Çok uzun benim sevgili Istanbul . April 29th, 2012

Posted: August 6, 2013 in Past Trips
The Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet

The Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet


Three days later and it feels like I’ve lived two weeks.  Granted, I tend to pack a lot in, but wow.  Istanbul is just full of wow.


Friday, I went to the ‘old city’ and Sultanahmet.  It had its share of flimflam… which was kind of a disappointment.  BUT the Four Seasons boy met me over there and I did get to see it, so I shalt not complain.  But there were tsk tsks at me (which surprisingly happened no where else) and guys trying to get me to ‘tour’ or ‘take a picture of’, etc.  Oh, and I did find the Galatasaray Store.  They were so sweet and confused at this blonde’s enthusiasm for authentic gear.  😉  Needless to say, despite the blue beautiful mosque, I didn’t really need to spend much time in the old city.  Yet, I was kind of stranded there.  Istanbul traffic is definitely a bit of an issue.  Seriously.  The ONLY downfall I can pin on this otherwise fabulous city!


I have noticed that the Turkish, or at least the Istanbulese (?) are really into playing American pop, rock: old, new… you name it, but it’s all covers of songs you’ve heard before.  It’s everywhere.  In the $2000 a night Les Ottomans, at Otto in Pera, or at the cafe street side in the ‘Chanel’ shopping area.  Strange.


Equally interesting is the amount of stray cats I’ve seen.  Not many dogs (none stray), but a bunch of cats everywhere I look.  Kind of bizarre.  Makes me think of Cleopatrian times and Egypt or something.  As I was in traffic trying to get out of old city on a Friday night, it started pouring rain.  Where did those stray cats along the road go?


Yesterday I got my first ever hammam.  Wow.  I can’t imagine a man having one!  I was afraid MY nipples might be hard (they weren’t) but jeez, what an incredible experience.  If I ever get rich, I will have a daily hammam person.  She even offered to shampoo my hair, which I declined because it wasn’t Aveda.  And, it seemed a bit much.  She was already boob to boob with me (hers barely covered, me… well, um, naked) when she wrapped the towel around me!  But then came the body scrub… followed by massage.  These Turks are amazing.  In every way.  I was a little outside my comfort zone at first but realize it’s just their way and it was totally legit.  Leave your modesty at home!


Last night, I wandered out the opposite direction from my hotel than I usually go for taxi or to Istiklal Cd… and found a hidden cobblestoned vibrant and fabulous little area!  Very ‘left bank Paris’.  I’m amazed at this place, even more today than I was three days ago.  I WILL be back to Istanbul and highly recommend it.  After dinner, while the Four Seasons guy was texting me, “where are you Liz” and “can I see you before you go Liz”, I wanted to go finally get the rest of my Turkish treats to bring back.  I already knew my spot on Istiklal Cd in Beyoglu.  The place was a zoo.  Think Las Ramblas (but not quite that hellish) in Barcelona.  I turned around and went home to my cozy Pera Palace with the uncomfortable bed and €16,50 movies like Footloose, the one with Kevin Bacon.


I couldn’t sleep this morning, so I got up early in anticipation of the pack job ahead.  My sneakers did not make the cut, but I run daily now so it was time for new anyway.  On my jog, I decided I would go back, pick up the rest of the treats, pack and head across the Bosphorus to the Asian side (it’s a lovely day), to a Design Hotel, Sumahan, and have brunch in Asia before heading back to the airport, which is across the Golden Horn.  Traffic yesterday didn’t seem so terrible so I figured Sunday would be no problem.  My favorite concierge told me that idea was a no-go.  Bummer!  So I decided to head to Levent for lunch at Ian Schrager’s new Edition Hotel.  Figured it must be pretty happening here.  NOT!  It’s very weirdly placed on a busy street, and empty!  I can’t imagine staying here!  I assumed there would be some cool rooftop place to have my last meal in Turkey, but here I sit at freaking Cipriani, of all places!  Oh how I hate ‘chains’.  Great tuna salad… but really?  And of course, traffic getting here was rather… uh-hem, congested.


So now it is time to head back to pick up my luggage, then over to the airport to shop duty free for as much Turkish wine as they’ll allow me, and pray they let me through security with all nine of my hand picked boxes of Turkish Delight, Turkish Baklava and fresh ground Turkish coffee (yes Jacs, I dialed you in).  This is not even counting the boxes of pomegranate tea and halva I squeezed into my check-in luggage.  Wish me luck!


Istanbul, with it’s perennial American song covers in the background (currently, some Hawaiian sounding version of “somewhere over the rainbow”), is so inviting and exciting, and diverse!  There is so much here!  I’ve just discovered a whole other world that is so up to date, safe, and AS good, not necessarily saying is, better than Paris… now how am I going to solve their traffic problems and learn to speak Turkish?!


I am looking forward to my flight tonight!  Turkish was THAT good.

Poor mangy cat

Poor mangy cat


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