chapter lx

Posts Tagged ‘Spice Market

Yesterday was another one of those days when plans went south. Why did I assume that Dalaman airport connected to anything? I guess it would bel like flying into Halifax and assuming that you could get to Lunenburg easily. It would have made more sense to fly straight to Rhodes, I didn’t save a nickel going by ferry. The ferry was about 40 minutes late leaving Rhodes, which closed my 45 minute window to catch the 10:30 bus to Dalaman – the only bus!! So a $100 taxi ride. But I was not thinking clearly enough, it was still early in the day and my flight was not until nearly four. I could have stayed in Marmaris, had a nice breakfast outside in a cafe, sat by the sea and enjoyed the time. Instead, I was already in a taxi at the ferry dock, had to get into the town somehow, but when I went to the ferry dock to cross to Rhodes, I got a town bus for about 3 Tl. The cab driver, of course, was anxious for the fare, so took off, after we haggled some on the price. I hadn’t had breakfast yt, no coffee even. I had to leave before the pension served breakfast, and didn’t want to miss the ferry. By the way, the room in Rhodes the previous night was charming. Mango Rooms, situated in a far quiet corner of the Old Town, with a pleasant cafe, clean well appointed room, and a very large tree just outside that caught the breeze and shushed all night.

So I got to Dalaman Airport hours before my flight, paid airport prices for mediocre food, and was sorry that it turned out that way. But wait, the day was not over yet. Flight was pleasant, they served little sandwiches and coffee, no taking off shoes or separating liquids and gels, landed at the far airport and took transit into the city, but over the river from the hotel I had booked. Taksim Square, New Istanbul. Figured how to buy a transit pass, but how to know which bus? A man selling something on the street looked at where I wanted to go, and drew out the number 96, showed me where to catch it. Rush hour, like rush hour in any large city, thousands of people waiting for hundreds of busses. I waited about 45 minutes, and every number bus had passed but no 96, so I asked another man who was waiting and he told me which to get on, and stay on until the end. Great, but how to find my hotel? So I asked a woman who was getting off the bus, showed her the address of the hotel, and she said ok, you come with me. We walked for awhile, through a neighborhood where people really live and she was saying hello to people all along the way.we got to her house, and she called her teenage daughter down, who speaks better English. I found the hotel ok, but what a run-down nasty little place. The neighborhood is Kumkapi, close to a very large fish market. There are streets and alleys with seafood restaurants lining each side, lights strung everywhere, and each restaurant has a band, each playing at full volume. People get up and start dancing and clapping. It was as crazy as Las Vegas, or carnival. I managed to find a tiny kebab place in a side alley, but did sit in a pub for a $6 beer. It was an experience but I didn’t want to stay more than one night, so got on the Internet and found another room for the rest of my stay. Even had to wait an hour for breakfast this morning.
One more move this morning, dragging the wheelie and carrying the carry-on and purse. Went to the bus stop, again wondering which bus and a taxi driver approached. I thought, what the heck, it can’t be that far, why drag all this again? So I showed him the address where I wanted to go, and he didn’t understand it so moved me to another cab and driver. Bargained the price with this one, about $7, and felt ok about that. He was Kurdish, spoke about three words of English, although we did struggle to make conversation. He drove to a dead end, pointed up a hill and said, walk about a kilometer or kilometer and a half, and I would be there!! I tried paying him less than we agreed, he didn’t take me where I wanted to go, but my bag was in his trunk. Hmmmm.

I am so happy with where I am now. The Emin Hotel, in Sirceski district, clean, friendly, well-maintained with a restaurant and right on a tram line. A very nice part of town, easy to walk everywhere. And only one Euro more a night than the dump. So I have unpacked the bags and settled in for the next four days. Went to the Spice Market this morning; what a place. You can buy anything there, a real department store. I mean it, clothes, kitchen equipment, hoes and axes, boots, spices, fabrics, toys, party supplies, what do you want? Of course, Saturday morning the place was jammed. More varieties of Turkish delight that you can imagine. Too bad I’m not that crazy about Turkish Delight, but many other goodies.

Went to Topkapi Palace this afternoon and am still amazed. The opulence and beauty and luxury that they lived with is incredible. This is from the 15th to mid-19th century. I think about how people were living in Canada then – no comparison. The difference between the Old World and the New World. Beautiful grounds and setting with views over the Marmara Sea and mountains. I didn’t go to the Harem, although everyone says they are a must, but by the time I got there it was almost three, and the whole complex closes at 5, so I didn’t think I could do it all justice. There was a special exhibit about the harem, and harem life, which I think gave a good representation.

Tomorrow I think I’m going to venture out of the touristy old part and go up the Bosphorouss to some other neighborhoods and palaces and churches. I have tickets for whirling dervishes at a cultural centre tomorrow evening. I am looking forward to that. The other thing i really want to do when I’m here is visit a hamam. Istanbul really is a lovely city, with so much to see and taste and experience. You hear all languages, see all dress, many women with headscarves, bright colours and attractive. There are also some in burkas but not in great numbers. My experience is that Turks are warm and generous people, but stay away from cab drivers!

The days are warm but not too hot, and the evenings are lovely and cool. Perfect time of year to be here. I wish I could post photos, but will have to add them in when I get home, unless I can find a very cheap camera gizmo here. I feel like I have been bleeding money the past couple days, but things are more predictable now.