Day 3 - 2nd November 2014.
"Did you know there's an average of 3 million visitors at Istikal Cadessi on a weekend day?"
"WHATTTTTT AND WE WALKED THROUGH THAT?!"
The morning started with us cooking some sausages that we bought from the Turkish grandmother. Along with some bread and cheese. It was a way of cost efficiency for us.
We decided to go towards Galata Tower, on the other end of Istikal.
It was about 9am when we left, and Istikal was still all empty apart from people like us, and the shopkeepers.
Note: The amount of cats that distracted us everyday is a lot. Mainly cause Eli is a cat lady and Turkish cats are so fluffy and friendly. Stray Turkish cats like me more than my own.
As we walked further from Taksim Square, the shops became more traditional and there were fresh juice shops, where they press it in front of you.
Eli: I want promegranate.
The apple juice was very yummy, but .. the promegranate was very acidic to me that I coughed and my eyes teared up. But Eli really enjoyed it.
We then got to a crossroad, and had no idea which one to take. Help came in the form of a man sitting at a table in front of this Cultural Museum.
He spoke English.
And was selling tickets for a Whirling Dervish show later that day.
Imagine the look on our faces when we saw the note stating "Sunday only". We glanced at each other, made some comments on how it must be our luck to walk by here today and BAM bought two tickets.
"Where is Galata tower?"
"You go straight and it would be on your right. You will not miss it."
The sun was bright, the air was cool and thankfully we did not miss the tower. Nor the long line to go into it. We took pictures and decided to skip paying the entrance fee and climbing up the stairs.
We walked down another alley, more quiet and peaceful. I stopped by a grocery store and bought a drink I keep seeing people drink over there.
It was a .. salty yogurt drink. An acquired taste. Well liked by the locals. (Apparently this is one of the drinks to try if you're daring enough.)
I managed 2/3 before declaring defeat. I did not acquire the taste for the drink.
Eli spotted a place overlooking the sea between the two continents, so we walked over there, crossed a main street and basked in the sun. But then, we wanted to get even closer, so we walked down a pavement beside the busy road. It was about 10 mins downhill before we had to cross two busy roads and found ourself at a park/small pier area.
There were people waiting to get on a boat, and we bought some nuts and sat on a bench while watching an old man feed the pigeons.
THEN IT HAPPENED.
Remember how in Istikal you can walk any alley, as long as it is in the right direction, you can just cut through anywhere and arrive where you want?
Well, never ever use that logic away from the Istikal Cadessi.
We got lost, because we decided to use another way.
"We can just go uphill here, then cut to the right and go up and voila."
Voila my foot.
It was okay until we found ourself in a part of town we have never seen before. But there were shops, I remember looking into a kitchen appliance store and ogling the big mixer.
We then decided to climb uphill between some residential flats to cut through.
It felt ghetto. Old women looked at us from their windows while we huffed and puffed up the cobblestone path.
We got to the top, take a left and it was a dead end.
Cue: mortified laughter.
I was ready to roll and die before going back down when we looked the other direction and saw that the road led out.
Cue: relieved laughter.
It took us another 30 mins of walking before we got to a cafe 10 mins from the apartment.
The cafe was recommended by the apartment owner, for being cheap and it was. What I had was, two grilled boneless chicken thighs, salad, rice and grilled vegetables. Add on a bottle of Coke and it was around .. 12 Lira.
I promptly fell asleep in the apartment before Eli woke me up to go to the show. It was a scramble of getting ready, and we both power walked to the place, dodging the crowd of Istikal and basically, just being badass.
The show was .. amazing. It was moving. It left me breathless as I listened and watched. As they whirled around. It went on for 45 minutes and it was 40 minutes of ... I felt like I was part of something great.
We then decided to make it an early night because the next day would involve a trip to the Asia part of Istanbul.
Power walked again and then we saw it.
We saw something that made us cross from one side to the other, risking our limbs through the Sunday night crowd.
It was a window display, full of chocolate bars.
Let me describe the scene in detail.
White, dark and milk chocolate bars. With assorted kind of nuts; almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios.
And it did not look like chocolate bars with nuts. It looked like nuts with chocolate binding them together.
And we stared, wondering if the display is a lie because surely ... no one will sell that much nuts in a bar of chocolate.
I peeked in to look at the price and squealed:
"The big bar is 14 TL"
Note: Funnily enough, both of us was quite restrained from buying sweet stuffs over there for some reasons. We kinda regretted that the moment we got home.
We got dinner from the same place we had lunch, but I decided to get pilaf rice from a cart outside.
Pilaf Rice Cart:
A cart found on the sidewalks, filled with pilaf rice, chickpeas and pieces of grilled chicken. A serving of rice is 2TL, and they will sprinkle pepper and offer mustard. Add on chicken and it will cost around 5TL. Its a simple, plain but fulfilling meal.
While waiting for the man to wrap up my rice, two little kids stared at the food hungrily. They looked like the beggar kids we see at the Cadessi.
My heart was tugged. I asked the man to wrap up another serving for them. He raised his brows, nodded and did it right away. I waited, just in case.
The little boy got demanding, asking for tons of pepper and mustard.
Dinner was enjoyed at home, in a heated up apartment while we made plans for the next day.