Istanbul, April 21, 2006

We slept in til 9 am & had a late breakfast on the rooftop. While Katie took a shower, I went down the street to the internet cafe to type our first travel diary installment. Katie said she'd take an hr.; & I thought I'd be back by then. It took a lot longer (the Turkish keyboard is difficult to say the least). Over 2 hrs. later I return to find her sitting on the steps of the hotel looking really pissed. She was obviously worried about me; & I apologized profusely. But she was going to make me pay - I was grounded! As penance, I carried the back pack (usually her job) the rest of the day; but even that didn't do it for her. In our travels, she's gotten separated from me several times; & I was scared (more for myself than for her). So, I suppose I know how she feels. We really didn't start our day until after 1 when we took the tram down to the ferry for a ride to the Prince's Islands. By afternoon the clouds had lifted; & it was sunny, nice & warm. After stops on the Asian side & several of the smaller Prince's Islands, we arrived at the largest island, Buyukada.

The streets are dirt, full of potholes, cobbled sidewalks (although they are digging trenches for pipes & probably some sort of paving). This island is where the rich and/or exiled came to live (mostly in the summers). The architecture is reminiscent of New England (gingerbread & clapboard) w/ blooming tulip trees, redbuds & tons of wisteria draped over fences & arched iron gates. There are no cars; only horse drawn carriages.

We flagged down a carriage for 25 YTL & circled around the island. It was bumpy & beauty was around every turn. I kept smelling horse poop; & then realized that the horses have a square shaped tarp that hangs below their butts to catch the poop. Obviously, I was sitting downwind. We went up to the highest spot on the island where there was a lovely outdoor restaurant w/ a view of the sea.

When we arrived back at the waterfront, we wandered into the Hotel Princess to look around & spoke to the Mgr. He recommended the Lido Restaurant for a seaside fish dinner. (Boy, did we have sucker tatooed on our foreheads.) We finally found the place & took a table outside close to the water & right at the edge of a narrow cobbled path. Along this path we saw horse drawn- & people drawn- carts that carried supplies (everything from bottled water, toilet paper to plastic pipes).

Across the water we could see the European side of greater Istanbul where the cities spread from sea up the side of the hills for as far as the eye can see in either direction. Cities run into each other for maybe 10-20 miles or more. We lingered over a 2 hr. dinner & couldn't stop talking about how magical this day had been.

We chose a fava bean salad, garlic spinach & eggplant/tomato/garlic salad from the tray loaded down w/ mezes (appetizers). With the warm toasted bread to go along, we nearly filled ourselves even before our entree came. A whole turbot lightly battered & fried. Simply delectable! We lingered so long that we missed the 6:25 ferry. Even though we were stuffed, the waiter talked us into a special dessert (on the house). Don't know what it is called; but it was basically coconut & honey baked to an 8" size pancake shape. WOW! We talked about this meal making yesterday's soup/salad fiasco embarrassing. I said, "you wanna guess how much this one costs?" I guessed about 50 YTL. When the bill came, we thought we were hallucinating. 175 YTL, w/ one item costing 100 YTL. We asked what that was for; & he said the fish is sold by the weight. I had heard of this happening elsewhere; but didn't think they did it in Turkey too. Man, let me tell ya, that was one delicious $68 fish! Katie was more than a little upset by this; but my feeling was it was one of those priceless experiences. It was like Katie & I had reversed roles. I'm usually the one to get bent out of shape; & she's the one calming me down. This whole day was sort of backwards.

We took the 7:30 ferry back to the mainland, arriving after 9. By then it was as cold as... Another tram ride home w/ a stop off at Hagia Sophia to look at the lights. Was surprised to see so many people still out on the streets this late since I had read that they "roll the streets up" early. Some shops were still open. Our rug guys spotted us just before we made it in the door. We begged off the offer of tea one more time.

Before coming in to bed, we went up to the rooftop patio to try to photograph the Blue Mosque one more time. At night hundreds of seagulls fly in the lights above it. They look like illuminated angels circling above. Very moving especially around 9:10 when they broadcast the call to prayer. Looks like we're setting the alarm tonight...

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