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Trip Report Two weeks in Turkey in October: our report

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First, our thanks to otherchelebi and the whole forum for so much help. We love Turkey! Every single person we engaged with was nice, all along the spectrum from polite to hilarious, without exception. Everything here at home now looks very rectangular, and we are diminished without pattern, curve, arch and of course, the call to prayer. Here's our trip.

Day 1 Friday October 1, Istanbul

We arrived in the morning at Atatürk airport, went to the Visa counter (you have to pay cash-- here is my first apology for not taking a note, but it was either $20 or $25 dollars US) and got through customs in no time. A friend who travelled in July described this scene as absolute chaos, but seems like October is much more sane. We followed the signs to the metro, used the ATM machine at the train entrance, bought jetons (the train token, $1.50TL for each ride, you will need 2 to get to Sultanahmet) and boarded the Blue 1 Line to Zeytinburnu. At Zeytinburnu we exited the metro and followed signs to the tram (enter through the turnstile with your second jeton).

The tram gave us our first look around. There was something about the outskirts that seemed to both of us to feel like the intersection of India and Mexico (minus water buffalo). There are big foreboding concrete apartment buildings and all sorts of storefronts stacked one on top of the other, all feeling sort of dug out from the landscape. As we got closer to the center the feel became much more cosmopolitan, of course.

We got off at the Sultanahmet stop on Divan Yolu a little before noon and walked to the Hotel Alp on Akbiyik Caddesi, a little beyond Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque. The Hotel Alp was a great place to stay for about $100/night. Good location if you are going to stay in Sultanahmet, a little tucked away from the crazy touristyness of Divan Yolu, although with plenty of restaurants filled with other tourists (we succumbed only once after a really long day to dinner here, but our advice would be to leave this part of town to eat! more on that later). Each room at the Alp has a little refrigerator, and the roof terrace looks at the Sea of Marmara, and the edge of Asia. You can smoke on the roof and watch great cargo ships and little fishing boats go by. The fellas who run the hotel (Erman and Mustafa) are very sweet and completely helpful. There is a good Turkish breakfast (bread, cheese, hard boiled eggs, olives, fruit, cucumber, tomato, yogurt, borek...) but bad Nescafe carafe coffee (our only complaint!).

After dropping our bags here we walked to look at the Sea. There are throngs of boats, big, small, urgent, bobbing, and fisherman on the rocks, some in suit jackets, slacks and raybans, each with a setup (umbrella, cat, bucket....) . We walked through the grounds around Topkapı which is thick with gigantic ancient plane trees, walked back to the hotel, took a nap, and headed back out to find Beyoğlu.

We walked toward the Galata bridge through the twisty streets east of the Grand Bazaar with throngs of covered women and western dressed men with their babies doing after work shopping. We crossed to the bridge via the underpass which was crazy thick with people hurtling from one side to the other. The bridge is lined by men fishing with multiply baited long poles pulling up shimmering sardines four at a time. Boats are everywhere, moving, docking, glittering. We have decided that Istanbul makes Madrid look like a sleepy burg. The pace of life is staggering. We live in New York City, so are not unfamiliar with what a crowd feels like, but the energy in Istanbul is completely different. Here in New York there is a sort of slightly hostile vibe that runs under the surface (I've lived here since 1989, I love it completely, but acknowledge the hard edge of New York) but Istanbul just feels like life. Could be my tourist perspective, but I will hold the cats of Istanbul up as evidence. Ferrel cats in New York are afraid, scrawny and scrappy out of necessity. Istanbul is filled with cats who all look like indoor cats. They are gorgeous and frolicky. They are taken care of, fed, pet, loved. We had dinner with a friend of a friend who lives in Istanbul and when we talked about the cats she said that of course we all take care of the cats, why wouldnt you? A city of 20 million people who look after cats feels different than a city of 8 million that doesnt. Anyways, back to Beyoğlu. We ended up on the pedestrian boulevard Istiklal, on a Friday night, feeling like Istanbul's 20 million residents were out for a stroll here, in and out of the western feeling shops. We peaked into the courtyard of St. Antoine Kilise, a quiet and beautifully constructed complex. We continued on Istiklal and took a left onto Balık Pasaj, a completely lively fish market street with mussels being fried in gigantic wok-like cauldrons. Stopped and had midye tava, unbelievably delicious fried mussels on a stick with a garlic mayonaisse sauce. We also stopped on a street off of the Pasaj and had mercimek çorba, a red lentil comfort food soup. Wandered into a pastry shop and had my first şekerpare, a delicious round flour/semolina/syrup sort of pastry dotted with a pistachio.

Our walk back to the hotel was down steep streets leading away from the Galata tower, like a cobblestoned San Francisco. Instead of walking over the bridge, we walked on the level underneath past all the sparkly restaurants, watching the lights of the city dotted with minarets, a completely romantic vision.

Day 2 Saturday October 2, Istanbul

This is our day of the very long walk, from Sultanahmet to the Chora Church/Kariye Müzesi, all the way across Istanbul to the city walls. Our first stop was a quiet mosque called the Kalendar Camii, where the guy who looks after the mosque showed us what was original and what was restoration. My tiny bit of turkish came in handy (yeni boya ve eski boya-- new and old paint). We are both painters and Mark works as a decorative painter doing restoration, so being able to look through the layers of change was great. The guy had me touch a well polished marble tile so that I will become pregnant. I tell him "genç degilim" (I'm not young) and he replies "O güçlü!" (He's strong!) pointing to Mark. The exterior walls of the mosque are falling apart, with crumbling brick arches and ancient rubble just lying around next to abandoned pieces of contemporary detritus.

Our next stop is the wonderful şehzade camii, a beautiful complex designed by the master architect Sinan, the grounds filled with the ubiquitous cats and a giant Sycamore tree. There are wonderful geometric half round panels in the courtyard, each different from the other. This is the beginning with our fascination with Islamic pattern, trying to identify the core unit and follow it as it makes a pattern that creates a second, third , fourth layer of pattern.

As we continue west the neighborhood becomes much more religious. All the women are covered, and more completely covered than where we have been. The streets are very steep. Our walk is a confusion of paths and turns that lead us to the city walls where a young man with a bitten up pitbull is trying to sell birds in a box to a guy, all kind of whispered and black market feeling-- interesting. The walls are tremendous and you get a real sense of the us and them dynamic in Byzantium! We had a tough time actually finding the Church, but eventually we are there and the mosaics are amazing. If you have any interest at all in this kind of art it is not to be missed. The Christ head is suprisingly humanist, not as stylized as is more commonly found.

We begin to head back and stop at the Pammakaristos Church or Fethiye Camii, which, after the magnificent mosaics in the Kariye Müzesi is a little underwhelming. So quickly jaded! We stop in and look at the very lovely, golden interior of the Church of St. George, and have a smoke overlooking the city in the courtyard of the Sultan Selim Camii. The view from here is tremendous, the whole city is laid out in front of you. We arrive at the Fatıh Camii as prayers are starting so have to settle for exterior views. We watch a worker on pipe scaffold 60 feet up, chipping away, without a plank under his feet. Kind of fearless. We peak into the mosque and see cats cavorting at the knees of men bending for prayer. We end up at Mısır Çarşısı, the spice bazaar, and of course fall in love with the sea of color and smell! We get delicious dried fruit of melons we've never heard of in green and yellow and orange. I begin my acquisition of spices for future cooking (made my first mantı last night--- the mantı-rakı party was a big success here in brooklyn). We walk to the bridge and have fish in one of the restaurants near the karakoy end called "GalaLife." The fish is good, the dinner is a little pricey but watching the boats leave and arrive at the dock in the lit up night is totally worth it. Our waiter is from Mesopotamia, speaks 4 languages, and is working 12 hour days for not a lot of dough... impressive kid and we wish him well.

Day 3 Sunday October 3, Istanbul
We spend the whole day at the Archeological Museum. Since I have been so longwinded I will give you a list only of our favorite things from this remarkable place:
The Alexander Sarcophagus
The mummy case from Sidon with the knees and shins carved
The giant Bes statue
The winged woman/griffon sarcophagus (I think Lycian)
The hittite (?) figurines in the glass cases upstairs
The whole story of Osman Hamdi Bey, the founder
The tile pavilion
Winged butterfly Persephone
Ishtar tiles

Day 4 Monday October 4, Istanbul
Mark is 50 today! We begin at the Blue Mosque, and start to see evidence of restoration that we dont quite understand. If anyone happens to read this report and knows the ins and outs and strategy of mosque and site restoration we'd love to hear it. There are exposures in the mosque that show a different color plan than the remainder of the decoration and we are to see this over and over again. If this is new, why change what must be historically accurate? If this is old, why was the decision made to divert from the plan? We also see a lot of really shameful inpainting, particularly in the mausoleums of aya sofya. Very mysterious. We stroll the hippodrome, and go to visit the Cistern, a stunning space architecturally. The engineering of the place is fascinating-- what is the "waterproof mortar" that kept these walls intact for a couple of millenia, holding a huge underground water supply? Strangely, there is no musty smell either. Its a great place to check out.

We walk through a district selling all kinds of underwear, the window full of the rainbow assortment of bras contrasting with the tastefully newspaper covered naked mannequin. We tried to visit Suleymaniye mosque, which is closed for restoration!! Very disappointing, but there is a great description to read of clever Sinan's "sooth" collection system. The tombs are closed on Mondays, so we move on to the Rüstem Pasa Camii, the most beautiful mosque in Istanbul. It is a jewelbox filled with endless blue tiles.

We walk back to Beyoğlu and get our first look at Taksim square, an insanely busy and pretty ugly monstrosity of public space. Feels very outsized. We have dinner with our friend's friend, a womens rights activist in Istanbul. She talks about their work influencing changes in the penal code (just altered for the first time in 75 years) that now say a woman is an equal partner to a man in marriage. Now the work is to make women in Turkey aware that this exists. We eat at a restaurant called "Urban"-- delicious Hünkar begendi, braised beef with eggplant purée, and our first rakı. We are eating outside, all of Beyoğlu seems to be eating outside, and while this feels that it has probably always been this way, our friend tells us that this is a relatively new phenomenon, brought about by the no smoking indoors laws. Restaurants and patrons simply decided to eat on the sidewalks, even when its cold.

Day 5 Tuesday October 5, Istanbul
Finally Aya Sofya. The mausoleums feature endless variation on the geometric theme. Incredible tile and door patterns. In spite of the previously mentioned extremely lame restoration attempts, the spaces are still great. We look at every tile. I dont have to write about Aya Sofya itself because it is so famous, but nothing really prepares you for the immensity of the space. We then go to the Mosaic Museum, which we nearly crossed of the list because its "just one floor." That would have been a colossal error. It is one gigantic tremendous mosaic floor with mythological creatures, and birds, and beasts, feet crossing water, and gods, and women and warriors. If you love mosaic DO NOT MISS THIS.

Day 6 Wednesday October 6, Istanbul
We brave Topkapı where there are truly insane crowds-- throngs of tourists. But we find incredible transfixing pattern everywhere. The treasury is filled with centuries old bling, everything jewel encrusted. We spend most of the day here, do not miss the Harem even though it has a separate ticket (and, it closes earlier than the other parts). The grounds are very beautiful, the pathways are patterned in rock. When we leave we try to enter Hagia Eirene but it is only opened for special concerts. Instead, we walked alongside where the church is crumbling to bits, and climbed down into the ruinfield. There are squat, thick, totally intact arches from nowhere to nowhere, a standing 3-pillared colonnade, original terracotta pipe embedded in brick, a fragment of colored stone pavement. We walked around with a real sense of discovery!

This night we gave ourselves a break and took the tram to Tophane instead of walking. The train was a crush of people. I ride the New York subway every day and I have never experienced quite this level of density. Look away if you're shy, but there was a little action going on in the tram and the fellow next to me was being "intimate" with my thigh. By the way, I dressed modestly throughout the trip, long blousy shirts over jeans. Anyhow, Mark also saw an older gentleman give my thigh a squeeze. It was packed I didnt even feel it. But, and this is going to sound funny, this crowd was so darned good natured (not the cursing angry bunch I am used to back home) that it didnt bug me.

We walked back to Istiklal and Balık Pasaj, and found "Vera" on Nevisade, where I had mantı (mmmmm) and Mark had köfte with a sort of potato noodle. That and 4 50cl Efes beers cost $39.50TL, which was about standard. The beers were 6TL each, so if you are abstaining, you can eat very well for not much cash.

Day 7 Thursday October 7, Izmir to Selçuk
We get a cab (either 30 or 35TL) to Atatürk Airport and fly Pegasus airline to Izmir. Very easy. The Izmir airport is beautiful, all green glass reconfigurable walkways. We rented from Europecar (autoeurope online, europecar on the ground) and the lovely guy at the desk finds out how far we are driving so gets us a diesel so we can save money on gas. I apologize, I cant remember the name of the model, but it was a Fiat and a total dog on the hills, a very old, tired dog. But if you didnt need to go uphill, it was just fine. We drive the "old road" on the advice of the Europecar guy and arrive in Selçuk, at the Hotel Bella, right across from the St. John Basilica.

We walk to a sort of storefront eatery across from a place called "Jimmys Place Hotel" called "Parmak Isirtan" which I think translates to "Finger Bite." We have extremely tasty gozleme at a table in the sunshine and when I bring our plates back up to the window where the kerchiefed, sock and sandled woman who seems to run the place is cooking she gives huge smiles.

Fortified, we visit the Efes Museum which has some great pieces (Cybele, a marble head of Eros, a bronze head of a philospher). Next we go to check out St. John's Basilica. Lots of massive walls built of stone and fill and fronted by more stone and brick. You see great details, like stone shelves embedded into the walls. Closet space!! Mark is ready to agent orange Turkey to save the ruins from the weeds. We end up at the Isabey Camii, in its serene courtyard at sunset. We have mezes on the roof of Hotel Bella, looking out at twinkly Selçuk. We have an eastern turkish meze "Mardin Ezme" which is up to this point the most delicious thing I have eaten. I am trying to get recipe tips from the guy responsible for making this incredible dish and he is laughing at me telling me I am just never going to be able to make this at home. He is, of course, right. Although, I made a righteous ezme last night but its still miles away from whatever it was that he cooked up.

Day 8 Friday October 8, Selçuk
Good coffee at the Hotel Bella! and a delicious breakfast including eggs cooked to order. They try awfully hard at this hotel. I think its a bargain, two nights cost $229TL, which included our breakfasts, 4 beers, 2 apple teas, 3 mezes and 2 soups, and we had a little balcony off of our room where we sat at night watching the sky and drinking Selçuk grocery store wine (completely drinkable and didnt break the bank). Even though we have a car, the hotel guy tells us that their driver can drop us off and pick us up at Ephesus (no charge) instead of parking then having to backtrack to get the car. So we do this and get dropped into a sea of cruise ship tourists. I have friends who have been here when its empty , and I thought maybe we had a shot at that in October, but it was a mad scene. But its still a remarkable place. The great stuff list:
The marble road, you can envision the chariots
Ins and outs of small arched spaces
The terrace houses (dont skip this and its extra charge!!! it is sooo interesting. go in to think of the heating system alone... central steam heating in pipes behind the stone walls)
--120,000 piece wall puzzle reconstruction
--bits of fresco
--beautiful colored marble
--enormous vaulted space
--drainage pipes and heating pipes covered by frescoed panels
As we are leaving the Terrace Houses we see a poor older lady who had hit her head and was bleeding, sitting on the ground with her tour guide. I hand her poor stunned looking husband a bandaid. We hike up off the path and see the library from behind. As we are looking at the library from our vantage point an ambulance drives right through the archway to come to her rescue. We end up at the stadium which has truly comfortable seating and seemingly room for thousands.

We get our lift back to our hotel, pick up the car and drive to Priene. The setting is awesomely beautiful, lush, with tall light yellow bronze grasses, bright green trees and wonderful hills surrounding and embracing the fragmented ruins. There is a field of slices of scalloped columns. There are hardly any people here and we have a magic picnic in the stadium. There are throne sort of seats in the first row of the stadium-- its windy and pretty cold but the sun hits the throne seats (of course!) and we bake a little warmth back in! On our way back we nearly have a head-on collision, closest call ever except for the actual head-on we had with a stolen car in Brooklyn, but thats a different story (we werent in the stolen car, the stolen car hit us. :-) ). This guy was passing and coming at us, making the move back into his lane with about a second to spare. It was a little surprising because we found the drivers in Turkey to be incredibly polite.

Day 9 Saturday Oct 9. to Pamukkale
On our way to Aphrodisius we stop after Nazili at a roadside stand and buy an apple, 2 figs, a tomato and a big bottle water, all for 2TL. We get to Aphrodisius where we are only going to have 3 hours before we have to continue on to Pamukkale. I wish we'd had more time. The amphitheater is nearly intact and quite large. You feel the life of the place here, the organization of a city. We turn corners, go from room to room across checkerboard floors and get a glimmer of what was.

We leave, sadly, and drive into a great folded moutainscape on our way to Pamukkale. The guy had squash-pumpkins the size of bach balls, he told us grow right there. We continue on and get expanse between twists and turns of the road, the feeling of distance, height, color, weathering-- a shifting plain holding hills, high hills, that have been forming over millenia. Pretty glorious. Eventually we enter the landscape that we had been seeing from a distance and climb over and across the folds. Then suddenly its all more arid, the trees change, the mountains arent covered in lushness. We missed the turn right after Saraköy, it was pretty badly marked, (unusual, because all of the signage had been great). But we caught our mistake and turned around to take what was now a right turn toward Pamukkale and Hieropolis (that was part of the problem, we werent prepared for a left exit off the road). We drove through villages toward what looked like chalk hills. We got a truly amazing parking spot just to the left of the entrance and started walking up. We de-shoed (mandatory, to preserve whats there) and made our way up this not-to-be-believed, mineral-watered, looking like brain coral, pooled and running passage. It looks like snow or foam, and (!) feels great on bare feet. We can't believe Hieropolis is RIGHT THERE at the top, and the sun is starting to set, and well, you can't do everything. We do climb around the Plutonium and smell the noxious fumes emanating from a hole in the wall. We walk down a path as the sun is setting and the travertines look pink and lavendar. Incredible color.

We find our hotel, the Melrose House Hotel, run by the hardest working family in Turkey! Mehmet and his wife are great hosts, there are cats everywhere, and our dinner is extremely yummy.

Day 10 Sunday October 10 the drive to Cappadocia
We left Pamukkale by 7 or 8, fully intending to take the shortcut road to çay that Mehmet told us about, but we missed it, and instead drove through an unbelievably smoggy landscape (worse than anything I saw in India) toward Ayfon. We got completely lost in in Ayfon, trying to find the road to Konya. It helped to be able to string Turkish together, and eventually we got enough guidance to get back on track. The landscape continued to be bleak and smoggy. After Konya the air cleared and we could see mountains! It took us 9 or 10 hours to arrive at Uçhisar.

We found our hotel, Kale Konak, and this place is a wonder. We couldnt find a reception desk, and asked a tour guide who happened by. She said there wasnt really a reception desk. Hmmm. Then suddenly, this guy pops up and he has a slip of paper in his hand with my name on it. This is Mehmet, the hotels guy Friday. He shows us the way to our room, an incredible gorgeous cave room with a round turkish bed dug into the rock, and another king size bed in the center of the room, and beautiful rugs, pillows and lamps. We were speechless.

Hassan is the owner and he is a gregarious visionary who built this place out of the rock. It feels like its been there for a million years, and every touch is a perfect one. There are tunneled passageways, a great 15ft long ancient wooden indonesian door that serve as a table in what feels like a banquet hall (where we picniced, at night, totally alone, feeling like we owned the place) and Hassan and Mehmet, who couldnt have been more wonderful and interesting. Mehmet speaks only Turkish (quickly) so whenever I could make sense or be made sense of I was happy! (note: 3 nights cost $370-- there was a discount for cash but we forgot to get it on our last day. )

The hotel is at the base of the tower which is the highest point in Cappadocia. We paid our 4TL, climbed up and got to the top by sunset and watched the whole valley illuminated by the setting sun.

Day 11 Monday October 11 Cappadocia
We drive first to Kaymaklı, a fascinating underground city where we check out niches and tunnels and the unbelievable ventilation system. We virtually need to slither through one passageway where there is a guy having a bit of a panic attack-- not a great spot if you're claustrophobic. We continue on to the Ihlara Valley, a gorgeous gorge. We park at the first lot and do the easy hike to Belisarma. It is a perfect day for a hike, beautiful blue skies and we climb up off the path into some of the caves you can see above you from the path. We spend a long time exploring. Its hard to imagine all of those christians under siege, hiding out in these spots! We get a taxi back to our car and make it back to Uçhisar in time for another sunset at the top of the tower. The guy selling the tickets remembers us and happily waves us in for free for Round 2. Nice!

Day 12 Tuesday October 12 Cappadocia
We drive to the Open Air Museum in Göreme which is really really crowded. The Dark Church and the Buckle Church are wonderfully painted and justify braving the crowd. We end up having to wait in a lot of lines which gives some more time to look at the crazy rock formations.

After we do the circuit we drive off back toward Uçhisar, and end up hiking down into a valley we find, thats off the main road. Wild grapes and quinces and apples are growing and the rock formations are wild. We follow what seems to be the path that water takes. Its overcast and I am a little worried about flash flood potential, but the rain holds off! At one point the rock wall curves, and Mark says something to me and it echoes, precisely, all the way across the canyon we are now in. We come upon two tortoises. We spend a few hours climbing around, then return our car in Urguep. We get a ride back from the agency, which was great. We get dropped off on the other side of the hill from where the hotel is, and we hike up past more caves, some where mules are being kept judging from the droppings, completely abandoned stone houses slowly turning to rubble. We wonder what happened here-- population exchange abandonment? We do ask a few people later on, but no one seems to know who left these houses, when, or why. We climb around til dusk, then make our way back to our hotel.

Day 13 Wednesday October 13 back to Istanbul
We are sorry to leave this incredible place! We get a shuttle for 20TL each to Kayseri. The guy makes a few stops, so our 8 :10 shuttle gets us to the airport at 9:30 for our 10:25 flight, but it all works. We land at Sabiha Gökçen around 11:30 (its a gorgeous brand new airport), get the Havas Shuttle (13TL each) that leaves at 12:30 and arrives at Taksim around 1:30. We hop onto the Metro to Kabataş, then back onto the #38 Zeytinburnu tram. We are happy to be back at the hotel Alp with the happy fellas at the desk. We take the tram back to Tophane and walk up aiming for Istiklal, but first wander around the neighborhood to the east, fulll of woodworkers and antique guys. It feels good and the roads are very steep. We end up back at the Mussel guys for a beer and a meze (a delicious yogurt/purslane salad) then continue to wander where we find another spot with a kerchiefed woman in the window rolling out dough. Men like to watch women work so of course Mark wants to go in. The guy in charge seems pretty shady compared to the hardworking woman, who just keeps rolling without stopping. We have a few mezes and drink beer out of tin coffee cups. As we are leaving I ask her in Turkish if she cooked everything we just had, and she said yes, and she's working 12 hours a day. "çok çaliş-- ve teşekkürler... nefis!" (A lot of work, and thank you.. delicious!)

Day 14 Thursday October 14
Pouring rain. We get to see the sidewalk gutters in action. Pretty good! We go to the mausoleums of Roxelana and Suleyman at the Suleymania mosque. There are kittens scampering all over the tombs. The windows are beautiful in both tombs-- tiny multicolored bits of glass.
We walk to Eminönü to get the boat to Asia. On the way we stop at a tiny pide joint (called "Kerimoğulları" -- i took a refrigerator magnet) and have a perfectly wonderful pide with egg and cheese and tomato and sausage. A couple of kids selling umbrellas come in to spend a little of the mornings earnings on something delicious. We take the boat to Kadikoy and get off mistakenly at Hyderpaşa, which is fine, since we get to see the train station. Feels great. Its full of bulk and the weight you feel when you enter train stations which always resolve themselves with lightness where the air meets the tracks. Asia is different. It suprisingly feels more western. Girls are showing skin and far fewer women are wearing headscarves. Not what we expected. My guess is that this ceases to be true as you go a little farther east.

We find our way to the fish market and fruit stands and everything is lively and beautifully displayed. It feels abundant! Further on the neighborhood is interesting, guys selling second hand stuff in deep shops, hipster jewelry joints, music shops, a passage of book stores with 2nd hand disco LPs and cassettes and art supply stores. We stop for a çay and a fat orange tabby jumps in my lap for a deep fully settled purring session. Our aim today is to find Ciya Sofrasi for an incredible meal-- and we do. We have Perde Pilavi a special rice dish with chicken in a crust, Quince and kofte, bitter melon in a hot yogurt soup, a few mezes, one a spicy cold meze of tomato and walnut and the best hummus we have ever had. Also Puf lavaş, a poori type bread with, i think, nigella sees. Afterwards they bring 5 spice tea and blackberry juice and sumac juice. We roll out of there, slightly stunned with happiness. We spent about 50TL (two beers, too) which is a small price for something soooo good. We try to walk some of this off and check out both the Greek and Armenian churches (beautiful). We are not in the main space of the Armenian church which is closed, but a smaller space with a great little John the Baptist ptg which feels almost Mexican. Delicate touch.

We love the boat ride back, and watch the gulls swooping into the churning wake of the boat, looking for dinner.

Day 15 Friday October 15
our last day....
We spend this day in the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, and flip for the incredible tortoise shell and mother of pearl Koran boxes. There are Koran covers from Kashmir, Selcuk metal lamps, great carved wooden doors, all kinds of unbelievable treasures. Again, we nearly didnt get here and are so glad that we did. We end the day by walking back up to Beyoğlu where we see the fabulous little collection of weights and measures at the Pera museum, and then back to Nevizade for one final dinner.

And now, we plan the next trip!

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