by Sonia Su
Trying to remember the exact order of events from a trip that happened two weeks ago is being increasingly difficult. Thank God for my addiction to check-in app Swarm…
Sure, I have plenty of photos to help, but thanks to editing and exporting from photo editing app VSCO, they’re mostly out of order, rendering them next to useless. Anyway, I can’t let this trip summary drag on any longer.
I forgot to mention that we dined at the Reina restaurant while recalling the day I left off on the last post. All the days seem to blur so easily together. The views from this upscale restaurant were incredible.
The next morning, we were on our own again. With the first two days led by such a kind new local friend, it still felt weird to be let go so freely to explore on our own. Honestly, I hadn’t prepared much for this trip. In fact, uncharacteristically of me, I did zero planning, partly because I knew that we were staying with my friend’s friends, lessening the necessity of personal research (to a degree) and partly because I just didn’t have the time. I literally packed up and left, as if I were not about to embark on a weeklong trip. My mind was too cluttered with school, and the only thing I really was prepared for was to let go completely.
We found an incredible breakfast spot. Hidden down a small alley inside a space tinier than my apartment now, we entered what could pass for someone’s actual home kitchen, complete with homey decorations, photographs, and writing on the walls. The food was even better than expected. Seriously, best breakfast I have ever had. So much bread, so many toppings, spreads, etc. I wish I could go back. I wish I had a personal chef. He prepared everything behind the counter by himself. We were the only customers, and—if you couldn’t tell—I loved it.
Soon enough, we managed to leave this magical place back into the hustle of Taksim Square, taking the tram to the part of town where the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Basilica Cistern were all conveniently located.
When trying to find the Basilica Cistern, however, we met a man who had helped us point literally just meters (LOL, look at me trying to sound un-American) away from where we were at the entrance of the Hagia Sophia. Of course, our interaction didn’t just end there. After briefly mentioning how he wants to go to Boston to study English, he led us to his family-owned carpet shop next to the Cistern. We felt bad for not following him, despite knowing with complete certainty we would never buy rugs, let alone rugs that we would have to ship back home somehow. When we saw that his “shop” was a house down an alley and that he wanted us to go inside for tea, we drew the line. Alright, thanks. Let’s go. I believed he was a good guy, and he hilariously acknowledged how dangerous the situation may have seemed to three young girls visiting a foreign country, but I don’t think we missed out on anything by rejecting his request, albeit one that I could tell had a high likelihood of being completely innocent.
After the Basilica, where we saw the two Medusa heads, we made our way to the Grand Bazaar, passing by colorful buildings and experiencing more of the streets of Istanbul.
Then on our final day in Istanbul, we enjoyed another lovely brunch near the Bosphorus at Lokma restaurant. Although not nearly as heavenly as the day before, I enjoyed having a pan of meneman all to myself :)
With the main touristy attractions out of the way, we spent today largely re-walking the routes we were on over the weekend with our “tour guide,” stopping occasionally for food. A lot of food.
I managed to slip in one last sahlep, because man, I can’t get enough of that stuff.
At the airport, we had lunch at the food court, where I again tried to slip in one last Turkish meal, a weird square slice of meat, veggies, and cheese that the server insisted I get. It wasn’t until I was waiting in line and saw someone get two gyro wraps that I realized my grave mistake. I mean, it tasted good, but as a last meal? In an airport?
Luckily, Turkish Airlines serves some pretty fantastic food. I feel weird admitting it, but that gyro over rice? Better than expected.
PHEW. RECALL OVER. Also, how clever is the title of this post?