I arrived in Istanbul yesterday, but didn’t get up to much other than a brief wander around the streets near my hotel. Today I decided to go on a bit of a walking tour. This is despite there being a tram stop right out the front of the hotel, that would pretty much take me right where I wanted to go. The main reason for this is the cake shop in the lobby of my hotel.
Believe it or not, I think I actually managed to lose some weight in Jordan. Usually it is impossible to lose weight when you are on holiday. However, it was extremely hot, and when it is that hot (over about 35 degrees centigrade) even I start to lose my appetite. Also, Jordanian food wasn’t great. They do western food very badly (apologies to the chef in the hotel near Petra, who when I explained vegetarian came up with an amazing cheese omelet and very edible bowl of chips), and the local food is very tart and tangy. Think olives and feta cheese, that kind of tart and tangy. I can only really eat this kind of food in moderation. If you like that kind of thing and eat meat (there also seemed to be lots of grilled meat about) it would probably be fantastic. However, for a vegetarian with a sweet tooth, it wasn’t great. I mostly ate toast with butter and jam, vegetables with rice and what ever junk food I could rustle up from the abundance of little convenience stores. By the end of my time in Jordan, the trousers were considerably looser.
Turkey though is all about food. You can’t walk more than 100 metres in any direction without passing a restaurant or cafe. There are cake shops, sweet shops. Vegetarian seems to come smothered in melted cheese and the cake shop in the lobby does the best thing with profiteroles imaginable (smother them in some kind of chocolate custard, add chocolate bits and top with grated chocolate). Hence, after only being in Istanbul for less than 24 hours the need for a very long walk.
I went south from my hotel till I came to the shores of the Marmara Sea, discovering as I went that I needed to change my road crossing style ever so slightly due to it being based on the assumption that drivers will indicate and are driving at a moderate speed. Once I reached the water, I walked along the front till I rounded the headland where the Marmara Sea meets the Bosphorus and Halic, and then wended my way through the streets till I found the archaeological museums. The museums have a seriously impressive collection of sarcophagi, with the most incredible relief carvings. I can’t believe how intact they are given their age.
After the museums, I had lunch by the Yerebetan Cisterne (a fountain and old remains opposite the Blue Mosque and Sophia Hagia), then went back to my hotel via the grand bazaar. The grand bazaar is a covered market which has hundreds of stalls selling jewellery, clothes, leather goods, rugs etc. They had some fantastic looking textile type things, I think they are silk carpets. I didn’t buy anything, mostly because there was too much choice, but also because I hate to haggle and have no room in my luggage.
Anyway, am off in search of dinner.