Monday, April 20, 2009

Another Finish Line Crossed

The finish line was crossed at 5:30PM on Friday. Since this is also the time the downstairs bar opens up, people didn’t actually leave the building until around 8:00PM. Many people, including myself didn’t even leave their computers until well after 6:30PM.We sat around chatting and drinking beer, celebrating the end of the workweek. Fine for me, I am all about the reward system; work hard, reward for your hard work, repeat.

I went home that night looking forward to a long night of sleep; a full morning of sleep too.

Eventually, on Saturday I did leave the house to meet Martha for some sightseeing. We met up at the funicular and transferred to an over-crowded tram to the Beyazit Mosque. However, we couldn’t go traipsing around a mosque with empty bellies.

We went in search of Erenler Cay Bahcesi. The guidebook said it was a good place for tea. It didn’t say it was a great place for tea and water pipes, aka hookahs. Definitely going back here with Robin. It was the kind of place you could lose a couple of hours to smoking flavored tobacco and drinking tea.

Erenler Cay Bahcesi

Though Erenler Cay Bahcesi had lovely ambience, it didn’t have any food, and one cannot live on tea alone. (Although, I’m sure there’s someone out there who has tried.) Martha and I found a great place on the bustling street with shaded tables and excellent people watching opportunities. We shared a Shepard’s salad and Iskender. Iskendar is a dish with kebap cooked over tomato sauce soaked bread served with a side of yogurt. (My tummy really likes all this yogurt eating.)

So, with full tummies and a caffeine buzz, Martha and I wandered through a piece of the Grand Bazaar on our way to the Beyazit Mosque. I can’t understand why anyone would buy anything there, especially jewelry. But there they were, rows upon rows of jewelers with “authentic” diamonds. After walking down the jeweler street, we walked down the fake designer street, er, I mean really good deals on Dolce Gabbana purses and Puma sneakers. You can’t even make eye contact with a key chain without being harassed. As it is with many street vendor situations, I can’t understand why they won’t just leave you alone and let you look at their stuff. If only they would understand that if I were free to look and decide to buy or not to buy of my free will, I would more likely buy something. However, if I know that when I look I will be harassed and have objects shoved under my chin that I would never have an interest in purchasing even if they handed it to me for free, I probably won’t look at all and never buy anything. I’m more likely to just try and walk through, eyes staring straight ahead, having a conversation with my friend as though deaf to the rest of the world, than attempt to deal with someone yelling “hey lady, nice jeans right here” into my face. Eh, it’s universal though, what to do?

Into the Grand Bazaar

Martha and I made it through the bazaar and into the Byazit Square where the mosque stood. The Byazit mosque has 24 little domes on top of its roof, surrounding a little square courtyard and a central fountain.

The Courtyard of the Byazit Mosque

You have to take your shoes off before you go inside the building and carry them around with you in a plastic bag. (Guess there’s no fear of someone stealing your shoes.) As women, we also had to cover our heads. I just carry a scarf around with me wherever I go, so I am ready for female duck and cover action. The interior was dark and spacious, beautiful calligraphy on the walls and ceiling. What was most impressive to me was the lighting. Hanging from the ceiling by infinite wires were simple glass containers which each held a light bulb. I’m sure at one time, they held candles, but that time has long passed. There were hundreds of them hanging at the same level in concentric circles throughout the building; so simple and beautiful.

Lights of the Byazit Mosque

It was soon time to head back home to get ready for the evening. I had a birthday party to get ready for!

I met some friends from work at the Taksim station and we walked up and down Istiklal Street looking for the restaurant where Abril’s birthday party was to be held. Apparently, they had forgotten the map to the restaurant. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that Istiklal is one of the most crowded streets that I have ever walked down in my life. So, we walked all the way down Istiklal and when we got to the end my friend, Melta, finally called the birthday girl only to find out that the party was at the end we had started on. So, back we went until finally, we found the restaurant.

We had a big table for twenty something people filled with mezze and rakı, wine and bread, whatever you wanted. We filled up on mezze and got dizzy on rakı (a popular Turkish liquor that tastes much like Ouzo). We had different main courses after the mezze and I got Çipura, which I later found out is Gilthead Seabream, a white fish, grilled whole and served with lemon. The dinner concluded with singing and a big pink birthday cake.

Then, it was off to the clubs. We went to one place where they had horrible, loud, industrial music that sounded more like machines dying than music. After standing there for a few minutes, we discovered we were supposed to go upstairs another floor. We went upstairs and there was some fun old style funk to bounce around to. After a half hour or so, we moved on to another club that was so crowded, you had to push through to the bathroom like you were at the front row of a rock concert. And the music? 1950’s American rock n’ roll. No kidding. The hits that night were Rockin Robin, La Bamba, Wake up Little Suzie… I’m serious. And people were dancing like they might as well have been listening to techno.

Around 2 or 3 in the AM, my feet started to complain as well as my eyes. Apparently, people around here like to go out till around 4 or 5 in the morning, but I was dog-tired and ready for bed long before then. I had a friend help me find a cab and give proper directions and made the long journey home. Through stop and go traffic and getting lost twice, I finally made it hope bright and early in the morning, hehe.

1 comment:

andrealacanela said...

Hi El,
Glad the yogurt is helping & agreeable food is found. Mommy wants to know her girl is getting well fed.
And friends abound. The Saturday scenario with the group dinner & dancing topped with pink cake!
You sound safe & hard working. Getting your just rewards!
The tea shop, the beautiful mosque, the bizarre bazarre, love the pics.