Today, Thursday, is the beginning of a 4 day national religious holiday
Feast of the Sacrifice (Kurban Bayramı) – a festival where sheep are sacrificed/slaughtered and their meat is distributed to the poor.
I think that in the city this translates into – shops, banks, etc. are closed for the first day, since I haven’t seen any sheep in the streets. And, I think most people head for the beaches on the Mediterranean.
So, I hire a guide (yesterday) to wander around the main places in Istanbul, and more importantly to cut lines. I like how they explain stuff:
Question: do you know why those walls in the corner of the Blue Mosque are sooo beauutifulll?
Pause: thinking no but I am going to get the question answered soon.
Answer: I get told why they are so beauutifulll.
It’s difficult keeping up with her in the crowds. She is a pro at navigating and does it every day. I spend part of my time rubber necking around and the other part trying to stay right behind her as she clears a path.
The last part of the tour included a tour of the Grand Bazaar, an amazing covered market that must cover 6 blocks or so. I kept telling her I wasn’t going to buy anything, not even an ugly leather jacket, which she had a hard time understanding. (I didn’t seen any leather jackets with fleece lining). Every tourist wants to buy local stuff, right? But it was definitely worth wandering around.
Afterward I bought her lunch at a great little locals spot for Turkish food, kebobs, liquid plain yoghurt to drink – Ayran, an acquired taste. The place was outstanding, and cheap.
Got out of the bazaar without even having to buy a rug.
The sights and sounds are great: taking a taxi that is blaring strange music; looking at piles of stuff for sale on the sidewalks; weaving in and out of traffic using the horn for navigation; getting dumped in the middle of chaos with no idea where you are.
So, today I will have to figure out what to do with much of the city closed. But that shouldn’t be hard.