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Trip to Turkey September 2004
Monday, September 6, 2004

hotel roof top viewWe woke before 6:00am to the call-to-prayer.  I was starting to get accustomed to it although I was still a little uncomfortable.  It was a fairly gentle way to wake and if we dozed lightly the next thing we heard were the morning bird sounds.  The mourning doves in Istanbul have a unique call. 

We dozed and then dressed so we could start our day with breakfast which was included with the price of the hotel room. 
This was our first Turkish-style breakfast.  The hotel cook served it buffet style.  The table was full of 2 different kinds of olives, white cheese (similar to feta but not as crumbly), tomato slices, cucumber slices, watermelon (or fig, or Turkish melon, a seasonal fruit), tea, orange drink, hard boiled eggs, fluffy bread "ekmek" (like French bread only fluffier), marble coffee cake, some small filo puff pastries, honey, butter, strawberry jam, and cherry syrup with whole cherries.  If you poured the cherry syrup over the white cheese it tasted like cherry cheesecake. 
In the traditional Turkish breakfast, the eggs are usually soft boiled rather than hard boiled, but my stomach and I appreciated the hard boiled eggs.  Traditional Turkish breakfast also usually includes a choice of soup, and ours didn't but there was plenty to eat and perhaps the menu had been changed just a little to accommodate the tastes of foreign guests. hotel roof top view
The breakfast was wonderful and filling. It gave us the strength we needed to face a stranger in a strange city, so off we went back towards the Arista market and then towards the Four Seasons Hotel so we could find Sadi at Asia Minor Carpets.

Sadi turned out to have an excellent command of English.  Although Turkish, he lived in Germany most of his life.  He introduced us to his coworker Adnan, who spoke English almost as well, the shop owner, and their cook.  The shop has a beautiful courtyard in back with a couple of tables and chairs under the trees.  The shop owner is excavating the ruins beneath his shop.  After walking around a little in Istanbul, we were starting to gain an understanding of Turkey and ruins.  There are ruins all over Turkey and the poor government is overwhelmed and can't fund every excavation.  The excavated rooms were stone with high ceilings and big arches. 

I felt a little awkward at first, imposing on Sadi's time and the shop's time and space, but then Sarah showed up.  I didn't recognize her at first because she was about 25 pounds less than the pictures I had seen of her, and her hair was lighter; but the moment she started talking and I heard her speech patterns and watched her move, I was at ease.  There was no mistaking Joel's sister.

Between Sadi and Sarah we learned enough about Turkish language and culture to ease some of our greatest concerns:  as foreigners we weren't expected to know the "right way to do things" or to follow their customs.  We found out that everyone pretty much ignores the call-to-prayer, except that those playing loud music will turn it down during the call in respect to those who might want to hear it.

In Turkey, Sarah was getting around mostly by walking.  I estimate she walks about 12 miles per day, which explains her weight loss.  Now we were going to have to keep up.  We took a walking tour with Sarah to the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar is a very colorful and busy place full of hawkers who would instantly guess our nationality and speak to us in perfect northern US English trying to entice, cajole, guilt-trip, etc us into buying their wares.  Many of them said "we are not like the others.  We will not pressure you into buying." They didn't touch us, but they walked very close to us.  The Turkish sense of "personal space" is smaller than ours.

The building itself was surprisingly tidy and clean.  It was like a labyrinth with many avenues, a brick ceiling of many high arches and porthole-like windows to allow diffuse sunlight in.

On the way to the spice market we stopped at a little restaurant upstairs, overlooking the street, for a snack of simit (seemeet), a ring-shaped pastry with sesame seeds.  Tom bumped his head on the low ceiling.

The spice bazaar was similar to the Grand Bazaar, though smaller and more crowded.  The wares were even more colorful.  When we walked out to the other side we were at the Ferry terminal at the mouth of the Golden Horn near the Galata Bridge, with cars parked all over the no parking zone on the upper level (the major arterial through town).

Sarah picked out a restaurant for us and we had our first taste of raki (undotted i - rakuh). 

Blue MosqueAyasofya, bluer than the Blue Mosque
Created:  November 15, 2004
Updated:  March 9, 2008
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