In Istanbul, it was sometimes too hot to take long walks in the afternoon. So I strolled around in the morning and after dinner. There are lots of nice things to look at in the winding streets near the Bosphorus, and there are also lots of lovely cafes with meza (appetizer) platters. So much delicious food, and hummus, and grape leaves, and yogurt, and cucumbers, and kebabs, and basically Turkish cuisine is amazing.

I spent an hour walking through a bazaar, chatting with shop owners (read: waving and walking away before being brought into the store to look at things I can’t buy). One guy did entice me into the store to look at silk and cashmere and all kinds of fabric scarfs, including this beautiful thing:

In one shop, there were little felt ball toys with animal faces in the window. I walked in to ask the owner how much they cost, and he laughs and says, “You don’t want to know.” It turns out one little toy cost 98 lira, which is like $55 or something. Absurd. He said one lady thought they cost 9.8 lira, so she scooped up 10 toys and offered to give him 2 lira as a “tip.” He laughed and told her she could buy 9 and keep the 10th as a “tip.”

I walked along Galata Bridge, but this was no ordinary “stroll on a bridge.” This was an impressive stroll, because the bridge had two levels. On the top, men were fishing and sitting and talking. On the bottom, there were restaurants and shops and bars. I walked along the bottom, looking for a restaurant, with a lot of help from the owners and waiters. As I passed by one restaurant and shook my head no to dinner, the guy from the next restaurant down the line comes up and says, “Now it’s my turn!” I felt like my life was a Mario Bros. level, in which there was not just one boss to defeat, but a line of them that just kept showing up and demanding I eat their food. I finally gave in when one guy gave me a deal on some fish and threw in some free Turkish tea. For two hours I sat and thought and drew a picture of the view from the bridge:

It probably would have been more accurate to include the fishing lines and dangling anchovies, but I’m not good with drawing “depth,” if you know what I mean. Several waiters offered to buy the pages from my notebook, which I thought about and asked if I could get my meal for free. They did not like that idea, so I just kept drawing away. The owner approached me and asked to look, when he stared at the page until saying, “I see life in the sea. That is the sea, yes?”

The point is: Turkey was the best self-esteem booster ever.


One thought on “Strolls

  1. GP says:

    Ahh, what memories! You won’t find food like this back in the states. At least not at any place I’ve been. And to learn you are an artist, too. Your talents are amazing! Love, GP

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