The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The dome upon dome design creates an immense open space, but things are not exactly as harmonious as they seem. To cover up the huge support structure, trompe l’oeil murals were added in the 19th century so that gallery would appear more uniform. Finding these panels while you take in the breath-taking sight is an odd touch of reality in an otherwise divine architecture.
Posts tagged ‘Istanbul’
I should preface this by saying I really did try an learn some Turkish before visiting Istanbul and the western coast. I had some language podcasts and a phrase book. There were times when that was great, times when the basics and hand gestures were enough and a couple times when conversation wasn’t even needed but I still felt like I was following story. This is one example of the latter.
We stopped at a small cafe in the Istanbul Grand Bazaar to recharge with afternoon baklava and tea. I have no idea where it is located in the market*, but there were textile shops around it – not like that narrows things down. The cafe was clearly run by a father and son who were amused by our fragmented Turkish. The baklava were incredibly good which made me glad we ordered two and hadn’t shared. My apple tea was dried apple pieces prepared in a French Press which tasted like rich apple cider after it had steeped.
The Istanbul Spice Market (also known as the Egyptian Market) was one of my favorite places in Turkey. While the Grand Bazaar is massive and decidedly touristy, the Spice Bazaar sprawls out with meat, produce, clothing, hardware, toys, party supplies and even pet shalls which all seem to cater to local shoppers. If you visit the market, you just have to make it past the touristy shops at the entrance (where cruise ship passengers are entertained en masse) because the market is expansive and fascinating!
Turkish ice cream, or dondurma, is thickened with mastic and flour so that it takes on a wholly different consistency. It stretches like taffy and is kneaded like dough but is still essentially milk and sugar. Because of these sticky properties, ordering a cone in Turkey usually comes with a string of “think fast” tricks in which the vendor moves ice cream back and forth over two cones and flips your dessert away as you reach for it from the serving stick.