Explored Istanbul with a Local!
On my last full day in Istanbul I had planned to visit the sites that I'd missed. I mentioned it at our "graduation" dinner and one of my Turkish friends from the program said she'd love to putter around the city with me. Sweet!!
We went to the Roman Cistern, which was surprisingly pretty and peaceful. I'd love to hear an early music concert there...
(Note: new Mavi jeans in photo)
Then we went to the Archeology Museum, which had some really stunning Roman sculptures and this incredible building (which used to be part of the palace). I could have spent months looking at the tiles. The patterns were so inspiring, too - I think some of the plainer ones might need to become colourwork on a hat.
Next, we had lunch at the Sultanahmet Köftecisi. Apparently the best in Istanbul, and my friend's favourite! Delicious koftes (meatballs), hot peppers, white bean salad, red spicy stuff, and Ayran yogurt drink to cool it all down. I could truly eat this meal for lunch every day and not get tired of it.
Then we took ourselves over to a somewhat random corner of the city to visit a mosque, Fatih Cami, which my brother had recommended. He was right, it was stunning. I think I was the only tourist in the whole place. It was also pouring by this point!
We walked down through a local Saturday market, featuring a surprising number of lamb carcasses and cheeses and spices and locals shopping, then climbed up (er, hopped a low fence) to get a panoramic view of the city. It was still bucketing at this point so my pictures aren't great!
We needed reviving so my friend took me to her favourite snack place, Vefa Bozacısı. They serve some sort of fermented bulgur custard drink/pudding, with cinnamon and roasted chickpeas (which cannot be bought at Vefa but must be procured across the street in a little shack, obviously). It was vaguely lemony and really rather tasty. Meltem polished off one and a half, and then bought a big jug of it to bring home to her family for dessert that night.
The bag of chickpeas from over the road:
It was delicious. And I sat two seats away from where Atatürk sat when he was there, so that's now my claim to fame.
As we were leaving, Meltem said, "oh, they love it when you take their picture!" Much obliged, sir.
And a final rainy picture of flags as we were waiting for the bus to take us to Chora Church (we gave up and hopped in a cab as the bus was delayed).
Even I, who have been accused of Overdoing It On Vacation, was zonked at the end of the day! We visited three museums, two mosques, a church, a market, rode 2 trams, a bus and a taxi, and walked over 20,000 steps according to my fitbit. Brilliant fun, though!