Istanbul – a city of shopkeepers?

They line the bridge on both sides of the Bosporus avoiding only the center section where the fries run. Men of mostly older ages with poles, reels, bait pails and styrofoam chest starting full of ice when they arrive to preserve the hoped for catch It is up to the pedestrians to avoid the casting just as it personal responsibility not to stand in the center of the sidewalk interfering with the flow of hurrying people. The cars are topside as well while the tram runs in the middle shaking the bridge as it crosses. There are restaurants on the lower level complete with waitstaff aggressively accosting everyone walking past while extolling the virtues of their freshly caught fish.

At this time of day it seems to be mostly men on the street with the air reeking from their unfiltered cigarettes. After heading up hill toward the Grand Bazaar there are more and more couples and women. The young are strolling; infected with smart phoneitis and oblivious to their surroundings. Cats and carts with roasted chestnuts. Mosques, schools and shops; the old is intermixed with the new featuring marble, glass and Burger King.

It’s a nice hike. I am sort of following the tram tracks. I pass Haga Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the Archeological Museum, the Mosaic Museum. The sidewalks become more crowded as it gets later. Inside the Grand Bazaar I wend my way through alley after shop. All the merchants are shilling their goods. Avoiding eye contact and if forced to answer I am using a polite but firm no thanks in German. The method seems to work as many of them start scrambling for the right pitch.

But I don’t need souvenirs, carpets, mosaics, purses, bags, shirts, jackets, leather goods and certainly not antiques. There are head scarves and shawls everywhere. There are not that many women here with head coverings. A few who do are dressed traditionally, but there are a lot of bright colors and cheerful patterns worn by young women in jeans and motorcycle boots. Did I mention the ubiquitous leather jacket? In normal colors plus Russian decorated with fur and glitz?

I hiked back to the ship in afterwork traffic just ahead of the falling dark. Feeling pretty good about the 10 km hike out, back and around I was no pleased to find my FitBit had once again lost its charge in less than two days.

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