Saturday, December 6, 2014

Istanbul-Day Two

Day 2- 1st November 2014

It is must be said that we made all our daily plans while having our breakfast/lazing around/getting ready.

We decided to not go to the Sultanahmet area (all the main attractions are there- Grand Bazaar, Haga Sophia and so on) during the weekend so we would just stay in Taksim for the weekend and explore slowly.

Eli was the map reader, route decider because I could not read a map unless it was Google Maps.


We both declared that the biscuits we bought last night was perhaps Hera's gift to us. It was the moonpie kind, where there is some biscuit covered in marshmallow covered in dark chocolate. But this one had coconut flakes on it.

AMAYZING. (Any Malaysians reading this and planning to go to Istanbul, please email me so I can give money and ask you to buy a box of the biscuits)

We decided to look for Istikal Cadessi, a hip and happening avenue 1.4km long. How can we miss that place, right?

So, armed with a zipped up brown hoodie, gloves in my bag, money slipped into various pockets, digital camera, bottled water, wet wipes and everything us girls might need, we left the house at 8 am ish.

Note: Sport shoes/Converse would be appropriate. I used my gym shoes and I think have walked more in those 8 days  as compare to total usage before this.

We decided to walk, and just take lanes that looked nice. We enjoyed the architecture of these buildings and think we found the British Embassy .. but the lower floor was a tattoo parlour.

So maybe not. 

We came upon the Istikal Cadessi, without knowing that was the place, and walked down towards what will later be revealed as Taksim Square.

We saw 3 Starbucks.

Headbands. Eli bought 4.

"We should buy for the apartmenttt"

There were flower stalls near the Square selling fresh flowers and also headbands. A man stood with thermos of hot water and packets of tea/coffee for sale. A group  of policemen (very very attractive ones) were in the area and Eli pulled me back from gawking and taking their pictures.

Yes, by this time I had my camera out and was taking pictures of the pigeons. People were feeding them and I was trying to not get too close.

Taksim Square. People feeding pigeons.

A group of local kids asked for me to take a picture of them, and said "Internet" when I showed them.
A view from the monument in the picture below.

We walked a bit more, doubled back and took pictures at the monument before Eli chose to buy some of the headbands.

We then decided to "See if the coffee is the same here as back in Malaysia" and risked our lives to cross a busy street to go to the nearest Starbucks.

I can't even describe that cake we had. It has a banana taste, with some cream and walnut I think.

It was the most beautiful Starbucks I've been in. All wooden floors and amazing deco and furniture. 

And the pastry selection? I even drooled at the cake with chocolate covered raspberries on top when I did not even like raspberries.

Verdict: Coffee was better, and the heater in the Starbucks was good enough that I unzipped my sweater.

After an hour of people watching while sipping on my latte, we decided to continue "just walk down any lanes we want to." before grabbing lunch and resting for a while.

You should know that the next hour had no planned route at all. We merely stood at an intersection and go:

"Which one looks more interesting?"

Random hidden alley. Look at how pretty the building is.

And that has led to us coming across many interesting stores:

1. A store that sells pickled vegetables, all pretty in bottles. We went in out of curiosity and came out with a bottle of olive oil (me) and cranberry oil (Eli).

2. A small bookstore that sells Turkish books or English books translated into Turkish.

Eli, in her element. Its a pretty small store.

"I wish I can read Turkish."

"Buy a book you have the English version of then."

That was how I convinced Eli.

3. A small art gallery with a fat black and white cat resting on a cushion. The owner called it a physco. 

4.Gawked in front of the dairy sections of a supermarket and was tempted to buy something with eggplant and cheese.

5. A cafe with cushions outside for dogs and cats.

We then realised that in order to get back to the general area of the apartment, we had to do an uphill climb.

So we did, and came across another Mango and Zara. 

Lunch was decided to be bought from the cafe beside the kind Turkish grandmother's store because the night before, we had our noses pressed up against the display window.

The guy spoke English. Enough to explain every single dish there is and to ask if we wanted to eat there or to pack it up. With a hand motion of wrapping up.

What we had:

Food: Two rice, 9 stuffed mussels, eggplants, chicken, two sodas.
Total: 34 Turkish Lira if I am not mistaken.

Rice, chicken cooked in some kind of tomato sauce, eggplant cooked with beef.

We also before that bought stuffed mussels sold on the street side.

Note: Although our parents told us to not eat street food ... come on. We want to taste Istanbul, so we did.

The mussels, were stuffed with a kind of sticky rice cooked with herbs and they provided lemon wedges as well. AMAYZING.

While eating and moaning in delight, we decided to rest before going out around 4pm to get dinner.

Rest = Me napping while Eli smoked and looked up the fish market in her guidebook. I helped a bit by asking Google what should we eat in Istanbul.

"It says Balik Pazari is the place to go. Fish market that is in one of the lanes perpendicular to Istikal Cadessi."

We both looked up Google Maps and somehow, read it differently. Like, totally differently.

We also at that point of time did not know that the Cadessi is:

1. 1.4 km long
2. Has about 3,000,000 visitors on a weekend day.
3. Has about 4 Starbucks, 4 McDonald's, 3 KFC, 2 Burger King.

I am sure you can guess what happened.


Yeap, we got lost and walked around a lot. Before we decided to walk the opposite direction, and further on. Before finally stumbling into it.

Let me tell you that while we were searching, we had to power walk because if you didn't, you might just get trampled by the crowd. The number of people left us breathless and we had to stop at the sides to catch our breath.

Note: Amount of hot guys were astounding too.

We walked down the sloping lane, surrounded by seafood restaurants and fishmongers. There were few other lanes from those, and one was mostly for bars.

Common tourist gifts. But, I was worried on how to fit these in my luggage.

We stopped at a store that sell teas, bowls and spices, and Eli, using her charms and language skills, asked one of the attendants where are the shisha bars.

Note: The guy was interested in her coloured contact lenses.

"Are you hungry yet, Hanis?"

"Nope. Shisha time?"

"Yeah. The guy said from the Balik Pazari arch, go left for 250 metres, and it is on the right."

Seeing as we are not professional walkers, we were stumbling blind guessing the distance. 

We were giving up and decided to stop at a corner into a lane for a breather when, as the theme of our trip, we found the place by accident.

There were very comfortable sette chairs for us to sit on. Eli ordered apple shisha, and I decided not to break my shisha cherry.

1. Mama will kill me.
2. The cold was already giving me pre-asthma attack symptoms.

But man, the smell of the shisha was so good that I was closing my eyes and inhaling the scent.

While Eli was trying to choose the shisha she want, I had my phone unlocked in my hand, and what the waiter did and this is pretty normal there apparently, took my phone and logged into the cafe's wifi and typed in the password.

Imagine the look on our faces when he took my phone.

Most cafes and restaurants has Wifi and if the waiter does not grab your phone from your hand, just ask them if they have wifi and they will be happy to type in the password.


It was warm and juicy, and really hit the spot. Eli had cinnamon tea, really strong. We enjoyed sitting outdoor, at 5pm (dark already), enjoying the cold and warmth of tea.

Then, we got hungry.

We went back to the seafood lane and went into a cafe, all warm and bright and decided to order:

Fried Mussels and Calimari Rings.

They came with a garlic creamy sauce, and of course there was free bread on the table and a bowl of pickled small peppers.

"Surely not cili padi (spicy small peppers us Malaysians love)." - Famous words said by Hanis before she bit into one.

It was really really spicy.

The food was really filling and we stumbled back home, proud of ourselves.

I was still jetlagged so by 8pm I was snoring in bed, and wide awake at 3 am (9 am in Malaysia). This was the pattern for half of the trip there.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Confession No.69

And oh how the stars

 had all fallen out

Broken and glistening

with the promises

He had whispered

Into her ear.


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