This morning I explored more of Istanbul's Old Town. I started by walking through the Grand Bazaar. It is a covered warren of over 4000 little shops selling a wide variety of merchandise. It reminded me of the Arab souk in Jerusalem, but vastly larger. I was pleased to see men selling tea from trays that they hold by gimbals in their hand. (See picture) I had heard about this and am glad to know that the tradition continues. After the bazaar, I walked over to the mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent. He was a 16th century contemporary of Henry VIII of England and he was the greatest Sultan in the history of the Ottoman empire. His mosque is the one I can see from my apartment window, so I was especially interested to visit it. The interior seems as large as the Blue Mosque, but more understated. I took a picture of my stocking feet while I stood on the carpet. One must remove one's shoes before entering any mosque and the carpet frequently has a pattern that encourages proper spacing among the worshipers as they all face Mecca. My next stop was the Istanbul Spice Market. It is similar
to, but smaller then, the Grand Bazaar and there are more food items there, especially colorful spices. (See picture) It was lunchtime when I left the Spice Market, so, on a whim, I boarded a ferry that took me to the Asian side of Istanbul. I sat on the top deck, enjoying the view, and eating my lunch. It only takes about 20 minutes to cross the Bosphorus. The Asian side is largely residential and there is little for the tourist to see, so I was there only half an hour or so before I boarded another boat that took me to a different ferry dock on the European side. On the way I snapped a photo of the first-ever intercontinental bridge that connects Istanbul's two sides. After landing in Europe again, I rode a funicular to Taksim Square, the heart of the New District. The main throughfare is pedestrian-only, except for the Nostalgic Tram that runs slowly from one end of the street to the other. I chose to walk and enjoy the sight of modern, bustling Istanbul. This area is full of 21st century retail stores, including many Western ones. I counted 3 Starbucks and even a Columbia
Sportswear shop. While I was in the area, I spied a barbershop and stopped in for a trim. It was the best haircut of my life! The barber trimmed my hair, trimmed my beard, trimmed my eyebrows, then used an open flame to singe the hairs on my ears! (My thanks to Rick Steve's guidebook for forewarning me about this!) Next he had me stick my head under a faucet and he shampooed and rinsed, then dried my head. He used two cottonballs to dry my ear canals. Lastly he applied a small amount of lotion to my face. The charge was only two dollars more than my regular barber, who only ever just trims my hair. It was a great cultural experience!
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