Also in Istanbul

Today we are at sea (as well as tomorrow) as we sail to our last port stop in Naples.

Rather than head back to the old city again I elected to hike up the hills on this side in a effort to find the tower and perhaps take a leisurely stroll down the main shopping street. Three km of pedestrian zone? No? Well part of it at least.

It turned out to be fairly easy. Straight up the hill from the Tophane tram stop. Past the very friendly chocolate lab and sunning cats. Avoiding the garbage trucks on their pickup rounds and the occasional taxi flying down the hill oblivious yo the uphill spikes set across the road at reguksr intervals. Street so narrow there is barely room for a pedestrian on the sidewalk to either side of s passing vehicle.

Suddenly, there I am facing a street busy with antique appearing trams, service vehicles and bustling shoppers. Turning away from the harbor I start to stroll.

Once again chestnuts are on offer at practically ever corner. The other food vendor carts start to multiply as the morning slips toward noon. There are sales everywhere with prices clearly posted; often less than those in the Bazaar. Since haggling leaves me cold, I find this more comfortable.

I pass the Greek Consulate with its meters high picture of sailing vessels on the wall while music pours from a nearby bookstore at deafening levels. All the usual suspects of international store chains are here: Gap, Diesel, Medianart, BK, the non-Scottish restaurant, LaCosta, Swatch….what you don’t see are carpet shops or leather goods. If that it what you want, I think everyone – local and tourist alike – heads to the Grand Bazaar area.

I turned at the monument and flowersrket to head back down the hill. You can find just about anything to eat from honey soaked baclava through kebabs, kebabs, smørbrot to elegant sit down meals with wine. Alcohol is freely and plentifully available. Remember what I said about a modern, secular country? I passed the catholic church set back behind iron gates. The short sturdy women of indeterminate age only distinguishable from their Muslim counterparts by how they wear their head scarves.

I finished the afternoon at the Istanbul Modern. Normally Art museums are just not my thing perhaps due to an over exposure in 1972 while backpacking in Europe. I take it all back. It was more than worth the time. Presenting modern art from the end of the Califats through today the exhibits were intelligently presented. Providing enough background to understand both the artist and social context. Obviously I hadn’t been aware of how integrated the Turkish artists had been in the Paris Art Scene at the turn of the last century. Nor how many women were involved and respected during that time. Government grants provided subsidies for study abroad to the best. It is notable that all the ties appear to be to the West.

Some of it I like, some absolutely not with a fair amount of I just don’t get it sprinkled between.

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