Istanbul, Time for a Little Vacation

                                                                         (Blue Mosque)

Jet lag. Pregnancy. Vacation eating (or overeating I shall say). Hours on my feet walking around this charming city.  I typically would assume that each of these would be working against my morning yoga practice, but on the contrary, I awoke this morning to the sound of the namaz (too early at 4:30), slept peacefully for an extra hour, and then has a beautiful morning yoga practice.

Strangely, I don’t have any hint of the sickness I was having in DC over the last weekend we were there.  Perhaps DC was due to the high temperatures and the changes from the AC indoors to the hot temps outside.  My diet is not that much different except that I’m eating more.  I think the Mediterranean diet must be by far the healthiest diet–olive oil, beans and lentils, veggies galore, and several different kinds of flat breads.  Food in Istanbul is to die for even when mediocre.

There is also the lack of work stress. I am happy and yoga moves on—even supta kurmasana!

We’re staying in the touristy Sultanhamat….the old part of town.

Breakfast at the Hotel Berce—eggs of various kinds (deviled, omelet), yummy deep fried cheese rolls in a philo dough that seem to be everywhere, an array of cheeses, toast, yogurt, and daily surprises.  I get excited about breakfast at night before going to sleep.

Morning touring–We’ve mostly been touring in the mornings–Blue Mosque, Topakari Palace, and Sultanahment neighborhood.  We passed one row of shops, where the shop keepers sit outside and drink tea all day. As we walked by the shop keeper noted, “Same people, everyday” in a drawn out voice.  I think tomorrow we need to venture into Taksim, the new side of town for a change.

Lunch at an unremarkable neighborhood place consisted of lentil soup, “poofed” pita bread, chicken kabab, hummus and yogurt with cucumber. .

This afternoon we went to the Grand Bazaar and Spice Markets, and then we ventured back to our hotel.  Everything is very nearby though Turks have no concept of distance. One person will say it’s only 100 meters and the next will say the same place if 500 meters.  It’s best to just take a gamble and stay on foot in the older part of Istanbul.  The tram mostly runs by all of the major sites, so if you walk nearby the tramway, you can most always find your way.

In the evening we made an attempt to venture to one of our friend Swami’s recommended dining places—the hotel at which he stayed while in this area in 2010.  We got sidetracked, ended up at the water front, and ate instead at a wonderful local venue called Karish Sen, which was apparently established in 1938. There we had musels and bulgar in spices wrapped in some kind of leaf (kind of like dolmas but much bigger), octopus salad, spinach sautéed in olive oil and very flavorful, and a warm shrimp mezze in which the shrimp was cooked in an earthenware pot with mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese and spices. It was wonderful. This was by far the best meal we’ve experienced in Istanbul.

Other observations—I love that there are cats everywhere.  At least they outnumber tourists. I’m not really sure how many Turkish lanterns and carpets any one can really desire, but given the number of shops apparently selling them and staying in business, I’m impressed.

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