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:
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.
There were some pretty stained glass windows, though:
The headquarters of the Communist Party in Turkey-note the flag on the building:
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:
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:
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.
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!
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!
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:
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.
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!