Day 02 – Istanbul – The Blue Mosque, The Grand Bazaar, The Book Bazaar, and the Sultan Beyezit Mosque

While it is technically day 02 of the trip it certainly feels more like day 1 because the day you fly in is always a throw away day.  In fact as this is the first real day of filming I decided to only film things that I could do again in case we didn’t do it right.

Our first stop of the day was to get me a shave and a haircut.  I went back to the barber I had gone to last year and he was very happy to let us film him giving me a straight razor shave.  He remembered me and asked where the big guy (Tim) was.  Best haircut I ever got – and the shave was so close.

Amanda was having a fun time recording the carpet and other vendors trying to hustle me on the street – with the lapel mic getting such good audio she is going to follow me more and just ‘see what happens’ – some of it was really fun.

We went to the Blue Mosque which is awesome as ever but it really bothers me that many of the women who they make cover their heads, quickly remove the covering when they walk into the Mosque – not respectful.  I tried not to take too many photographs as I have 10,000+ from the last 2 trips of Istanbul alone!

On the way to the train we passed the ‘Milion’ – a ruin of a triumphal arch – I tried to read the sign for the camera – I am much better ad libbing.

We hopped on a train to go the Grand Bazaar and got off at the Column of Constantine.  Great pigeons there – a man from Saudi Arabia explained that the ones with 2 black stripes were really special pigeons only found in Saudi Arabia (even though I was looking at them here in Istanbul) and that they were normally only in holy places (even though they were here by the column).

The Grand Bazaar is huge and fun – I had so much fun looking around – and Amanda got some great footage of me shopping and haggling – reviewing the footage was hysterical.   In the old part of the Grand Bazaar I found a sun watch that I had seen last year – he wanted $1200 US for it! oof!  It will probably still be there next year!

Outside of the Grand Bazaar is spillover of clothes and other shops – the prices were ok but not as good as they were last year – still some amazing knockoffs of designer stuff could be found.  We headed to the Book Bazaar where the books are mostly in Turkish but they have illuminated manuscript pages and really nice prints.

Next to the Book Bazaar is the Sultan Beyezit Mosque which was very quiet (and very empty) – they can’t all be the Blue Mosque – but it was nice to see it (and a welcome shade from the hot sun).  Part of the Beyezit Mosque holds the Calligraphy Museum but apparently it has been under renovation for many years and was closed.

Our goal for the day was: The Hippodrome, A Shave, The Blue Mosque, The Grand Bazaar, and The Book Bazaar.

We didn’t shoot The Hippodrome but it is right outside the hotel so we can do that anytime – and we decided to head back before dinner.  On the side of the road there was a guy selling hand sewing machines that looked like staplers – I passed – but then I went back and got one.  It’s a toy.

For lunch we had a light meal of Kofte (meatballs) and we figured we would get a nice dinner.  We headed down towards the nicer restaurants and I stopped and said hi to a friend who owned a carpet shop that I had met last year.  He was very glad to see me and asked us to spend some time with him but I promised to come back later in the week instead – he invited us to visit his factory 30 miles outside of town if we want to film some carpets being made – we might take him up on it if it fits into the schedule.

There was a nice fish restaurant that listed prices of like 20TL for dinner and we said we would only eat in it if the feral cat that had been following us decided if was good – he walked in so we walked in – the guy thought this was funny (but then later kicked – and I meant literally kicked the cats out of his restaurant for begging).

They brought out a platter of raw fish and starter quoting these crazy prices like 120TL 90TL etc and we just wanted a little dinner – he wasn’t happy that we didn’t bite for the big fish and the service went downhill from there.  Thefgood was very good – I had the bass and she had the salmon – but we never saw the waiter again – well we saw him but he wouldn’t stop at our table.  He put us near the music and the band was traditional and fun but at most points one of them was on a cell phone (so the film is awful).   We ordered dessert of sweet figs and some samolina which was yummy and he brought the check which was 100TL (about $55 – and not too bad for a fancy fish dinner).  I put down 100TL and he came over took it and said very loudly “Service is NOT included”.  Now that’s fine but most places tell you that when you sit down – put it on the menu or even put it on the bill! All I had was a slip of paper in a black folder that said 100TL on it.  So he left the black folder on the table and as I drank my tea I closed it – and he came over and opened it and said again “Service is NOT included”.  So I said “I know” and opened up the folder and laid it face down – to show I wasn’t ready yet.  So I took out some money and put it in the folder and he came and snatched it up and walked off in a huff.

On the way back to the hotel we passed a nice looking restaurant that had all their prices listed – I think I will go there next time instead.

Back at the hotel we reviewed the footage – definitely getting our feet wet here – both of us were better after about the first hour.  I look forward to what tomorrow has to bring!

Oh and some pictures…

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