Funky tea names at the Grand Bazaar

All Things Turkish

I have taken too many great photos for me to not post here. I have not posted a substantial photo album to Facebook since last summer. Everyone knows how much of a pain it is to upload photos already, and if I’m uploading them to WordPress anyway, where I can actually get stats on how many people look at them, I find it useless to entertain my bored Facebook friends who probably couldn’t care less. Instead, I choose to reward readers of my blog with these amazing photos ­čśë

Because I like to think you care more.

Upon arrival, my friends and I┬átook a taxi to Taksim Square, where we would go the Hafiz Mustafa caf├ę to wait for my friend’s local friend to pick us up. Except the taxi driver decided to drop us off at some unknown location (as we now know as the Golden Horn), where we could not have looked more like lost tourists with our luggage, as we were led by two kind strangers to take some van-bus contraption crammed in with a bunch of strangers. Yes, the taxi driver claimed we could have walked, and yes, as we now know, it is possible to walk from where we were to Taksim Square, but it was at least a few miles…up a hill…and with our luggage…and no idea in which direction. It is safe to say that taxi driver was a dick.

Well, we eventually made it. And the servers at the caf├ę were impossible not to like! Seeing that we were carrying such heavy luggage around, they took us to the back where we could have more room. We tried asking the servers for their recommendations, but their poor English made it difficult for them to understand that no, we did not want another menu in English, but what did they like? We found it hard not to laugh and thoroughly enjoy their efforts to understand and accommodate us.

At first, the server told me to get apple tea, so I went with apple tea. But then he said to try to pomegranate, but I still preferred apple, so I said that my friend would try that while I have apple. It wasn’t until the end when he asked how our teas were that I realized he had slight yet playful resentment at my choice of apple over pomegranate. He seemed to say that I had not chosen pomegranate, and therefore, I had missed out.

The tables were small, only fit for one or two people, so I sat at the table beside the ones my friends sat, with an awkward distance. Noticing this, the adorable server pushed the two tables together after taking our orders. I say adorable in the most platonic way, by the way. He was young, yes, but it was more that I found his efforts endearing.

Eventually, the local friend met up with us, and after taking a brief break at the surprisingly spacious apartment, we headed back to Taksim for our first authentic Turkish meal. Of course, the only pictures I took were of the desserts, which included chicken breast pudding. Yes, you read that correctly. Turkey has a sweet pudding that is made from chicken breast, topped with cinnamon. It’s not bad, but it’s not exactly good.

The next morning, we took a taxiÔÇöthis time with a much better driverÔÇöto breakfast near the Bosphorus Bridge at Caf├ę Nar. We enjoyed a thoroughly delicious and beautiful breakfast, after which we took another taxi to the Dolmabah├že Palace, where we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, and the only picture I managed to get inside is blurry. The palace was very impressive. Take my word for it.

Afterward, we headed to the Spice Market, or the Egyptian Bazaar. I have more about this day in a previous post, but here are some more photos, including a trip to the most famous baklava shop and walking down a popular street from Galata toward Taksim. That night, we took a long journey to the “Asian side” of Turkey to check out Incir Pub and meet up with some more local friends. No pictures from this experience unfortunately, but maybe it is better this way, since I ended up terribly bored by the end of it. With 10 days left of being 21, I hate admitting that I rarely have good times at bars and clubs anymore. Those few months in Shanghai were the Golden Period. Do I long for this Golden PeriodÔÇöone that essentially is going out several times a week yet still managing a full course load and interning? Not in Boston. It worked very well in Shanghai, but I would much rather stay in or do really anything else back here.

Compared to the previous day, the next day was quite hilarious in that it was Recovery Sunday. Instead of waking up early for a long day of tourism ending in late-night drinking, we didn’t leave the house until it was time for lunch. We walked to the closest mall to eat unhealthy burgers at the food court, walked to the biggest Starbucks we’ve ever seen (two stories, its own building, and a heated outdoor patio)ÔÇöonly for the WiFi that didn’t work for me, walked back inside to buy tickets to see “Chappie,” then actually buy Starbucks before going to see what ended up being a hilarious and entertaining film. It was an incredibly lazy day. We even ordered delivery for dinner. It could not have been a more amusingly chill day. Hey, we figured we still had so many days left. We could afford not doing much today.

“We should figure out what to do these next few days,” a statement we repeated that Sunday night. We made the unfortunate realization that a fantastic deal for a two-day tour at the Cappadocia hot air balloon attraction was sold out. We could have ridden in hot air balloons! Instead, with our local tour guide (my friend’s friend) at work, we explored Istanbul on our own.

The next morning, we headed to Taksim Square to try what we had wanted the night we were out and had the drunchiesÔÇöthe Turkish wet burger. Unfortunately, these are better eaten while drunk. We got a simit (Turkish bagel) immediately after and then took the subway to Topkapi. Amateur tourists, we took it all the way to the city of Topkapi, not the palace. But we didn’t make it so far without trying some Turkish ice cream and what ended up becoming my favorite drink next to bobaÔÇösahlep, or what I like to call schlep because it sounds funnier.

Soon, we made our way to the Grand Bazaar. Again, more about this experience in another post. Driven by hunger afterward, we made our way across the street and found ourselves being talked into getting free bread and tea at a restaurant. On our way out, the guy who had convinced us to enter talked to us some more. He couldn’t help but tell us that he has a British accent because he has worked with British people for a while. Oh, you do have a British accent. Great. He asked what we were doing that night and suggested he come along. He went so far as to ask for our WhatsApp but we ended up leaving with a lot of laughs about how my friends were taken except for me and how he had an eye on me from the beginning. I couldn’t stop laughing.

Alright, since this is getting to be so long, and I need to stop spending all the time I have left tonight blogging before school begins again tomorrow, I’ll continue┬áanother day.