Friday, May 01, 2009

Istanbul - Day 3

A more quiet day today. We packed up and stored our luggage at the hotel and made a last stab at Sultanahmet. This included a visit to the tomb of the areas namesake Sultan Ahmet.

At one point we tried to find the spice market but failed miserably. It may sound silly, but I really am proud of my 'Souk Sense' and failing to find it really upset me. We wound up going in circles. Had a great meal and got shortchanged. Frustrated, I wanted to call it quits. But with another check of our guidebook and with a few landmarks we managed to locate the street we wanted. Our reward? No actual spices. But we did find the street my partner Thomas and I visited 7 years ago on my first trip to this city. Shop after shop of silk scarves. We did some pre-haggling and are confident we can get even better prices later of when we are shopping in earnest.

Feeling better we departed the bazaar, made out way back to the hotel and were informed of the riots.

Riots? "Don't go to Taksim today. Very bad" Mehmet said, looking serious.

"Is May first, workers day. Lots of protests. Communists, anti-communists, Labor party everybody. Lots of business closed".

This was, of course, exactly where we had to go. After some asking around we located a taxi to take us across the Bosporus so long as we went around the protests. No problem says us.

We drove along the shores of the Bosporus, the ancient city walls to our left, green parks with scored of people fishing and picnicing on the right. Our speed was absurd as it is in all foreign countries, but less alarming than Egypt. Here, drivers generally stay in one lane. The new hotelo, the Dedemon is large and mdern and we dislike it. No charm, no coziness. The pretentious concierge told us that if we could wait, the restaurant would be open in half and hour. Bah! We were hungry. So it was off down the street to the Bambi Cafe. Our sandwiches were a kind of gyro panini with french fried in them. Awesome, and cheap to boot.

I've been unable to find a three to two prong adaptor for my netbook so I'll likely be posting from my iphone for a bit. I used skype for iphone and made a call to my brother in the US and it worked fairly well given the crappy signal in our hotel room.

We met our tour guide Mustapha, or "Mus" as he wants to be called. Not as charming as our German guide. Mixed group of Americans, Canadians and lots of Aussies. Oddly, the Americans are the most foreign sounding of our group with several asians and a woman who may be cuban.

We'll be covering 2,200 miles in total this trip. And it begins tomorrow at 6am. Blogger acting a bit weird and not uploading pics. Might be our net connection. But rest assured I'm snapping lots of pics.

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