Friday, November 11, 2011

Istanbul Instances: Spice Bazaar

In our 8 years here, we've never taken a family trip to Istanbul, just 6 hours away by car. CC has been there a couple of times for conferences and as a team member to accredit another school. We have even taken Firstborn there for a weekend once, when CC went to a conference, so she and I tagged along. But we really wanted our kids to see Istanbul when they could appreciate the significance and history. We finally decided, "Hey, Big Ben is out of diapers, let's go!" At least our older three girls would be old enough to remember this experience. This past week was a 4 day holiday set aside for Muslims in this country to sacrifice animals. Our school was closed as it is a public holiday. School let out Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning we set out. CC made great time on the highway. But getting into the heart of the city reminded the two of us why we say, "Great place to visit, wouldn't want to live there." Bless you, Istanbul folks. We used a map book that Firstborn (also known as Templeton the Scavenger) had snagged from a freebie table at some point. I'd look up a street we were on, then CC would say, "We're three streets past that now, WHERE are we?!" He has an excellent sense of direction. I have no shame in rolling my window down and saying, in Turkish, "Big brother, what street is this?" And so we finally found our hotel. We settled in, then hit the streets knowing we had very limited time and much to see.
In the picture above, Twinkle Toes is standing in front of the train used as inspiration for Agatha Christie's mystery novel Murder on the Orient Express and the movie based on it. We turned directly behind us and saw the window at which she sat as she wrote.

We decided not to take a stroller. In some places, especially the cobblestone streets, it is worse to have one. So, CC agreed to carry Big Ben. At 3 years old, he weighs what our first grader weighs. Bless him.

I researched and found that the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar would be closed the entire holiday, so we had a little window on Saturday night to see it. The Spice Bazaar has a little sampling of all the goods you see at the Grand, but was closer for little feet to walk to, so we opted for that.

It was a challenge to keep all 7 of us together. We planted one cell phone on Firstborn, just in case we lost any kids. We were asked many times about our 5 children. I'll never tire of answering those questions. Yes, they are all mine. No, we weren't waiting for a boy, he was a surprise. No, they don't make my life difficult, they are a gift from God.

We didn't spend much. We let the kids get a few postcards from Istanbul. We got a little mousepad that looks like a Turkish rug. But it was nice to actually live in the country and know what things cost. Speaking a few words of Turkish demonstrated to the shop keepers that we weren't the prey they wanted.

The night was cold. We hadn't had lunch. Everyone was so hungry. So we stopped at a little side street and had Iskender, a meal consisting of dimpled bread, covered with thinly sliced lamb, topped with a tomato sauce and thick yogurt. It's every bit as good as it sounds, especially when you are very hungry and cold.

After dinner, we headed back to our room. On the way home, I took this picture on one of Istanbul's old streets. I have had fun playing around with the pictures to give them different effects.This reminds me of Gotham City (Can you tell I have a son these days?)
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Anonymous said...

Oh my, oh my . . . I'm drooling. Istanbul is one place I really would love to visit. (I know I mention this often.)

Oh, wait until I tell Kathleen. You and Kathleen should travel the famous Orient Express Route (my favorite one of your pictures, by the way). Agatha Christie - have you ever read her biography? The woman was an adventuress, as you might guess. She was a romantic dreamer with a fascinating life. Kathleen could handle the French and you could handle the Turkish. I have researched that train and the train route, and while they had revived it for a time for tourists, unfortunately it is gone now, but you can still travel the route on one of Europe's high speed trains.

Kathleen will probably go back, Lord willing, before too long.

IF we do come over there, I just have to make it to Istanbul!! Ah, and your post confirms my desire to go . . . What a romantic place to visit!

Can't wait to hear about the rest of the visit . . . and YES, the food sounded scrumptious!

Oh, the bazaars!! How wonderful!!


Tara G. said...

Laughing- Mr. YH was driving our stroller WAY too fast somewhere in Istanbul and we to do some reconstructive surgery! That was back when we just had the oldest! ha!! We were handed so many samples in the market thanks to our little one! :) Love the family picture!!

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