Monday, November 19, 2012


Saturday, Nov. 17

After our long and wonderful day in Ephesus, we were a bit lazy this morning.  That's NOT to say we slept in--there is no sleeping past morning call to prayer!  But we relaxed a bit, had a leisurely breakfast, and planned our day, leaving our apartment at about 11 a.m.

Our plan for the day:  to visit the Galata Tower, and explore the Beyglu area.  We caught the Tram near our apartment, riding it across the Golden Horn to the Asian side.  It's been fun to explore two continents just a quick tram ride apart!

We explored the area around the Tram stop, enjoying the narrow winding streets, as usual.  You can see the top of Galata Tower at the end of this street:

We've seen shoe shine men around Istanbul, they always have shiny brass shoe shine kits.  I don't think this old gentleman wanted his picture taken--and I thought I was being so stealthy!

As we exploring the streets in this area we came to Istiklal Street.  This was an area we'd both read about and wanted to visit, so we started walking up this wide, bustling street.  Being a weekend, it was teeming with people!  We enjoyed the hustle and bustle, but the best part was the beautiful architecture.  It's like an old European city, except it's a little worse for wear.  There are traces of it's former glory, though.

We came across the Saint Anthony Church, and decided to have a look inside.  It's gothic in style, but much different that those in France.

Part of the vault was painted an odd blue color, and the lighting looked like black lights--very atrange:

There were some pretty stained glass windows, though:
We noticed a very heavy police presence in this area, all were armed with automatic weapons, including this female officer:

The headquarters of the Communist Party in Turkey-note the flag on the building:

We've seen these lottery ticket sellers in many areas--this old guy would spin the wheel, and then let the buyer pick the ticket.  His sign says 2 trillion Lira--we saw one that said 5 trillion!
On a narrow side street we found a fish market and some pretty fruit and vegetable markets:

What's wrong with this picture?  Warty fish--they don't look too appetizing to me:

This meat seller had a rather pitiful looking turkey for sale--the Village Turkey, according to the sign!

This old guy was parked on a steep side street, he was selling a hot drink out of his brass samovar:

By now it was time for lunch, and David picked a tiny cafe down a little alleyway.  We'd seen their sign for mushroom soup, and thought that sounded just right for a chilly and windy day.  The tiny bowl of  soup warmed us up, but it was far from the best soup we've ever had.  I'm pretty sure it was from a Knorr Soup packet!

After lunch it was time to visit the Galata Tower.  We wound our way through the streets, and with a little help from a nice young local man, we found it.  There was a small line to get in, but we soon had our tickets.

The Galata Tower was built in 1348, and was originally called Christea Turris, or Tower of Christ.  During the Ottoman period in the 1700's-1800's it was used to spot fires in the city.  The interior has undergone a few modifications over the years, and now the upper two levels are home to a cafe, restaurant and night club.

The old iron doors:

As we walked into the tower, look what I saw-- definitely the prettiest sight of the day!  I was glad to pay the couple of Lira extra to avoid a long 9 story stair climb!

The elevator took us most of the way to the top, and we climbed the last two stories to the top.

The view from the top was wonderful.  This is looking from the Asian side across the Golden Horn to the European side:

David at the top:

Looking down at the narrow streets:

Another view across the Golden Horn, with the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque:

And here we are at the top of Galata Tower:

After our sorry lunch today we thought a snack was in order, so we went into the small cafe at the top of the tower.  We shared a piece of lemon cheesecake, with Turkish coffee for David and Turkish tea for me:

David is starting to like Turkish coffee, I'm not a fan yet!

They served tiny spice cookies with each tea and coffee--it was shapped like Galata Tower.

After our little snack we hopped on the Tram, going back across the Golden Horn to the area around the Spice Bazaar.  We thought we'd explore the other side of the market.  We found it to be a very busy day--lots of locals doing their weekly shopping!

An herbal remedy shop, with bunches of natural sponges hanging in front:

There was a whole street of umbrellas in every shape, size and color:

For some reason, it seemed odd to see Santa Clause in Turkey!  There were several Christmas decoration stores open.

There was also a long street with toy shops, this small shop had games for sale; I especially liked Monopfull and Sanka Banka--a take off on our Candyland!

Lots of stuffed animals:

It was starting to get dark, so we thought we'd better be heading for home.  We wound our way through the streets, not exactly sure where we were.  We were lost in a sea of Turkish humanity, for sure!

Eventually we found our way out of this maze, we'd actually been quite near the Tram stop.  We rode back to the apartment and rested for a couple of hours--I think we might be winding down a bit--4 weeks is a long time to be on the road!

We chose a restaurant in our neighborhood for dinner.  We'd been there for lunch on our first day in Istanbul and the food had been great.  We weren't disappointed tonight, either.

Note: Sorry about the bad photos--the restaurant had a red lighted awning--everything looks quite pink and I can't seem to edit the color.

As usual, we were served some of that wonderful puffy lavash:

A meze plate, the smoky eggplant was especially good:

We ordered a lamb dish to share;  it came cooked in a clay pot and arrived at our table side on a flaming tray:

Our waiter carefully poured the broth onto a serving platter, then with great flair tapped off the top of the pot:

It was served with rice and a few vegetables, and we both enjoyed it.  Not quite as good as our lamb dinner in Goreme, but it was a lovely meal--the setting is very pretty and the service was excellent.

After we paid for our nice dinner, our waiter said he had a free surprise for us--I was thinking he was going to try to sell us a rug!  Shame on me--he was just happy to show us the underground cistern area beneath his restaurant.  A few months ago, we'd watched a TV show on Istanbul showing the many underground cisterns and tunnels.  It is common to find these areas under private homes and businesses, and this restaurant just happened to have one!  It was down about 2 flights of stairs, through a small archway:

 Interesting brick ceiling, this was probably originally plastered over and painted:

According to a sign posted at the entrance, this area was once part of the Great Magnaura Palace from the Byzantine Era--about 325 AD.

What a nice ending to our  delicious dinner and our relaxing day in Istanbul.  We walked the short few blocks back to our apartment,  stopping off at every bar along the way.  We partied till the wee hours of the morning!  (Not!)

Actually--you all know that we went to bed early again--our friend the "local alarm clock" will have us up bright and early tomorrow!


  1. That's pretty cool... right under the restuarant! It looks like you guys are having a great trip. I can understand the "winding down" comment. I don't know how you guys do it. I was worn out after two weeks!

  2. I agree Matt. I'm worn out from cleaning my apartment yesterday.... :) Again, some wonderful pictures. The tunnels under the restaurant are very interesting - kind of like the bootlegging tunnels in Chicago, but more ancient. Looking forward to you guys being back home. See ya soon.