Sunday, November 2, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey: Gobble Pun Pending

Once again, I've taken a long time to update. I can't tell if that means I'm being lazy or not...on the one hand, it means I'm spending less time sitting around on the Internet. On the other hand, I'm probably still sitting around doing something else so...? Is playing cards lazy? 

We've been in Turkey for the last week and we stayed in Istanbul (not Constantinople (sorry, that was lame)) for five days, eating food, walking everywhere, and drinking gallons of tea.
Turkish tea
We took a 15 hour overnight bus from Athens to Istanbul and it was about as pleasant as you might imagine. Although, they did give us a couple snacks and some tea. One snack was a sort of salty shortbread thing aptly named Stick, which I found strangely addicting. The other was a cherry and chocolate packaged cake called Darky Kek. As far as packaged cakes go I'd say it was pretty much amazing.
When we arrived in Istanbul, we were dead tired but couldn't check in to our hostel yet, so we dropped our bags off and went for a wander to the old town. We saw the Spice Bazaar and the Blue Mosque and, after narrowly avoiding killing each other out of crankiness, we went back to the hostel where I promptly fell asleep.
Grand Bazaar
Over the next few days we did all sorts of sight seeing at Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, and a huge, crazy, crowded market where we seemed to be the only tourists. The highlight for me, though, has been the food.

A traditional Turkish breakfast is pretty ideal: assorted cheeses, olives, spreads, and a basket of bread. Turkish pizza (pide) is a long dough boat filled with cheese and toppings. Steve is obsessed with having an egg on it. Steve isn't a fan of Turkish desserts but I obviously am, because I love anything that is guaranteed to make me fat. Halva is so good that I have to be very, very careful with the amount that I buy, because once I start eating it I can't stop until it's gone. We got some assorted baklava as well, and some varieties were pretty weird but the ones that were good were SO GOOD.

After we went to the big market I mentioned earlier, which was in a less touristy part of town, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch and got some spicy pepper eggplant dip and warm yogurt soup. Yogurt soup probably sounds like a weird thing no one should eat, but it was pretty good and lemony and herby. Right before we left we saw the woman who worked at the restaurant pull a gypsy kid out from under someone else's table and shoo him away.

I was really fed up with shopping pretty much instantly, but Steve wanted to go back to the Grand Bazaar to haggle or something so I wandered around the Beyoglu neighborhood instead (near the shopping street, Istiklak Caddesi, and Taksim Square). I stopped at a nice tea place for a pot of lapsang souchong and a chocolate cupcake with warm glaze melted over it. I always eat cake when no one is looking.

We got a one hour flight to Izmir, south of Istanbul, and took a train to Selcuk, which is near the ruins of Ephesus. We meant to stay only one night and then take an overnight bus to Cappadocia, but we spent so long at Ephesus that we decided to stay an extra night and take the bus tomorrow after visiting Pamukkale. a place full of travertines that looks really cool.

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