Day 12 - Istanbul

It was rainy and grey this morning, definitely a black & white photo day. First port of call was to buy an umbrella and then we walked the 5 minutes to Hagia Sofia but the line was too long, probably cause everyone has to bag their shoes when they take them off cause they're wet. One of the best things about cities like this is the street vendors, I love the smell and it reminds me of NYC. Simit (a dense bread knot), roasted chestnuts, corn on the cob, cheese and tomato rolls, mussels, lokma, fresh fruit and juices....you could survive very easily without ever going into a shop. And it's all super cheap too. Bought a 0.5l bottle of water today for 35c aud, a Simit is 70c.

We went to the Yerebatan Sarnıcı hich is a huge underground water cistern built by the Romans. Legend has it Medusa used to stay down there before her snake hair days and there are two huge statues of her right in the far corner. You walk around on a raised platform above the water, huge columns with Roman styling hold it together. It's also super dark so no phone photos, we probably got more wet down there than if we stayed in the rain.

We caught a tram up to Taksim and had a proper coffee, kinda strange after 2 weeks. Walked all the way down Istiklal Cadessi which is one of the main shopping streets, past all sorts of arcades, shops, kebap restaurants, khave bars, clothing stores. Not too many western brands. Abdullah had given us a recommendation for the best Turkish Delight in Istanbul, so we stopped in and bought 0.5kg. So cheap, it was about $6aud.

We strayed into the back streets of Tünel and Şişhane and wandered around looking at all the buildings and people going about their everyday business. A lot of the buildings are very very old and run down, typical of eastern Europe. Even though this side of town is technically on the Asian continent. There are also cats everywhere, they're not mangey at all really and seem well fed. They add a bit to the streets anyway.

We have made a point of avoiding any main street eateries or coffee places, trying to eat where the locals do and it's been way more fun and I hazard a guess at better food too. Any place that has someone approach us to get is in is also off the list (this happens a lot). So the places we've been visiting haven't been fancy, but the food is so good.

We walked across the bridge over the river after checking out the little fish market and saw the boats selling fish rolls (balık ekmek) but couldn't really stomach fish (sorry Rowdy!) so I had fresh Lokma (donuts in syrup) instead. Took a lot of street photos and had sore feet after walking on cobblestone streets all day (it's a hard life) we quit and went home.

Went back out and found a nice and legit place for dinner and finished the night the same way we did last night: beers, Tavla, śişha.

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