Sunday, October 31, 2010
The Remains Of The Days
I'm having trouble remembering what we did when and most of the real highlights have already been spelled out. I'll try to get the rest of it down here - may or may not be in order.
Friday: Cooking class. Attending a class with three other Americans. One couple had just returned from a two week tour of Turkey. Said it was amazing. They really, really enjoyed Cappadochia. I had really wanted to go there as well as Ephesis, but didn't want this to turn into another march across a country like the trip to Ireland did. Back to cooking class - it was a nice way to spend part of the day. More than cooking, I really enjoyed getting to hear about others experiences in Turkey, trading tips and getting some background information from the class leader. We made red lentil soup, stuffed grape leafs, stuffed, fried eggplant, cheese pastry cigar thingies, and dried figs stuffed with walnuts.
Pebbles and I really wanted to visit the Blue Mosque again, but it being Friday afternoon, that was inappropriate.
We had tried to visit the Carpet and Kilim Museum, but it was closed for renovation. The Süleymaniye Mosque was closed for renovation. It is said to be the most beautiful mosque in Istanbul. We couldn't find the mosiac museum.
We visited the Archeology Museum complex. Wow! If one were a student of archeology, the main museum would keep you enthralled for days. There was a lot, lot, lot of relics to see there. Also on the grounds was Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Museum of Turkish Ceramics. The ceramic museum was one of my favorites. It was a small display, but was housed in a gorgeous tiled structure. One of my favorite remembrances of this site isn't actually in the buildings at all. There is a space adjacent to the courtyard where many old relics are displayed upon pillars - statues without heads, heads without statues - just lined up in a walkable space underneath some majestic chestnut trees. Interspersed are modern pieces of sculpture. Why these antiquities are outside, I don't know. Could be that they have just so many and these are unnamed and blemished. But there is a refreshment stand there and a couple of tables, but being able to just walk through these things is this setting is pretty amazing.
We took the cruise up the Bospherus. The Bospherus Sea separates the Black Sea from the Marmara Sea, the Agean and eventually the Mediterranean. The trip is about twenty miles and the ferry makes about six stops and takes about an hour and a half. You can get off at any of the stops, but we chose to ride to the very end and spend three hours in Asia. We really didn't have an agenda, other than to grab some lunch, but we ended up following some other people up the hill to see the ruins of a castle at Andolu Kavagi. Obviously, we hadn't read the wiki entry or we wouldn't have accidently stumbled upon the military base. We stopped to take the pictures and all of a sudden, whistles started sounding. We looked back over our shoulders, and there was an armed guard, whistle in mouth, pointing to a HUGE sign that said "No photographs allowed". Luckily, they let us just move on and didn't take our cameras! Oh, and there is a picture of me enjoying a lovely fish lunch overlooking the village.
The Basilica Cistern was another thing that hadn't even made my list of things to see, but turned out to be amazing. Built by Justinian at about the same time as the Hagia Sophia, it is this huge underground water storage area supported by massive columns, over 300! I've never seen anything like it. Pebbles got one really cool shot, as they have certain rows of columns lit.
Istanbul University Incident: We were returning from our thwarted trip to the Süleymaniye Mosque (closed for renovation) and we routed ourselves back down through the campus of IU. The jury is still out as to whether this was some sort of scam - my gut says no - anyway, we were walking through campus and up ahead of us were two men in their twenties who were working as shoe shiners. They were talking to each other, not paying any attention to us, when one got up, packed up his stuff to leave. As he was leaving, one of his soft brushes feel out of the kit. Pebbles called after him and gave him back the brush. We continued walking. A few seconds later, he is in front of me, with his kit, trying to sit down on the stool thingy saying "It's a courtesy, It's a courtesy" - I kept saying no thank you, no thank you and kept walking. Personally, I think he was just trying to thank us (and perhaps secure a tip) - I don't think the whole dropping of the brush thing was an act. Anyway, I did not get my shoes shined, but hoped I didn't offend him.
We returned a couple more times to the new restaurant. The next visit had me in a discussion with the owner about anchovies, which were part of the cold dish mezzes, but not available as a hot dish main course. I'd always heard that fresh anchovies were very good and very different from the things we get in cans. He offered to have the chef fix fry me up some fresh ones. And I agreed. Holy moly - he brought out a large plate stacked with anchovies, heads and tails. I think there is a picture of them as well. Oh, note about some of the pictures - Pebbles posted these pictures to FB in no real particular order. Rather than wait until she actually gets me a complete set of her pictures which will happen NEVER, I just downloaded her pictures into the picasa album. I'm still working on integrating them into the appropriate time sequence, as best I can remember. But back to the fish. So I start to eat the fish with a knife and fork - the owner comes back by our table, laughs and tells me that anchovies are finger food and that I must eat them with my hands "to pick" he says. He promises to bring me a towel to clean. Then he asks me if I like chips. Yes, I tell him. Then he says I must eat the fish tails! They taste just like chips. And he breaks off a fried tail, pops it into his mouth to demonstrate. And so I follow suit. Pebbles is about to break out in a rash! She is laughing herself silly over this sight. We finish our delicious meal and order dessert and it is on this night that we discover the food of the gods - kanafeh. The best thing in the history of ever! We go back again the next night, even after late lunch at cooking school - we go in just for a Turkish coffee and a dessert!
Coming home wasn't nearly as smooth as the trip over. Security is much more stringent than we are used to. We went through three levels of security, with the final security check being done at each flight gate. We were also delayed in taking off, but made up the time on the long flight - upon which I did not sleep going home. Made for a long, long day, but that dear Bick met me at the airport with a Route 44 Diet Cherry Limeade and said that Texas had missed me.