A DAY IN ISTANBUL - DAY 1
After a year of absolutely no travel , one can only imagine my excitement as my vacation dates drew nearer. I was finally going to visit three places that had been on my travel list for the longest time - Pamukkale, Cappadocia and The Local Cave House. With a bare minimum of three hours of sleep and a rough previous night, Krithika and I boarded our flight to Istanbul early next morning - drunk, obviously. On landing, I am not sure if it was the hangover or us just being our usual lost selves, we had a moment of temporary confusion at the airport followed by a hilarious cab ride with the most entertaining cab driver, before we checked into the cutest room at Haus Suites around 9 PM.
With our sleep finally caught up and our itinerary for the day looking fine as it ended at Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam, we set off to Namli Gurme for some Turkish breakfast late next morning. On passing through the narrow streets around Galata tower and imbibing the character of the place made me realise how much I had missed Europe. There was some sense of familiarity and beauty everywhere. The not so kind waiter at Namli Gurme seemed to be losing his patience as we pointed at all the pictures on the menu in a vain attempt to order breakfast. After what seemed like forever of pointing at pictures and trying to communicate with the Turkish gentleman and some accidental tripping over the counter - not me, Krithika - we managed to get Bal and Kaymak, Sucuklu Yumurta, Turkish tea and some cottage cheese & beef satay whose Turkish name google doesn’t seem to know.
Soft cold breeze brushed across our faces as we took to the pedestrian lane on leaving the restaurant packed with natives, to enjoy the beautiful gloomy weather and also shed those extra calories from devouring the most delicious Bal and Kaymak. We were headed to Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace, chattering obliviously past the men fishing by the Galata bridge. Later in the evening, boggled by the historic architectural opulence, we enjoyed a grand image of the rains slapping across Istanbul - a city rich in monuments of whose walls contained layers of history - from the panoramic rooftop at Seven hill. This, accompanied by beer and salmon to help with the chills from the downpour made the evening all the more blissful. While on our way out, the sales representative at the store below revealed a humongous collection of luxury counterfeit bags that ranged from Himalayan Birkins to Capucines. This expansive collection of counterfeit bags would only be a fraction of what we would encounter at the Grand Bazaar the next day.
Not wanting to stay in on a Halloween night despite being drained from the day, we found a
warm and cozy club called Nardis Jazz club. Around midnight, dazed from the wine and good jazz music at the expats-filled club, we hurried back home in the pursuit of escaping the drizzle when we were stopped by a young man who very directly asked to come home in his not-so-fluent english. Taken aback by his forwardness, my reaction was to run. Literally. Bravery has never been my strong suit in a foreign land. Nor was my idea to run down a wet slope in 5 inch heel boots.
To be continued here.