Friday 26 May 2023

Istanbul: Day 3

 Our last full day in Istanbul started and continued with rain but we soldiered on, it was still warm and the rain stopped in the late afternoon.  

After another good breakfast at the hotel we headed out by ferry using our Istanbulkart card from Karikoy to Kadikoy and decided to go up market and treat ourselves to baclawa  (layers of filo pastry dessert made with and honey/pistachio)  and coffee at the famous Cafe Erol which has been at the edge of the market since 1807.  They also sell baclawa and Turkish delight by the kilo to take home.

I have no idea what is in the bucket below, possibly goats meat in brine

we explored the vegetable market and stopped at a working mens cafe for a snack in the afternoon of pide, a bread that is sliced and filled with meat, cheese or potato and served hot.

then we headed back to the hotel using the ferry  then the tram and our trusty Istanbulkart pass covered it all.  The tram was originally built in 1915 and modernised in 1990.  An original tram is on display below 

(Below is the modern day tram which is now being used).

To end our trip we decided on an evening wander round the cobbled streets of Shishane (you need trainers as the streets are incredibly steep and slippery when it rains).  Things close early in this part of town and we were tired so decided to treat ourselves to dinner in the Radisson Blu Pera rooftop restaurant with a quick retreat to do our packing as only two floors in the lift between our dinner table and bed!

Hubby had kebabs and I had houmous and salad with hot puffy Lavas breads.

Our journey home on the Friday was from Istanbul Airport via Metro to Taksim then Havaist bus (ticket at Taksim square kiosk).  It was Turkey's National Day and the airport was decorated with red flags and had a dj playing live music in the departure area. 

We managed to completely fulfill our challenge of using all means of public transport and did not venture into a taxi once - even in the pouring rain!  Although it was a little hard to keep our mobile phones in our pockets and resist the temptation to google if we got lost, it's a lot more fun to ask people and engage with them and we found everyone helpful and friendly.

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Istanbul.Day 2

Day 2 in Istanbul started and continued most of the day with rain, I found we had left our pac-a-macs behind!  We took time over breakfast then headed out, resigned to getting wet.  We took the Metro to Fatih and found the Sulaymaniye mosque - free entry.  I took a small bag with a pashmina to cover my head/arms and then on entering the mosque put my shoes in the bag so I didn't have to hunt amongst the many other pairs on the steps.  

The mosque, built in 1550 during the Ottoman period,  has beautiful ornately decorated ceilings and stained glass windows. We had been to see the Blue Mosque on a previous trip, this mosque was no less spectacular.

The mosque is located near the University so there are plenty of budget places to eat.  We chose a
snack menu for lunch of beans, salad, rice and lentil soup.

The cafe was started in 1950 and the menu has remained much the same.

There are lots of street vendors for quick snacks too, such as these Simit

The Grand bazaar is a short walk from the Mosque and  has many small narrow roads on the approach, a web of alleyways selling copper, basketry, souvenirs, turkish delight, baclawa and fruit and veg.

I bought my 'wicked eye' souvenirs in a wholesale shop outside the tourist bazaar, they were a third of the price being asked in tourist areas (£3).

We found a little cafe selling this delicious hot dessert in the market.  It's melted in tin dishes with sugary pistachio coating and is delicious.  I was peering through the window wondering what the cheese dishes on display on hot coals were and an elderly lady called me over - she said I don't know what this is but you must try it - it's delicious!  She was right - it's called Kunefe.

We also made numerous stops in cafe's for apple tea and of course admired the market and gold shops.

Day 3 next....

Monday 22 May 2023

Istanbul day 1

We arrived on Monday evening at the new Istanbul Airport and headed straight to the bus terminal where we bought a Havaist ticket and hopped on board the already waiting bus into Taksim.  At Taksim we went into the Metro and bought an Istanbulkart card which is for multiple users and can be topped up at many automated machines throughout the city.  We then took the Metro one stop to Shishane and our hotel, the Radisson Blu Pera where we were booked in for four nights B&B.

Our personal challenge was to only use our mobile phones as cameras, use maps and ask people for directions and use all forms of public transport, we walked a lot and used the metro, bus, tram and ferry.

Day 1: breakfast at the hotel included halva, a sweet sticky slab of goodness made with milk, pistachio nuts and lots of sugar.

Our first full day was sunny and we set off  to Balat and Fener, originally Jewish settlement areas, well known for the pretty painted houses.  This is a Unesco heritage site and was easily accessed by bus using our Istanbulkart card.  

There are stray cats all over Istanbul, they are fed and watered and look healthy.

We stopped for a Turkish coffee, the coffee is not brewed but boiled in pots on hot sand until it bubbles, then poured and served black with a chocolate coffee bean and some Turkish delight samples from the market stall opposite!

Day 2 to follow!

Saturday 13 May 2023

May Hedgerows and Bluebells

I am getting behind with my blog, in the UK this month  we saw our new King and Queen crowned and had a Street party to celebrate...

we all put bunting on our houses and in the town, also there was some yarn bombing, this one was at our supermarket, the king  queen, a soldier and paddington bear, who has become eternally entwined with the late queen Elizabeth since the spoof tv clip she did for us all (tea with queen and a marmalade sandwich,)

We went up to Outwood windmill this week but were a little too late for the usual spectacular carpet of blue that I was looking forward to so much .... the bluebells were dying off... nonetheless we saw beautiful fields of yellow (rapeseed?) and it was still a good walk.

In the small pocket of woodland behind our own house the bluebells were still in full swing on my walk to the allotment and also lots of wild garlic

The allotment is now  crammed with potatoes, runner beans, carrot and beetroot.

Wild garlic is flowering in the woods around here and smells strong!

The hedgerows round here are at their best ...

herb robert, borage, garlic, hawthorn.  We have silver birch trees behind the house that generate a lot of pollen, the men suffer hayfever so we are keeping the windows shut to avoid that thin film of yellow pollen that covers everything.  

Its been a slow start for my pumpkin and tomato seedlings, still indoors but come out when the sun shines, then I whizz them back indoors again when it's chilly.

How's your garden growing?

Mellieha, Malta Sunshine Break

We had a week in Mellieha, Malta, staying at DB seabank all inclusive. My packing was 7 lightweight tee shirt/cotton tops, 3 sho...