Hostel to Hotel for duration of stay in Istanbul

Fresh Squeezed OJ for $1

Honey? Honey!

Fresh Liquid Yogurt on Draught

I checked out of the oven at 7am.  Walked down to the Tram stop and had a fresh squeezed OJ before boarding the Tram to the other side of Istanbul across the bridge. After checking in I complained the AC was not up to snuff but it was a weekend and the only thing they could do was move me but not until the next day. I had a good internet connection so went along with that.  Then I left for the Spice Market and more exploring.There David purchased exotic Turkish Delights, figs stuffed with walnuts, mulberries coated with pistachios , famous Turkish coffees , took some photos and returned to the Hot Hotel.  He went out that night to get a bite to eat and for a walk in the park when he was approached by a Turkish man that explained he worked at the University across the street.  It was summer and he supplemented his non income by doing private tours at reasonable rates.  David had no problem with that and had used services similar in other situations so agreed on 35 Euro for a full day of tours in the immediate area.  They were to meet the next morning at the restaurant outside of David’s hotel at 9:30 am.

Slow cooked Innards.

He showed up just as David was finishing breakfast . David felt a two half day tours better than one long day of walking in the heat.  He agreed and on the way to the first site, David noticed an advertisement for a similar restaurant as the one advertised in the NY Times that he wanted to go back to that evening. He asked the guide about the meat…was it pork and he replied it was the innards . OK…David was not going back for innards.  He asked about another restaurant he heard of in the new area that served only rice and beans and was famous.  The guide knew of it immediatly and they agreed to have lunch there after the morning tour.

Blue Mosque


First stop was the Blue Mosque..the largest in Europe.


 Muslims take absolution before entering the Mosque. They wash their face, hands and wrists, and their feet and ankles then take off their shoes and enter the Mosque.  The women do this on on the other side so the men are not aroused by the sight of their ankles. Tomorrow start of Ramadan where there is no sex or eating allowed after the sun goes up until it goes down. The goes for thirty days.  I believe my guide said the first night after the first day of fasting, everyone eats free and together.  Rich or poor , young or old,etc get together with their neighbors and share the first meal after the first day of fasting. Turkey is a Muslim state. The internet IS restricted throughout Turkey.  To what degree I’m not sure but no nudity or sex can be found. This restriction on sexual morals in a country where it is OK to have 5 wives and I am pretty sure they don’t have to be 18 to get married or have an arranged marriage, seems to be a contradiction. I think it screws up the natural desires of people when women go around completely covered in black in 100% heat walking behind their man.  I see children running up to Mannequins displaying western wear, such as a dress on the street, and grab the crotch of the Mannequin then go to the next and squeeze her breasts.  Suppressed sexual behavior causes deviant not natural results.  I am not Freud but he had a point.

The Blue Mosque was very impressive.  Next we toured the Hagia Sophia Museum which originally was a Christian Church , then a Mosque and now a Museum.  Also very nice.

Hagia Sophia

Stick in your thumb and twist for good luck.

Cistern with Marble Columns in Water

Then to end the tour for the morning we visited the ancient Basilica Cistern ,527AD ,that used to supply the water to the people.  It was under the Hadgi Sophia.  This was very nice because it was cool and COOL at the same time. Arabic background music in the background echoing throughout added a nice touch.

Yasar, David’s guide , took him to the restaurant Ali Baba for world famous beans and rice made with love. Served with the usual Garden fresh Organic Cukes, Tomatoes, with a little lemon and olive oil dressing and bread…they were great.  After, David made a point of saying he wanted to pay Yasar now for everything.  The 35 Euros or 85 Lira so he could settle it now rather than tomorrow.  Yasar agreed and David tipped him 15 more Lira and bought his lunch. Yasar walked him back to the hotel explaining he was a guest in his country and busksters were annoying so he would keep them away.  He also carried David’s bottled water or any things he might have bought.  He acted like his personal valet and bodyguard.

Large Pot is Beans 

Who could ask for more.

When David arrived , he had been moved into his new really cold room with a double bed , cable tv that worked, private bath, refrigerator and internet connection.  He was very happy, took a rest then went out to eat some hummus and relax with his book in the park. Sure enough a Buckster approached David and said as usual…Where you from?  You could say Egypt and he would say he used to live in Cairo…in this case it was Saratoga Springs N. Y.   He told David he would like to give him his card and David accepted, expecting him to hand it over.  That’s not how they work…you have to follow him to his office just across the street.  David explained he just wanted to walk in the park but the man insisted only one moment to get his card.   Then he walked in his fancy Carpet and Ceramic dish place and a boy popped out of nowhere with some Tea for David.   David said he had to leave and the man accused him of insulting him.  Now I will drink your Tea for you!  Please at least sit while I drink your Tea.  Don’t insult me further.  David walked out wishing Yasar his bodyguard had been there. He read a little in the park then went back to his hotel.

 The restaurant owner outside his hotel asked David to join him.  David had a beer and chatted with the owner for over an hour.  He also sold carpet and told David the differences between a Turkish carpet and the Turkish carpet David put in his dining room. It was interesting.  It was time to retire for another tour with Yasar.  The call to prayer went out but it was different this time.  Tonight was the start of Ramadan and 30 days of fasting from food and sex during the daylight. I could hear the call like a chorus of people chanting while in my room so threw the window open.  It lasted a few minutes then ceased but was very pleasant.

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