Istanbul Day 1.5

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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul
July 9th 2007
Published: October 22nd 2017
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Geo: 39.9439, 32.856

We're staying at the InterIstanbul hotel where things are pretty utilitarian, not like the beautiful, interesting, high-end places that we've been up until now. The room has four beds, a desk and a closet. The view is of someone's laundry. I'm hoping the shower will get fixed today, but we do have a tub. The kids love the elevator which has no safety gate between you and the wall as it moves up and down. Also, there is a rack of postcards in the lobby that feature pictures of scantily-clad babes and ancient, well-endowed male fertility staues. Those are worth some giggles.
The location here is very good. We are two blocks from the Grand Bazaar and maybe a quarter mile away from many of the other big major sites like the Blue Mosque.

Yesterday we walked around the Bazaar just a little and headed toward Topkapi Palace. On Sundays most of the Bazaar is is shut down. While we were by the palace, a man struck up a friendly conversation with us. We went back with him to his "house"/shop where he talked to us for a long time about how one should go about choosing a carpet. He was very smooth, friendly and personable, but we got away without making a purchase. We did keep his card in case one of our visitors is interested in carpets, because we thought he would be a good person to work with. Mike used the experience as a teaching tool in how good salesmen work.

We ate dinner at "El Torrito" which also has restaurants in Abu Dhabi and a number of other world hotspots. We needed a little break from kofte, I think. The rest of the evening we strolled a bit, had some ice cream and picked out a few things to do the next day: my big find was a laundry. We also found the hamam (Turkish bath) that had been recommended to me. We saw a new snack food here that we haven't tried yet. They grill corn-on-the-cobb out on the street on carts for 1 lira (about $.75).

The next morning we had our breakfast which was a little bit of a letdown after the lavish affairs we've gotten used to, still, it was perfectly fine. Josh was complaining that one of his shirts was too small so we said we could go look for a shirt over at the Bazaar. That took most of the morning. The Bazaar is huge, sprawling. The older, enclosed part is the expensive real estate and contains many higher end, higher margin stores like jewelry and carpets. All around the outside for blocks and blocks, there is a maze of other shops and barkers. There seem to be ghettos or districts for specific kinds of products. For instance, for a while were in the snaps, grommets and buttons district. Today we attempted to buy several things, but only ended up with a few. Alex got a little soccer outfit and a red t-shirt that looks like the Turkish flag. Josh's has a nanzar bonjuk on it with "Istanbul" underneath. I picked up a comprehensive Turkish/English dictionary for about $7.50.

After that, we had lunch and then people fell apart. When they hit the wall it gets very ugly very fast. So we headed back to the hotel for a little break. Sometimes it's hard not to get frustrated with them. They don't want to be out and about doing things, they want to be in the hotel room, but when they are in the hotel room they are bored and want to be entertained. I'm trying hard to be understanding.

During the kids' break at the hotel, we went out to pick up the laundry that we had dropped off to get washed. It was much more expensive that we thought it would be. I'll tell you, that is one of the more disconcerting things: some things are much cheaper than you would expect, others are much more expensive. I'm never doing laundry by the kilo again, unless I'm the one doing the charging!

The kids have now weighed in with their blogs. Kate types her own usually and Alex and Josh dictate theirs. I offer a few suggestions to help them keep their entries relatively tight, but generally just let them loose. I'm not sure that I have much to add to their colorful commentary. We really enjoyed chatting with the Pennsylvanian family. They have a daughter Kate's age and they went and hung out on a bench together. When we went to the restaurant that they suggested, we took a look at the menu and were a little taken aback at the prices. The manager told us that Mike and I could each have 3 courses and a drink for 25 YTL and the kids would be half that. I told him that there was no way we could eat that much food. So he told us we could order whatever we wanted and he would knock the bill down by half. Crazy! It's impossible to tell which prices are fixed and which are flexible.

I think we may end up, regretably, skipping or postponing Troy. It's probably a 6-hour journey from here each way and I don't think the kids can handle it at this point. We might be able to fit it in later, but I'm not sure. Josh was so pumped up about it after reading the Iliad, I'd hate for him to miss it. Tomorrow we have booked a guide for a day. Perhaps we can get some tips from him.


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