Friday, March 27, 2015

Euro Spring 2015 - Part 2 - Reconaissance

Where Our Heros
  • Take stock
  • Get the lay of the land
  • Find the disadvantages of cowboy hats
  • Are culinary introduced
  • Become Uber virgins no more
At 5 AM, which is only about four hours after we go to sleep, there is this incredibly loud sound of a single singer which seems to be echoing from close to far.  Welcome to an Islamic country where the prayers said 5 times a day are broadcast throughout the city from every mosque.  I slightly syncopated thought I'm not quite sure they all aren't starting exactly at the same time.

We're able to sleep another three hours.  We're both a bit punchy.  The breakfast buffet is pure Turkish which I will have to get a picture and talk about in more depth later.  We are in the Sultanahmet section which is the real old city.  It is very touristy but is so close to the major attractions that logistically it makes the most sense for us.  Our B&B host shows how to get from the where we are to the main tourist area.  We figure that out pretty easily.

We spent the morning finding the locations of many of the things we want to see - the Blue Mosque, the Aya Sophia, the various museums, the Topkapa Palace (Not Tokapi), the Basilica Cistern.  My hat is like a neon sign for various people trying to accost us for their services.  They're annoyingly persistent.  They only seem to be in the major tourist center.

Our host has recommended a little place, frequented by locals for lunch.  When we get there at 12:25, it isn't open.  They tell us 20 minutes.  We find a bench, wait the requisite time, and try again.  It is now open.  This place specializes in doner kebab.  It's not kebab on skewers.  That's supposed to be here but this is more like gyro or shwarma - slices of flavored lamb put onto giant skewers that are cooked. A cook takes slices off in a perpendicular direction from the direction of the giant skewer so the meat is like shaved.  Wife had hers on a plate, while I opted for mine in a rolled flat bread.  They were quite tasty and not expensive.  We watched all the working folk  com in.  When we first arrived there were only a few tables filled.  Lunch must be later here because by 1:15 the place was packed and people were eating quickly and on their way.

We went back to the B&B and took a nap and discussed, based on what we'd seen, and what else we researched, what we were going to do when.  It was time for dinner.  Host had recommended a place know for its fish and being local oriented.  Based on input from our friends the Count and C'ontessa, we decided to try the new car service Uber.  It worked pretty good.  You can see where the car that is coming for you on the app on your phone.  But their time estimates are not accurate.  They seemed to be based on an algorithm using a number of factors that are not always valid.  Hence you have a vehicle which shows they are arriving in 8 minutes and it stays that way for about 10 minutes.  And they don't always get to exactly where you are.  It can also show you they are 17 minutes away and they end up coming in 4 minutes.

Our dinner was another local place but which specialized in seafood.  We had some appetizers and grilled fish.  It was very reasonable.  When we called our Uber car again, it came much quicker than the app showed and I had to gulp down my tea.  Then we had a problem with them being on the opposite side of the block from the restaurant.  On the good side, there is no cash changing hands.  Uber charges a credit card you've given them.

Pictures may take a while as the internet here is slow.


Renee Michelle Goertzen said...

Maybe you'll need to buy a country-specific hat for each country you're in, so that you'll blend in?

I know Doner Kebabs well, since they are every where in Germany. Luckily they make a vegetarian version with lots of feta.

Tom P said...

We are very proud! Your first call to prayer and Uber ride all in one day! Awesome!

Go to Durumzade! Terrific food!

Agent W said...

I agree with Renee Michelle about your need to find a country-specific hat for each country you will be visiting!!
Wow! The 5am prayer broadcast must have given you both a jolt! Glad your food experiences are getting off to a good start! Looking forward to your next posts!

Rob said...

I third the idea of the country-specific hat... this is what we would recommend when you visit the Netherlands:

alexis said...

I've still not used Uber. But I remember the taxis in Istanbul being pretty cheap.

AND - dude, we gots your doner kebab all over Amsterdam! I assumed it was a thing everywhere.