A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Ken L

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It's my favorite one! http://flora.benjicanningpereira.com/ken_lotze
Ken Lotze

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Re:

It's my favorite one! http://flora.benjicanningpereira.com/ken_lotze
Ken Lotze

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http://freemindthinking.com/lying.php

Ken Lotze

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Re:

http://freemindthinking.com/lying.php

Ken Lotze

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Re:

http://freemindthinking.com/lying.php

Ken Lotze

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My Photo Wall

Hi,

Check out my latest creation using Photo Wall for iPad. Find out more details at http://www.iAppStreet.com

Cheers,

Posted by Ken L 08:51 Comments (0)

Beyoglu by the book

or, uptown nights

semi-overcast 48 °F

We had looked up a club for jazz on Istanbul eats. It was over the other side - the new side. So we hopped the tram to the end of the line at Kabatas and then jumped into the funicular and rode up to Taksim square. It was dark, but it was crowded.
IMG_0992.jpgIMG_0573.jpg
A sea of humanity cascaded along the street. We went downhill with it, looking for for Balo caddesi. It was a sidestreet alley lined with clubs, outdoor tables, and youth with cigarettes. But in Istanbul the young with cigarettes are non threatening and there is also a fir share of older, less hip, even staid persons mingling in the night. I have never felt a threatening moment since being here. Never seen a drunk, never seen a sneer or a cold hard look of unfriendliness. Never encountered any macho type behavior, nor seen any obnoxious groups of any kind. I am on another planet.
I digress. Getting back to the night, we sat and had a beer at an outdoor table and watched the streetlife and listened to a guitar and singer from a club next store in a lower level.
Then we strolled some more. Found the throwback alley of white table cloths, waiters in white shirts and ties. Long rows of tables. People eating mezes (tapas). We went on through that and were into the fish market. Which even at this later hour was still going strong. Each fishmonger also had his own restaurant nearby and spoke at length about his fishes and dishes.
Indeed, all of Istanbul is one big restaurant, shop, store, stand selling kebaps, durums, spices, fish, shirts, cheese, candies, pastries, and anything and everything. There is the fresh bread, right next to the soap.
But you cannot eat and drink it all, even when you exit one place having eaten your dinner, the fellow next store will be at you with his spiel, his menu, as if you had just come into that street.
It can be a bit annoying.

We made it to the end of the street, took the other funicular down and out.
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Walking across the galata bridge at night in the cool wind is a joy. There are fishermen still out here. The hope of a good fish is just a dream away. We went back along our hotel street waving at the same people. We belonged just a little bit to this place now.
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Posted by Ken L 22:49 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Train to the fortress

Orient Express, the short ride

sunny 49 °F

A SUNNY day. Our first. Really nice to see the sparkling Bosphorus.
Did not go to the Princess Islands as originally planned. After reading some accounts of there and having ridden the boats repetitively yesterday in our Euro-Asia back and forth we decided to do something not involving boats.IMG_0707.jpg
So we went down to the Orient Express train station (sans gun per previous blog post) and bought our 1.5L ($1USD) token and took our short orient express several stops. The train ran along the sea below Topkapi palace and there were many remnants of the wall along the route. We went to a fortress that guarded the Marmara Sea end of the wall that stretched across the Golden Horn 1500 years ago. Not very touristy, but a nice site to behold.
Only 5L entrance and the freedom to climb up to the ramparts and walk along the battlements. Also to climb the stone steps into the tower. Good views all around, still sunny. Ships at anchor in the distance.IMG_0769.jpg
Otherwise in an old residential area. There was not even a restaurant. Best bet was to backtrack on the same train to our hotel area. Thus, we were back easily.
Then it was trip again through the spice marker.
The square outside the market facing the water was packed with people. The sun was still out and there were lots of photo ops.

We also ate some “wetburgers” today. They were not bad, a cross between a burger and barbeque on a regular bun. Ok, but not repeatable.

Tonight we are going to treat ourselves to a real sit down restaurant with a tablecloth. There is one just around the corner.

Here is a sunset over the cityIMG_0690.jpg

Posted by Ken L 22:28 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

An unplanned day

Just walking aimlessly

semi-overcast 47 °F

creatures from the deep

creatures from the deep

This was a day of minimal planning. We started out going to the Hagia Sohia. Now after being so long in the Topkapi Place yesterday I was not looking forward to this. However it seemed to be a shorter duration visit.
Inside I was very impressed when I found out that the entire Notre Dame cathedral could fit inside this place. Also that it was high enough inside to fit the Statue of Liberty. Wow!
Took lots of pictures and then my battery read low. That is 4 days and a lot of pictures on that battery. We were nearly down and we headed back to the hotel to recharge the battery. Since the electricity is not on in the room without the key placed in the slot, I left it charging at the front desk.
Off we went to buy some good luck evil eyes.
We bought a lamb domer (sandwich) and sat in the famous Sirkici railraod station, eastern terminal of the famed Orient Express (Paris-Istanbul) where travellers had, in the past, been advised to "carry a gun".
I see you can still take it from here to Budapest, Hungary.

Having recharged the batteries we headed over to Asia. Yea, just like that, hmmm, headed over to Asia. I like that ring.
Twenty five minutes later we were in Kadokoy - Asian Turkey.
We wandered the streets. The fish market with the eclectic offering of fish strung up, iced down - octupus, billfish, lobster, red flounder, anchovies. It all looked good. And right next to this shop, a vegetable stand, filled with its own variety of colors.
Going back to the dock the boat (a boat) was pulling away and we jammed our jetons(tokens) into the slot and ran aboard almost missing it. But, it was not our boat. Nope. We went north of the city and landed in Besakis. Realizing the error, we got off, bought more tokens, got back on the same boat and went back to Asia, where we got off and got on the right boat and finally made it back to Europe.
Where else can you do that. Europe>Asia>Europe>Asia>Europe, all in the same day.

A couple chicken domers fro 3L. Back to the hotel.
We did not make it back out that night.

Oh, we did have some nice pistachio candies in the AM. Not as sweet as I would have thought, which was nice. Candy shops abound here, with nougat, Turkish dilights, baklava stacked high and colorful in the windows.

Mmmmm.....

Posted by Ken L 22:08 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

A long walk; hungry

Food, saffron, wandering

semi-overcast 40 °F

Istanbul is a foodie place. But, where, what? All around us is food. We came for food. We crave the different. We read up on it. Now walking around we are hard put to decipher the enormous offerings.
We had roasted chestnuts. That was easy. Now we have tried kebabs, and meatballs, twice! We have tried humus and stuffed grape leaves. We have tried beer and wine. Each time we leave a place the neighboring restuaranteer is out exorting us to try his place.
Time to search out some street food. Cheaper, easy to eat a small amount and thus try more.
Last night went in search of La-mahn-cun - a Turkish pizzalike thing in the Tophane area, but I think it was too late and we ended up listening to music and peoplewatching in Balo street.

Today it is no restaurants, just fast cheap food. Maybe find those bun burgers(?) as noted by Anthony Bourdain. This sort of quest needs an instant response to the situation. Walking by, there it is, eat it. Do not get full, move on.

Carol bought some saffron last night. We do not know saffron from a hole in the ground. Just from Wickopedia. Saffron is interesting.
This only cost us 5TL for a small bag. Turkish saffron. They also had Iranian and Spanish saffron, which both are betterand went up in price and down in quantity. Like a very small breath mint size box. Maybe it is "curiously stronger".
Monday in the spice market our first encounter with saffron where it was 20L a gram!!! The fellow weighed it out on a scale like it was drugs. A small amount of fluff.
Saffron rice, with paella. That is my experience in the (distant) past with saffron.

We bought a couple evil eye pendants also. I told Carol I would affix one to my right shoulder since she usually walks on my right side, then I would be protected.

Posted by Ken L 21:58 Archived in Turkey Tagged food Comments (0)

Foodhawkers

Musings and walkings

semi-overcast 42 °F

First AM. Time to stretch the legs and get acquainted with this place.
Some roasted chestnuts. There are carts all over. Last time I has these was in Paris many years ago. My ancient memories of roasted chestnuts was my father buying them outside the musuem of Natural History in NYC a long time ago, and far away. A journey you can never repeat. Chestnuts were a treat and I like the ones that have the smokey flavor from being a touch burned by the coals.

Of course had to go down into the Cisterns. See the Medusa heads and walk under the various drippy waters from the brick ceiling. Churchlike in its silence and columns.
I have my new Canon G11 camera and set for low light the pictures we true and clear.
Leaving the underground it was clear and sunny and after a glass of pomegranate juice, it was rainy and windy. The tarps over the vendors flapped and ripped.
Then we were entering the Grand Bazaar. Not a great thing on my list. Did not want to fend off the carper merchants. But it was not too bad. We walked through the main thorougfare and out the other side.
Then it was a couple mosques. I have never been one to like churches and now, mosques. Their interiors are stylish, quiet, a hushed sort of ambiance and not my style to gawk around at people praying.
I wanted to see the Spice market.
Threading our way through the narrows where backgammon boards, knives, evil eyes, pots and pans, shoes, shirts were sold and then into the arch of the entrance to the spice market we were agog with the colors and aromas - soaps, spice, candies. Lined up in rows and boxes, and piles. Things hung from above and crowded from the edges, back to back, front to side, in to out.
Out the side door to the square and sitting in a place for a cup of tea (cay) - pronounced "chai".
The day was blustery and the tablecloth flapped and folded itself. Our collars were up.

The Galata bridge now ran across the Golden Horn and we went. Colorful fried fish sellers at the near shore, grilling fish on boats and handing them off to customers on the dock.
We walked along the lower level. Lined on this windy side was a long row of restaurants, which might have been nice but for this biting wind. Nethertheless, each one we passed some one rushed out and invited us to "please" look at the menu, "maybe just a tea or coffee". We said no and held up our simit (sesame bagellike ring of bread, only 1 Turkish Lira-TL).

Dejavu restuarant this evening, only because the chalkboard said beer 5L, and then the fellow was so nice. So we sat outide for a while until the cold got to us and then inside to the quieter, forks on plates noises of good eating. We tried some Raki, which I liked, liking licorice, and reminded me of Pernod and travels through France in vagabonding days.
Dejavu a good name since I could see going back to this place as the food looked quite good.

We are staying in the Hotel Ilkay right on the tram line down from the Gulhane stop. The Galata bridge is only 200 meters away. The local area s a cross section of life.

Posted by Ken L 22:21 Comments (0)

Delayed & tired

27 hrs

overcast

Feeling still tired. 27 hours with a lot of plane equipment problems. Finally a beer, stuffed grape leaves, and a hookah on some cushions. But really finally, to bed.
Now coffee, yogurt, and olives in the AM. Still a bit...blah.
Mild weather.
Hotel Ilkay room minimal, like a room in Mexico would be.
The hotel a rabbit Warren of stairs, tiny elevators, and basic rooms.
Turks very friendly.

Posted by Ken L 00:07 Archived in Turkey Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Istanbul exotic

Pre-musings


View Istanbul on Ken L's travel map.

Why did you decide to go there?
This, a common question.

Because it was the cheapest place I found at the time. I was only back from Hanoi for a week and was already researching the next place to go. You gotta think ahead.
So, it was off to the internet. Less expensive is a big factor in where to go. And, it may take you somewhere you otherwise would not have thought of or considered.
To those who love to travel, where is not so important as when and how.
So, Turkey popped up on a site as cheapest so I scrolled down pricing options. I went and looked.

Now, since I am a working man, my time is not fully my own. Would be nice to go away for months. However, in lieu of that dream, you gotta take what you can get. I figured I could get a week. Not able to travel around the whole country of Turkey of course. The city of Istanbul would do fine for 8 days. Lots to see in a city. Some day trips to get you out of there too.

One week. I have done this in the past with Paris, London, Prague and Budapest, and Hanoi. All products of the 'cheaper' search and visit modus operandi.

So, this Sat (Feb 13) it will be off to the Orient, the exotic, the mysterious, the edge of Asia, and my first time near the middle east where so much intrigue has always been and still remains a thorn in the paw of the world.

What to expect?
Aside from mosques and palaces and the Bosphorus and seemingly cold weather now, it seems that Istanbul will be a food fest of sorts. Not in any organized way, but in its variety and flavor. I am looking forward to some foody adventures.

So, "gule gule" - Turkish for "be on your way with a smile"

Posted by Ken L 07:50 Archived in Turkey Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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