and shops that had only what looked like wedding dresses. We went past shops that specialized variations of a single pattern in their fabrics. There was almost no tourist junk. We walked along street after street of shops that were full of color and activity.
We skirted the edge of the covered bazaar (the Grand Bazaar) and found a completely different shopping area. We were now in a very upscale area where the dress of the people was markedly different from the fabric area. The prices of the goods were different too. It was interesting but very different.
I just realized that in both of those areas, unlike the Misir Market, there were no shills outside the stores beckoning/enticing us to come in.
We headed down the main street of the Sultanhamet district and decided to find someplace to have some lunch. [People-watching generates an appetite, apparently.] Now there are approximately 8,000 restaurants in in a four block area and most of them serve variations of the same menu. Nevertheless, one of us wanted to check each and every menu—sometimes twice—to be sure we found the one, perfect, place to have lunch. That approach must have worked because we had a nice outdoor lunch. We were across from what we think was a girl’s school. You know the sound that you hear when you are standing next to a roller coaster with the kids screaming? That’s the sound that came from inside the school. Whatever they were learning, it must have been exciting.
After an afternoon of more walking and widow shopping we had a fairly early dinner. We went back to the restaurant where we ate last night. Patricia wanted to try the lamb chops. I tried a new Turkish food called pide. Pide is related (3rd cousin?) to pizza. It wasn’t bad, but it will not be something I will order again. The lentil soup at “Med Cezir” is really good.
Now it is time to finish this report and do our re-packing so we can travel to Izmir tomorrow to meet up with the rest of the SAR tour.
p.s. As usual, more pictures on the Pictures page