Traces of the past

I had the most delightful day today. I slept in, and woke up just in time to make my reservation for a fine dining restuarant that Ive been dying to try. The place is called Asitane, and it is a well-known Ottoman style restaurant. They claim that they have extensively researched historical texts to try to reconstruct authentic Ottoman cuisine. The menu sounded so delicious that I was tempted to eat it, but I refrained and settled on ordering spice minced meat baked inside a winter melon. Oh my goodness, I want to die and be reincarnated as an Ottoman princess. The meal was definitely worth the full day’s pay that I spent on it.

After the meal, I decided to walk around in the neighborhood. I got a great surprise– I encountered the walls of Constantinople. I didn’t even know they were still standing. They stretch down as far as you can see, almost as if there’s still a kingdom behind them. I could almost imagine being there, and having my minced meat and melon served to me on a crystal plate.

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Further down, after the walls end, the neighborhood gets a little sketchy. It’s a very poor neighborhood, and I was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable. It was very interesting to walk through, though, because the neighborhood seems to be suspended in time. It was meal-time, and the wood-burning stoves were all ablaze. The blasts of face-level smoke that they sent out of their make-shift plastic-pipe chimneys was comforting in the cool afternoon. And as I continued, I came to an overlook with a view of the valley that I had just walked through. I stopped and had a tea, and looked at the details of all the streets below. I could see people converging on the mosques at prayer time, peacocks roaming around the streets, and a man pushing a cart of tea along the uneven, cobblestone road. It really is a pittoresque city.

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Next, I found my way back down to the main road, and I took it to a new destination: Eyup. Here, you can walk up to the old haunt of a famous writer, Pierre Loti. The walk up the hill goes through a forest cemetery, and it was one of the most peaceful places I’ve found in Istanbul. Tree-covered places are rare and welcome here. At the top of the hill, there is a cafe with the most delicious apple tea. Apple tea tastes like hot apple juice, but much sweeter. I’m not sure how they make it, but it’s the perfect thing to pick you up after you’ve been walking a long time.

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After all of this, I was tired, so I headed home for a long slumber. Thus concluded a very cheery, sleepy, satisfying Saturday.

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