Welcome to Day 6 of Janet and Randy's Turkish Adventure 2015
Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Woke up in the middle of the night for some reason, and couldn't get back to sleep for a bit. Maybe it was the Turkish tea and Turkish coffee we had yesterday afternoon.
Finally got back to sleep, and didn't wake up until 9:30am. So, we got up, showered and headed down to the hotel breakfast buffet. I thought it closed at 10am, but when we got there, I saw it was open until 11am, so we didn't have to rush quite so much.
Had our breakfast, then decided to head out to go back to the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque (visiting the inside this time). When we arrived, we couldn't go to the Blue Mosque because it was prayer time. So, we went into the Hagia Sophia.
There was a bit of a line-up, but it went quite quickly. The Hagia Sophia is an impressive building, but close to a third of the main floor was under renovation(restoration) and behind scaffolding. Also, for some reason, there were few lights turned on, so it was very dark and it was hard to see some of the architectural details. There was a second floor that we went up to, and there were more windows there, so at least a person could see the details better there. The inside did look amazing, but it was all in the dark. Only once we took the photos could we see the intricate details of the interior. If this is the case, it defeats the purpose of being there in person... overall I felt very underwhelmed.
After we were finished at the Hagia Sophia, we went to a nearby store where we had seen a rug that we liked. Unlike the typical Turkish rugs, this one had a pattern of the blue Eye on it, and we liked it. This time we actually asked a salesman to help us, and we were told that it wasn't a rug, but actually a bedspread. However, it was a very thick bedspread, so we thought we would buy it anyway to use as a rug at our front door.
They had the bedspread in a couple of colours - red and orange. We noticed a pillow cover in a blue colour that we liked - but they didn't have a bedspread(rug) in that colour. However, the salesman made a call and said that if we could wait one hour, they could get one made for us. Wow, that's pretty quick. We said sure, and that we would go grab some lunch while we waited.
We went across the street to a restaurant called Seven Hills. It wasn't cheap, but it had amazing views of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque (and of the Bosphorus). It was sunny and warm out, so it was worth the price to sit out the terrace and enjoy the view. We ended up ordering some grilled shrimp. They cost 25 lira (about $13) each, so we ordered 4. They asked if we wanted the shrimp put on a single plate, and we said sure. We should've asked for separate plates, because the shrimp came out with some greens, half a raw onion and half a potato (thankfully the potato wasn't raw). So, since we were sharing, we got a quarter of potato each. It wasn't hugely filling, but the shrimp were tasty, and we were enjoying just being up there. We were definitely paying for the view.
Once we were finished, we went back to the shop and they had our 'rug' ready for us. That was actually quite impressive service. By this time the Blue Mosque was open for visitors again, so we headed over there next. This time the line was quite small, so we were inside quite quickly.
Spent some time in the mosque taking pictures, then decided to head back to the hotel to drop off our purchase and the big camera. Then it was back out again - to go to the Grand Bazaar. We thought we might find some souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar, but it was just shop after shop selling pretty much the same thing and being hassled the entire time. "You want Carpet !" they kept saying to us. Actually no, I don't want a carpet, and said so, the shopkeepers were amazed that we didn't want a carpet. The only thing we did buy was some chocolate baklava from one pastry shop.
After a bit of wandering, we were a little tired and hungry (as our lunch wasn't overly filling), so we decided to sit an an outdoor cafe just outside the Grand Bazaar. We ordered some apple tea and some dessert. I don't know what was up with the service, but it took almost half an hour for our tea and dessert to arrive. In the meantime, another table of 4 had arrived, eaten and paid. I had to flag down one of the multitude of servers that were basically not doing anything, and he quickly apologized. But still the tea took a few more minutes to hit the table. While we were sitting there waiting, we had 5 different guys come up to try to sell us perfume, and 3 trying to sell us socks. Each vendor seemed surprised that we didn't want to buy these things. What? Do I have smelly feet ?
After getting some more energy from the food and tea, we ventured back into the market. So many carpet salesmen that are trying to sell you Turkish carpets. They wouldn't believe us that we didn't want to buy a carpet as "Everyone wants a carpet". We had to just keep walking or we would still be there trying to convince them that we didn't want a carpet. Dude, I just bought a bedspread and am using that for a carpet !
While wandering through the Bazaar, we overheard one conversation, apparently someone was asking the shopkeeper "Do you have good prices?" I can give you a number of guesses as to what the response to that question would be... and they all end up with the same result... Of Course the shopkeeper is going to say yes !
We had plans to meet up for supper with the group of people that we had our food tour with. We originally thought we could just take a cab from the Grand Bazaar. But since we had time on our hands, we decided to just start walking there. It was a good thing we did - as there was some big accident and the traffic was at a complete standstill. It took us about half an hour to walk there. It was a very easy walk and we really never left a crowd of others that were going the same direction.
We met at a restaurant called Sur Ocakbasi which Anthony Bourdain went to on one of his shows. This was in a nice local area that didn't seem to be frequented by too many tourists. Each of us decided to order a dish, and then we all shared. The owner also sent out a couple of other dishes (on the house), so we had a lot of food to eat. We had a great time visiting with Charlene, Lionel, Alison and Mike, and hope to keep in touch with all of them. The total bill for 6 of us was very close the the amount that we paid for 4 shrimps at lunch. Ya, go figure.
After the meal, we walked to the closest tram and headed back to the hotel - arriving around 10pm. It had been a long day, and we had walked about 10 miles, so we pretty much went straight to bed.
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