After a good session with them, I was off on my own to explore, photograph and get a taste of Turkis culture after a long hiatus. I started my day with a walk to the Grand Bazaar which is hundreds of years old. Here you will find leather goods and jewellery along with trinkets and anything Turkish. The place is a little bit touristy for my liking, so I did what I do best. I networked with some locals and asked where the local Turks would go if they wanted to enjoy a peaceful coffee and a Nargile. I was directed to a Turkish garden only a few hundred metres from the Bazaar.
Getting to this garden was like going through a labyrinth in order to find a piece of cheese. This was another Turkish gem, not a single tourist in an area bastardized and totally overrun by tourists. I had the entire day to explore but I knew I would spend a good portion of it right here. There were ample things and people to photograph right in this small area.
I enjoyed my second Turkish coffee f the day, a cappuccino flavoured Nargile and a glass of Turkish “Chai”. After a few hours of sitting and relaxing, I needed to get some lunch. Again, I asked a few locals where I can get an authentic Turkish meal. I was walked over to a local spot, again not a tourist in sight!
I told the waiter that I wanted to try a little of everything and he smiled. I looked over at the kitchen and there was a wood oven with a special chef whos only purpose was to stretch and cook fresh pita bread! I am on a strict “no bread” diet, but this is something I could not pass up. I thought to myself that I will do an extra 20 minutes of cardio to make up for this one. The first thing that was brough tot me was the fresh pita, it was the size of a dinner plate! It had a design on it made from sesame seeds and it was piping hot. Worth the extra cardio any day! My meal arrived and it consisted of a HUGE mixed grill platter with Lamb, Beef, Chicken, Kebab, Chicken wings, salad, pickled red cabbage and a middle eastern staple: fresh parsley.
After a filling lunch it was time to start exploring again. I walked along the tram line past scores of shops preparing fresh Turkish delight and other confectionaries. I managed to stay the course and stay away from the sugar, no matter how tempting it was. I did however break down when I saw the fresh pomegranate juice being prepared. It took about 9 whole pomegranates to make a cup! I did it for the antioxidants… Yeah… the antioxidants!
The next leg of the day would bring me from Asia into Europe as I crossed the Bosphorus. I noticed that under the bridge, there were cafes right on the water. So I decided to walk under instead of over. This would cost me another 20-30 minutes of cardio as I stopped for another Nargile and mixed grill platter before having to leave this great city.
Walking back to the ship brought me through a very quiet area of only locals where I got some great shots of locals playing backgammon and having heated discussions. I have to say that I don’t remember too much about the details of Istanbul from when my parents had brought me here 21 years ago, but I can say that I liked it just as much this time around.