It seems this evening’s bedtime challenge will be mine. Getting to sleep may prove a challenge, not because of jet lag, but because of the loud music coming from a nearby location. It sounds like an open air version of a talent show, with a bizarre playlist of live performers trying to segue from traditional Turkish music, to a sax-dominated pieces of jazz, to a woman currently belting out the hopefully *not* prescient ‘Nessun Dorma’ (“none shall sleep.”)
I’m in a hotel in Taksim, and as we’ll be spending the rest of the week below ground in a meeting, we took the opportunity this afternoon to get ourselves on Turkish time and reconnect with colleagues while wandering the freezing, rain-slicked streets. I kick started the stroll with a Turkish coffee and a baked chicken breast pudding. (Note to self and you, unless you’re a fan of glutinous desserts that wobble like haggis, this one is best left alone after giggling at the menu listing.)The biggest change since I was last here is the above ground rail system that makes getting around a breeze. After the sad discovery that the Istanbul Modern was closed on Mondays, we worked out how to buy a “jeton” (plastic token that’s your ticket to ride) and headed to the old city. Here I enjoyed a pieda (unjustly described as Turkish pizza), it’s a delicious stuffed, fired, semi-open bread. We sheltered from the cutting wind by dashing inside the Blue Mosque and exploring the Cisterns.
As I forgot to pack shoes, I dodged raindrops down the Istiklal Cadessi on the way back to the hotel and managed to score some flats on ‘indirim’ (i.e. “on sale/discounted.”) It’s indirim season here, although it also seemed to be indirim season on each of the three previous occassions I’ve been here in June and July. On the way to the start of Istiklal Cadessi, I also made a beeline for a new (to me) boutique, Laundromat. It’s a much more polished and high-end presentation of the same idea behind South Africa’s YDE (or Young Designer’s Emporium), where up-and-coming clothing and accessories designers co-display and sell their limited edition runs. I highly recommend stopping off at Galip Dede Cadessi 93, right near the Galata Tower. Eye candy, and body candy for those who can afford it.
The day rounded off with a pitstop for a portable dinner from an old favourite, the ‘Boerek Centre’, a pleasing perusal around Robinson Crusoe (books, maps, sextants and such in beautiful displays and a supermodel slim locale) and a guilty pleasure stop at Pasabahce that turned up the Calvin-sized dinner utensils we’ve been searching for (plus replacement coffee mugs for me.)
And now that the talent event seems to have stopped abruptly, so will I, and take advantage of the lull to head to bed.