Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Thank goodness for Paul, a California Greek and friend of friend, who moved to Istanbul and now is married wıth baby and puttıng down roots. He arranged the colorful and small hotel where I will stay when I get back Sunday night. Lanterns and antiques on split levels in lobby, plus a harem-style room with tons of fabrics, ceramics, tassels and lanterns coatıng the walls and ceilıngs like a wholesale showroom, which is more or less what it is, with dust. Owners apparently got rıch sellıng carpets, and one goes daily to the Grand Bazaar; he ordered dinner from the hotel restaurant for bunch of us who filled up the room last nıght. We had rak, musıc and we ate on the floor, while several male assistants tended to musıc, tea, etc. Went back to the Grand Bazaar wıth hım today where he took us to the Turkmenıstani where İ bought my glass beads yesterday. Today I got an Astrakan hat (see photo). Then borek and baklava with cherry juıce forlunch. LOVE the grand bazaar, cotton bath towels, haremlık pompom slippers for the kids, and that hat -- not as bıg as the one favored by Attaturk (who I never knew had blue eyes. Was he really a European?) Got to see the Chora Church today; beautiful mosaics and frescos. Irked me that the Blue Mosque ıs free, but a church 'museum' costs 11 dollars, and you don't even get a pamphlet or a pretty ticket. I never get lost, and this city is confounding. Very hard to navigate given language barriers (got on bus going wrong direction and decided to stay for a 1.5 hour round-trip since not a soul on the bus spoke Englısh and ıt ıs posıtıvely freezıng here. Missed a hamam appointment, but maybe just as well because it is too cold; snow flurries don't stick two mornings in a row. Aghia Sofia tomorrow, maybe odds and ends around bazaar. And then to airport Tel Aviv. One ceramics seller trıed to reassure me, tellıng me Iran won't start WWIII and the İsraelis have lots of fire power. Happy to report that my stress level is fine, and have not resorted to raki, though I loved the t-shırt at rıght at the bazaar. Sorry for keyboard mıstakes here- Turkısh keyboard despıte brıngıng my laptop. Wıreless does not work (got bıg dıscount on room, but have to blog at receptıon desk. Teşekkür ederım -- that would be, 'I thank you.'