Saturday April, 24
Well, I am sleeping in and relaxing a bit. My sister got up, dressed, and went to a Shul about 2 blocks from here but I am exhausted. We are going on a walking tour with Isak at 2:00pm.
Promptly at 2:00, we met Isak in the lobby. As I mentioned on Friday, the hotel borders the Nişantasi district. Nişantasi is the Beverly Hills of Istanbul and hills it is. It was getting quite warm and today was humid as well. Louis Vuiton, Prada, Burberry, and on and on along with countless other trendy boutiques lined the streets. The cafes with sidewalk seating were spilling over with a very fashionable crowd. We passed one boutique where a designer uses antique velvets and brocades to make unique ottoman inspired clothing and shoes. Beautiful but not in my price range. We explored Nişantasi, sat for iced coffees, and then proceeded to another shopping district on foot.
Iştiklal Cadessi (street) is a pedestrian only street, lined with shops, clothes, books cafés, Starbucks… First, we passed a traffic circle with a big square in the middle, Takşim Square, and a huge statue of Ataturk. Ataturk means father or Turkey. Ataturk was the first secular president of Turkey. Ataturk’s ideal was to create a secular modern country. He was a brilliant military man and did not want Turkey to be an Islamic state controlled by Imams. He ended the era of the Sultans, and the last Sultan reportedly died in Paris penniless.
Iştiklal was a teaming sea of humanity, so crowded it was unbelievable. We walked down passing windows full of inviting food, pastry, borekas, simit(sesame bread) sandwiches, kebab, kufte, old village ladies making some kind of crepes in a window, I made a video, kahve (coffee), fresh juice, ice cream, lokum and carts full of grilled corn on the cob and fresh roasted chestnuts. I could eat myself into oblivion. About ½ mile down we turned right down a narrow side street with produce stands and fish stalls. Pick your own fresh fish and they grill it right up over hot coals. Further down, we entered into a tight cluster of beer gardens beginning to fill the late afternoon shoppers. Round and round back to Iştiklal and back to the hotel. I am so hot, so tired, so drained by the humidity Barbie said we have time for a 40 minute reflexology (foot) message before we shower and dress for dinner.
Cousin Haim’s sister lives here in Istanbul actually in the Ortakoy district over the Bosporus. K’s Husband picked us up and drove us to their palatial condominium, we entered the security, and shortly after we arrived 2 other guests arrived. They are best friends. K made an elaborate and delicious dinner including, eggplant borekas, fish, anjinaras, rocket or arugula salad, fresh peas, and other vegetables. The evening passed with great conversation.
When the evening was over, the other guests were kind enough to drive us back to our hotel along a route passing the Jewish cemetery and the Jewish school. Tomorrow is our last day in Istanbul.