Day 07 – Istanbul – Week 1 recap + Sweets, Sirkeci Station, The New Mosque, Spice Bazaar, and Hamam Take 2!

So I ended the last entry with – Tomorrow we head to Dolmabahce Palace!

Well that is true because now – Tomorrow we head to Dolmabahce Palace!

I looked at the schedule and needed to rearrange a little to be sure to get to everything in a timely fashion.

We started out the day by pickup up our laundry from the local cleaners – not bad – 10TL per KG and we had 10KG so about $60 to do a duffel bag worth of clothes – it needed to be done and he folded everything so nicely.

Our first real stop after breakfast was to Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir – this family owned sweet shop has been making Turkish Delight (and selling it from the same location) for over 200 years! It’s a must see and they give samples.  If you really like samples you go down the street to Koska where its just a candy store from hell – samples at every counter – everything is clean and sleek and well lit.  Very yummy morning.

Not far from the candy shops is Sirkeci Station which was once the terminus for the Orient Express that carried people from Paris to Istanbul – it ran until a few years ago but fell victim of fast trains and of course airplanes.  They have a great little museum there (free in fact) that really had some wonderful artifacts about the Orient Express.

Next we headed to Yeni Camii aka The New Mosque – which is very crowded and I had never been to before.  It is called The New Mosque even though it is about 400 years old.  Inside it is gorgeous I mean almost as nice the the Blue Mosque.  I think people go to the Blue Mosque and skip all the others but they really do each have their own flavor of style and decoration.  It is very active not just with tourists but with worshipers as well.

We probably spent 20 minutes right outside of it photographing the pigeons. There were TONS of them and the little kids were running in and out of them causing them to flock up and fly around – it was half comedy routine half horror film.

The real stop for the day was the Spice Bazaar.  This was probably more fun than the Grand Bazaar (no, not because they feed you) because it is more engaging and they really know how to put on a show concerning spices and teas and sweets.  They sell other stuff too and right around the Bazaar is a good place to get clothing and kitchen goods and we left with many many bags of stuff.

The trams can be very full in the afternoon and the taxis annoying so we braved the long walk back to the hotel.  20 minutes but shop lined the entire way.

Yesterday, we passed a little Hamam called Kadirga that looks nice (and old) and I asked  him if I could film inside and while I am not sure if he understood fully he said yes.  So today we came back and for 50TL each got a traditional Hamam.  I can only speak to my experience as Amanda requests that if you want to know what hers was like (and are a friend) she might share her story.  Mine was hysterical.  The old guy who was doing my hamam thought that the waterproof video camera and tripod were the funniest thing he ever saw – and though he didn’t speak any English he kept checking the shots for me and cleaning off the lens (with water when it fogged).

He must have thought it was for TV or something because he spent a TON of time on me and did each step twice – very exfoliated and very scrubbed clean – they wrapped me in towels and sent me back to Amanda who was already done and in the waiting area.  Highlights of this are bound to make the final film (and no you don’t see anything icky!).

What a day – hell – what a week!

Oh and one last story – so at breakfast I needed to use the bathroom.  At the restaurant the men’s room was locked so he pointed me to the ladies room. This was one of those places where it is a single toilet for each gender so what did it really matter.  Well when I was done I went to flush the toilet and the button on the wall didn’t do anything, so I pressed another button and it didn’t do anything.  I pressed a third button and this fountain of water comes shooting out of the toilet (just misses me) and splashes everywhere.

So I quickly clean it up – find the correct button (flush the toilet) and as I hurry out of the room – this lady is waiting with her daughter and giving me the stinkeye for using the ladies room – I try to explain that the guy told me I could use it but she didn’t speak English and I just shuffled off thoroughly humiliated!

Week 1 Recap:

Day 1 – Sunday (1/2 day)
Just relaxing around.

Day 2 – Monday
Shave #1
Blue Mosque
–Egyptian Obelisk
–Constantine Obelisk
Column of Constantine
The Grand Bazaar
Sahaflar Carsisi – The Book Bazaar

Day 3 – Tuesday
Hagia Sophia
Basilica Cistern
Dinner with Freedheims

Day 4 – Wednesday
Hagia Sophia Mausoleum
Hagia Irene
Topkapi Palace + Harem

Day 5 – Thursday
Shave #2
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art
Istanbul Museum of Archeology

Day 6 – Friday
Bucoleon Palace
Yedikule Fortress
Theodosian Walls
Dinner Music & Dervish Dancing

Day 7 – Saturday
Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir
Sirkeci Station
Yeni Camii (The New Mosque)
Spice Bazaar
Kadirga Hamam

Facebook users be sure to like us at From Castle to Castle and you can follow us on Networked Blogs.