Western Turkey was experiencing a heatwave and Istanbul was not exempt, despite all the water. We moved slowly as a consequence.
First stop was the Museum of Modern Art on the waterfront in Karakoy, just down the hill from Ali’s apartment. A beautify setting and a great representation of local artists, photographers and installation art. Education seemed to be very high on their CV’s with all studding at one of the local university fine art schools and also overseas. I had never heard of any of them, but from the quality of the work, probably should have.
Loris and Ali went to the hamam attached to the 16th century Kilic Ali Pasa mosque for a scrub down while Marcelo and I wandered around the waterfront and across Galata Bridge to see if the fishermen were catching anything. On the way got stung by a local shoe shiner. He dropped his brush in front of me, I picked it up and in thanks he offered to clean my very scruffy shoes which I had now been wearing through mud and dust for the past 90 days. I offered to pay something, he wanted double, some Turkish negotiation followed.
After lunch at one of the Karakoy cafes set under grape vine covered lanes we hoped on the tram and off to the Grand Bazaar. Ali wanted some cushion covers and to look at a rug. I love this bazaar, it is the biggest and most varied and a fitting destination for our Silk Road journey. The goods sold here still travel the same routes across Asia that they have for centuries. Silk from China and Uzbekistan, jewellery and carpets from Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, paintings and inlaid picture frames and boxes from Iran. Plus a lot of locally produced silver, gold, copper and carpets. It was despite the down turn in Turkish tourism, thriving.
Ali had organised dinner in the only Michelin stared restaurant in Istanbul. A six course degustation meal with accompanying Turkish wines. The restaurant was conveniently located on the roof of our hotel, which is one of the tallest buildings in Pera, just up the hill from the Galeta Tower. The views were expansive during the day, and spectacular in the evenings. The city is a blaze of light and colour and maybe it was the wine, but the sight is quite unique: two continents and a history of the world before you. From Justinian’s Haiga Sophia built in the 6th century Bizantine Roman era, to the Suleyman Mosque built to celebrate the life of the Ottoman conqueror, to the traffic of the modern bustling city.
The food was as you would expect of a restaurant of this repute and the wine, well let’s just say that things got a bit out of control. Our waiter and Marcelo spent a considerable part of the evening taking soccer. Each time he came over to discuss another player, team or world cup event, another bottle would appear, and there were lots of things he wanted to discuss. Let me just conclude by saying that Turkey is making some fine wines from both mainstream and local and unpronounceable grapes.