Available until Nov 18, 2019
I started working on my Bachelors degree recently in Wildlife Conservation with an emphasis in Marine Conservation. It’s taken a minute to get my brain back in school mode and I think I’m finally back on my game. One of my other passions, of course, is writing, and I have some catching up to do before I tuck the Adventures of a Tribe blog into bed and begin the new blog on Danny’s and my travels. So bare with me for a few more of these, beginning with Istanbul, Turkey!
Our first few days were wet but picturesque nonetheless. Just like in Switzerland and Greece, I was instantly swept off my feet and fell in love with the sites, smells and people. With an umbrella in hand, I venture out and explored the streets close to the area we stayed, and soon found myself ankle deep in streams of water running down the steep winding roads…but it was worth it.
I love to wander through neighborhoods and down alley ways, to get a feel of how people really live away from the tourist traps, restaurants and markets, and what I found in Istanbul, were people always quick to smile, who were honest and hard working.
Ninety-nine percent of Istanbul’s population of 15 million, are Muslim and 2-300 000 are Christian.
As I walked the tiny streets, I saw many rooms in basements with bright lights overhead, where women sat sewing hijabs and dresses.
Around each corner was yet another steep road and I felt like I finally found that place grandparents talk about, where you walk uphill both ways!
While out exploring I found Danny some delicious peanuts covered in chocolate and then dipped in a thin layer of sugar like on a Jordan Almond. They were all green in color and the chocolate was soft and fresh.
After our lazy rainy day we ventured out further into the city where blue skies greeted us as well as all the fascinating buildings, people and foods that Istanbul has to offer.
Our first stop was The Grand Bazaar and Spice Markets….one of the oldest covered markets in the world.
Try to imagine over 60 covered streets hosting 4000 shops overflowing with smells and sights that excite and overwhelm all your senses all at once, and you never want to leave because you know you want to see every square inch of it and there’s just not enough time left in your life to complete it all! It’s a problem.
Every kind of tea you can imagine, displayed so beautifully that you want to buy it just to look at it – forget boiling the kettle.
And then there’s nuts…some wrapped in dates, some clustered together in delicious balls, assortments of chocolate and salty and slightly sweet, and some dipped in something you can’t identify but its your new favorite taste, and every vendor is force feeding you samples and you just can’t say no!
Turkish delight in every flavor you could ever imagine and better than anything they have in Narnia, and yes, they are feeding you samples of that too!…All I could think of is that my mother would founder on the rose flavored ones!
And there there’s the rolls…somebody came up with the idea of rolling the whole Grand Bazaar up into one giant delicious mouthful, and Bob’s your Uncle…they sell it in rolls. Some are nutty, some are sweet, some are both and all the rest of the flavors too. It all works and is unforgettable.
Just when you think your belly is going to explode you breathe a sign of relief because you come across a place that doesn’t have food, but instead it’s filled with natural loofah and sponges. A fascinating sight to see.
After that your nostrils are hit with ten tons of spices. Bags, barrels and bunches all beautifully displayed, and I picture myself buying overflowing sacks of nigella seed and sumac even though I don’t know what it is, but I’m a better cook already just for owning it.
Suddenly your eye catches a stall with large bags of freshly roasted coffee beans and you’re so tempted to bury your face in one just to clear your sinuses to push a reset button in your head…kinda like sniffing coffee in between sniffs at the perfume counter.
You realize it wouldn’t help though, because right next door the Pastry God is baking up a storm!
Crisp buttery layers of Baklava, Kadayıf and Revani greet you with dollops of Kaymak (clotted cream) and apricot puree. Bowls of Asure, otherwise known as ’Noah’s Pudding’ (because when Noah survived the flood he made a pudding with everything he had left on board), accompanied by fresh fig and hazelnut, displayed next to the Tavukgogosu (like rice pudding), all steamy and warm.
Just when you feel like you’re going to slip away into a diabetic coma, have no fear because they’ve got your back…with more bounteous buckets of every shape, size and color of all the plump fresh olives you’ve ever imagined.
But that’s not all folks, because Mr Cheese man is right next door, ready to compliment your olives with cheese straight from Heaven and you know you can’t resist!
I have no recollection of how much time passed but I know we eventually found our way out of that place, crawling Gi Joe style out through the escape door and to our hotel where we felt like we had to go into hibernation for a solid five months. But, we didn’t, this was just day one of exploring Istanbul…there’s more to follow folks, and I’ve lived to tell the tale!