By the time I arrived at the entrance of the Grand Bazaar, I was already sweating. I had to unzip my Winter jacket, which I wasn’t comfortable of doing as it exposed my waist pouch. The place might seem complex and tricky, but fortunately, I didn’t have much trouble there.

I got lost slightly when the tour guide left us there during the city tour on Day 2. However, walking by myself was much easier as I didn’t have to remember a specific entrance or spot to gather, etc. I can just wander off naturally. And the guidebook was right. The Grand Bazaar consists of 1 main lane that branches out into side lanes on the left and right. So, it was fairly simple.

Feeling tired, I decided to find the cafe I saw at one of the side lanes the other day and have lunch. It took me only a few turns and turning back, and there was Havuzlu Restaurant, am elegant and nice outlet. There was a fountain in front of the entrance. I chose a cozy table for two outside. It was interestingly placed as I enjoyed the dining backdrop of leather jackets, which belonged to the stall next door. I asked for the menu. The waiter called the energetic Captain to attend to me. I noticed that when I dine, normally the Captain or the owner himself would attend to me, probably due to language barrier. He suggested that I sit inside, said that it was nicer. I didn’t agree.

He said not everything was in the menu, so what don’t I go and see their food selection and decide. He took me inside and explained everything in detail. They have an appetizing selection. I decided on meatballs. It came with vegetables and potatoes like a casserole. Forgetting that they always served bread with each meal, I ordered the oily rice too.

Shopping at the Bazaar did not appeal to me. I only got a small ‘evil eye’ necklace and pendant. Locals believe it would protect you from evil. I wanted to buy key chain, but I didn’t see anything I like. Of course, merchants were calling after me like mad. ‘Excuse me, lady. I say, Lady!

After a short window shopping, I decided to stop by at Cafe Amrosia for Coffee. Then I saw the menu display. ‘Sahlep’. I remember reading about the creamy traditional drink with hibiscus roots in Tom Brosnahan book so I ordered it. It was really thick and burning hot with a sprinkle of cinnamon powder, I think they boiled the milk in the pot. After that, I went to change money. The waiting area for 4 was really cramp and I didn’t feel comfortable as the staff attended to all customers at once. That means the others would know how much money you had on you. And I was exchanging USD1000 too. There were 3 men when I got there and they invited me to have a sit.

After that, I stepped outside. It was raining. I opened my folded umbrella but it kept turning inside out from the strong wind. I quickly hailed a cab to go to Chamberlitas Hamam. When I was done, it was already dark at 6.30pm. There was a cab waiting at the junction. Having learned my lesson, I ignored it and strolled along. I waited at the road for a cab to pass by. The driver was eyeing me so I stepped into a Turkish Delight shop nearby. I ordered 2 types of goodies before realizing that 50 gram of each was a lot and I didn’t want to carry 2 extra boxes to Canakkale the next day. So, I only took one. The owner gave his card, asked me to go again. He wanted to show me the way to walk back to Sultanahmet. I asked him where could I get a cab instead, it was too dark. He went out and hailed the same one which was waiting for me. He said I shouldn’t pay more than 5 TL and talked to the driver for me. We agreed on 5 TL.

I was due for another nightmare. When we arrived at the crowded area of Sultanahmet, the cab didn’t know where the hotel was. He also didn’t know how to read the address from the card that I gave. When I asked him to stop and asked for direction, he ignored me and kept on going. I then rolled down the window and called a person near by to ask. After a few trials, a man I asked spoke good English and showed the way based on the address. We didn’t get there but this time the arrogant driver himself rolled down his window and asked. The second one didn’t speak much English but he knew the way.

When we arrived in front of the hotel, the driver insisted on 10TL instead as he had to turn around many times, as if that was my problem. I had sensed that coming and quickly grabbed my stuff and opened the door. One foot already out, I yelled at him, “You said 5TL!’ I threw the money at him and banged the cab door before quickly crossing the lane to my hotel. I was lucky that he got a shock and sped off. Naz Wooden Inn front door was always locked and you had to knock. He could have come after me. And Han, the receptionist, listened patiently to the long-winded account of my misfortune. He agreed with me, the nice cab drivers are really nice, where else the bad ones are really bad.

Feeling tired of cabs, I asked him to arrange a dinner booking at a Fish Restaurant for me that night. I knew it would be a classy and expensive outlet as they provided complimentary pick-up and drop off service. I spent 40TL for salad, main course and Cay. I seldom exceeded 10TL per meal before, except the two treated by Simah and Havuzlu. Anyway, the fish in tomato gravy with cheese in a hot plate was delicious and fresh. At first, I was not happy sitting quite near the entrance. Fortunately, the Captain moved me to another table as soon as it was empty. Oh, it was Valentine’s Day and my new secluded seating area were reserved for couples mostly. LOL! The place was full and we could hear loud music and singing from the function upstairs.

I found out that my pick-up to Canakkale the next morning would be delayed to 3.00pm due to snow. So, in the morning, I took Han’s suggestion and took off for the Asian shores on my own. Having learned my lesson, I made sure I walked until I found the tram station. From Eminonu, I walked to Kadikoy Iskelesi and took a ferry. Onboard, I walked right in until I came across a nice seating area, like for VIPs. The ferry docked at Haydapasar before reaching Kadikoy. I showed my Istanbul Time Out guidebook to the merchants at the convenient stall near the jetty and asked for direction to recommended places.

When I was crossing the road, I saw many policemen lining up, at least 100 pax. At the closed area in front of the jetty, a group was putting on loud Turkish music and making announcements. I didn’t think much of it and went off to venture. At the old Bazaar, I got myself a nice pair of pink Winter boots at 50TL. I surveyed the restaurants in the area, having read that Kadikoy has the best selections. I finally decided on one filled by local diners. The waiter was surprised when I ordered both fried anchovies (they ran out of shrimps) for appetizer and grilled Seabass for main course. The fishes were very fresh, and the price was slightly cheaper than European Istanbul, I think.

Kadikoy’s many outlets were occupied by a wide range of products from vegetables and fish market to books and music equipment. At the flower shop nearby, remains of Valentine’s Day from the previous night were still there. Red heart-shaped balloons and romantic gifts too. I was so tempted to drop by at Starbucks for a cup of Coffee after that. However, on my way back to the jetty, I saw a group of people marching and shouting with pickets signs and all. There was a protest going on, which explained the batalions of police. The protest area was fenced in and it seemed under control. I wasn’t scared but I thought I better head back quickly. I had to follow the crowd and make a whole round to get to the jetty due to the closed space.

When the ferry reached Eminonu, I got of with the flock of commuters. However, I discovered that walking back in the opposite direction was not as easy as going. I lost my bearing completely. The few people I asked didn’t have a clue and nearly made me cross the road and walk all the way back to Sultanahmet (when I wanted to take the tram). The second time I asked, the ticket counter man finally got out of his cubicle to show the lower floor and the staircase down to the tram station. It was just 3 minutes away.

Getting down at Sultanahmet was another horror. I started walking down next to Aya Sofya. A tourist I asked was going to the Arasta Bazaar, so I followed him there. He advised me to use the Blue Mosque for bearing next time, the bazaar was not visible from afar. From there, I took a turn into a wrong narrow lane and got lost big time. It was to the extend that I was already worried about being late for my 3.00pm pick-up. After showing the address to many people (I really mean many), I finally found the Inn. A 5 minute-walk became 45 minutes. Not only I made 1-whole round, I think I might have made even 2, LOL! The place was as complicated and confusing as a honeycomb. I reached Naz at 2.50pm, just on time. Luckily, I had already cheked out of my Cave Room earlier, at 9.00am. I managed to change my clothes and washed my face like 5 minutes before my cute tour guide arrived. He was to accompany me on the Metro public bus all the way to Cannnakale.

posts by Hazia