I thoroughly enjoyed this last March at a restaurant in Istanbul – sole baked in salt. Succulent, perfectly cooked, with just the right hint of saltiness. Delicious! This was the first time I tried it, but it’s not a process unique to Turkey. I’ve seen it on menus in Spain, Italy, France and Greece. Jake: Anything similar in or around Manila?
I haven’t been around here much for the past week, which is more or less par for the course during the hazy summer months. Missed me?
‘For Sale‘ is this week’s #FriFotos theme on twitter, affording this quick glance back into when my camera met commerce head-on in various parts of the world. I’m unapologetically anal about tagging photos in my flickr stream but the ones I decided to include here weren’t found that way.
Rather, they were all snapped fragments of memory of buying, selling and browsing that immediately popped into my mind when the theme was announced. Some quite vividly. I was particularly pleased to recall the few shots below taken in Nicaragua –the bottom one, 22 years ago– now that I’m beginning to read up on the country again, trying to catch up on a lapse of nearly a decade-and-a-half. I visited there five times since 1990; my planned return sometime next year will be my first since 1999.
Enjoy, and I hope you’re making the most of whichever heatwave you’re currently a part of.
- Rooftops… (pirancafe.com)
How strange, when your father’s wearing women’s clothes and platform shoes, that a pair of loafers looks incredible.
- Moon Unit Zappa
I’m the most utilitarian shopper and consumer when it comes to shoes. But these, resting peacefully in a large crate in a small bazaar near the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, I found oddly appealing. These boots below, from the Grand Bazaar, not so much. But they’re all colorful, which is this week’s #Frifotos twitter theme.
The quote? It just brought on a chuckle since I couldn’t remember the last time I thought about Moon Unit Zappa. I hope she’s doing just fine.
The Love Tea immediately caught my eye. Can’t hurt, right? Unfortunately the 250g I bought was left in a bag in my hotel room. And so it goes. I can only hope the next occupant made use of it as it was meant to be used.
This, and the pics below, were taken last week at the Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul, popularly and more simply known as the Spice Market. It’s a massive L-shaped arcade-style building with 88 rooms located near the waterfront on the Golden Horn, in the shadow of the ‘New Mosque‘ on Eminönü Square.
Like the Grand Bazaar, which I didn’t particularly care for (more on that another time), the Spice Market is quite the tourist attraction as well, but it’s also a place where plenty of locals shop. “More than half,” one shopkeeper told me. From the sounds of the non-stop lively commerce, I had no reason to doubt him.
Obviously, piles and piles of colorful spices abound. The colors are blindingly delicious, the scents delectably delightful. But there’s plenty more besides tea and spice. Like shoes, unfortunately.
And LOTS of sugar, too. About half the shops in the Bazaar sell sweets, primarily a countless variety of Turkish Delight, or Lokum. These items aren’t as ‘gourmet’ as they appear – they’re mainly flavored jelly and cornstarch. But they’re good. The huge blocks are nuts glued together with a sweet gel.
And if it’s not spicy or sweet, it’s nutty or fruity. None of it is particularly cheap, by the way. Prices for various nuts, dried fruit and figs, for example, were on par with prices here in Slovenia or in markets I’ve visited in various cities in France, Italy or Spain.
But just as interesting to me was what was outside, mainly the handful of stalls with a nice variety and selection of fresh fish. But to get to them you first have to walk past a stalls where you could buy a machine to roll grape leaves…
I had seafood in Istanbul six of the eight nights I was there, and couldn’t get enough. It’s reason enough to return.
Shopping tips? Just a few:
- Taste and smell before you buy
- Look for shops and stalls who clearly specialize in something
- Go where the locals go
- Avoid buying cheesy souvenirs here, and
- Don’t leave your Love Tea behind.
By the way, I didn’t feel like fumbling around with my SLR, so these were all shot on my Sony HDR CX350VE video cam.
Last week I came across the travel blog Budget Travelers Sandbox which hosts Travel Photo Thursday (#TPThursday on twitter), and am delighted to join in this week. When you have few minutes to browse, check out host Nancie’s photos and those of others who take part. You’ll see some great photos and visit some wonderful places. The link to this week’s post and links is here.
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Previous Istanbul posts:
- 45 Second Cheap Hotel Advisor – Istanbul
- 60 seconds with the Bird Seed Sellers of Istanbul
- The Dandy Dozen – My 12 Favorite Mannequins in Istanbul
- 40+ Creative Commons Licensed Images of Istanbul now Available
- 1 min w/ skull & bones on Galip dede Caddesi, Istanbul
- Hotel Pic of the Day – Sheraton Atakoy Istanbul
- Light in Babylon – Istanbul Street Music Quickie
- Small Collection of Blocked Websites in Turkey
Akbiyik Degirmeni Sk no:46
That is the view from one of the two small rooftop terraces. It’s taken with a zoom but yes, this budget hotel is really that close to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district. Pretty nice, no?
The rooms were a bit small but comfortable, there’s free wifi throughout, and the breakfast (included) was quite good, a blend of western and local, with the emphasis on the local. All that, plus a very hospitable and welcoming staff, for 35 EUR/46 USD/night (I booked through venere.com).
What’s most appealing is the location, set on a quiet mostly residential street but less than a 10 minute walk from the Blue Mosque. Both the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market/Eminonu Square were a leisurely 20 minute stroll away. Nearest tram stop is Sultanahmet (2 TL per ride), roughly midway between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, is also a 10 minute walk. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants just a short walk away as well.
It’s a bit difficult to find initially, so be sure you give your cab driver the exact address. Taxi ride to the airport (40 TL/16.50 EUR/22 USD) took just over 20 minutes in mid-morning but you should probably give yourself twice that.
Oh almost forgot: the wall surrounding the courtyard is 1600 years old.
(I stayed at the Sphendon for three nights, 12-15 March 2012).
Another shot for Vimeo’s 1 Minute Project, and yet another attempt at trying to capture a glimmer of beauty in the mundane. I wondered if the women learned patience from the birds, or vice versa.
This is at Eminonu Square in front of the Yeni, or New Mosque, on the Golden Horn near the Galata Bridge. As you can probably guess from the sellers’ wardrobe, it was windy and chilly, not the best conditions in which to hold my camera still for 60 seconds.
I forgot to ask how much a plate of seeds cost. Does anyone know?
1 Minute Project rules: the video must be exactly one minute long (the clip is), remain unedited, have no camera movement (ie panning, tilting, etc), and should only use original sound.
Istanbul, 14 March 2012, 11:48am.
A few more photos:
If you’ve spent any time zipping through my flickr stream, you’d have noticed a regular and steady supply of mannequin shots. I snap pics of quite a few but I have no idea why. Maybe it’s just because they’re good at standing still when their photo is being taken. Like this one:
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that they tend to adapt varying looks and attitudes in different parts of the world – but not as you might imagine. Mannequins on Shanghai’s Nanjing Road shopping street don’t necessarily look like their ancestors were natives of the east Chinese coast. Just like those in the main bazaar in Rabat don’t have much in common with Berbers. I’ve also noticed that like most throwaway consumer products these days, many mannequins too are being produced with as little attention as possible to detail, craftsmanship or durability. They too are as trashy as the junk they’re trying to sell. Case in point:
Here’s the rest of my diligently selected dandy dozen I came across while strolling about the rain and chill of Istanbul last week. This one appears to be held together with every piece of stretchable medical supply that this shop sells.
Do people really do this to their children?
And the rest!
This is a lottery ticket seller on Galip dede Caddesi, not far from Istanbul’s bustling Istiklal Caddesi pedestrian thoroughfare. When the gentleman saw I was getting ready to snap a photo, he quickly removed his cap, fixed his hair, and then carried on making idle chat with passers-by.
It’s also one of 41 photos –the first batch of several– from my recent visit to Istanbul that I’ve uploaded to my flickr stream that are now available for use under a Creative Commons license. More specifically, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, or CC BY-NC-SA, and I only ask that credit is given as specified with each photo. Strictly non-commercial, please. Follow the links if you’re not sure.
I’ve got about a dozen stories and videos in the works collected from my first, and unfortunately brief, visit to this amazing city, which I’ll be posting over the next few weeks. And plenty more photos, too.
I’ve got nearly 1300 photos available with the same CC license on my flickr stream. For previous updates, check the creative commons tag here on Piran Café.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
I really enjoy the 1 Minute Project on Vimeo, an attempt to take a brief pause to watch moments that are usually overlooked, never acknowledged and otherwise forgotten. As the title suggests, it’s simply a one-minute record of and from a place where you choose to turn on a camera – sometimes they can be visually interesting and even appealing, sometimes not so much. But those 60 seconds are now there and recorded for posterity’s sake.
This was shot on Galip dede Caddesi (Street) on 14-Mar-2012, not far from Istanbul’s busy Istiklal Caddesi pedestrian thoroughfare. It’s handheld, so apologies for the slight movement.
1 Minute project rules: the video must be exactly one minute long (the clip is), remain unedited, have no camera movement (ie panning, tilting, etc), and should only use original sound.
After a pair of cold and rainy days, the sun made a brief appearance here in Istanbul this afternoon. I decided that it wasn’t coincidence that I came across the band Light in Babylon soon thereafter jamming on Istiklal Avenue, this city’s busiest pedestrian thoroughfare. The wet and chill left me with a cold; the trio’s music blanketed it with a smile. Thank you.
You’re welcome to download and use these creative commons images (non-commercial use only).
This is vocalist Michal Elia Kamal – captivating voice.
Metehan Çiftçi playing the Santur, a Persian hammered dulcimer:
and guitarist Julien Demarque:
I bought their CD, Life Sometimes Doesn’t Give You Space, and you should too. I’m looking forward to giving it a listen when I’m back home in Ljubljana Wednesday afternoon. Hopefully they’ll let me use a song or two in some Istanbul videos I’ll be working on over the next couple weeks. Maybe if I ask really nicely.
Okay, okay. By popular demand, one more picture of Michal Elia:
More specifically, sites blocked by the hotel wifi service at the Sheraton Ataköy in Istanbul over the past couple days. I was able to get through to them from LAN lines elsewhere in the hotel and elsewhere in the city. I’m switching hotels on Monday to something a bit more modest – there’s wifi there and I’m now really curious how different, if at all, that firewall will be.
Back to this Sheraton. The first, Wikipedia’s English language page, is a fairly standard choice among censors worldwide and appears on many ‘blocked website’ greatest hits lists.
This was a bit odd, a link to results from the World Indoor Track & Field Championships, going on right now here in Istanbul. Click to enlarge and see the terms detailed, which are a bit baffling to me.
Next. Probably not the first time Boing Boing is blocked somewhere.
Moving on, this is the stats page for this blog. I can confirm that those terms do appear. But the reasons aren’t nearly as exciting as those doing the blocking want to believe. Turkey had some previous problems with wordpress which I thought were relegated to history.
And finally, a link to a post on shirtofflame.com, where the blogger had some very nice things to say about Piran Café. (Many thanks again, Heather!). The problem here appears to be a wider blanket block on all of blogspot.
I’ll post more later in the week if I come across any others.
I started reading Istanbul: Memories and the City a few nights ago and found this of particular interest.
Over the past several weeks, Granta, my favorite litmag, has been republishing pieces written by the 12 Nobel laureates whose work has appeared in the magazine since its modern incarnation in 1979.
Among them is an interview with Orham Pamuk conducted on December 13, 2005, one year before he won the Nobel and three days before he infamously went on trial in Istanbul for ‘publicly denigrating Turkish identity’ when he told a Swiss journalist: “Thirty thousand Kurds have been killed here, and a million Armenians. And almost nobody dares to mention that. So I do.” The charges were later dropped on a technicality, but the hatred from the right at home –along with the occasional death threat– continued.
I need certain things to write with some pleasure and intensity. If we leave aside paper and fountain pen, tea and coffee, what I need most is a certain irresponsibility. It is essential for writing fiction, at least for me: I need a playful irresponsibility, to twist everything in life, to turn situations around, to look for childish irony in the gravest drama, to organize the subtle ambiguities from which fiction arises. But now, I’m expected to be clarifying, clarifying, clarifying my statements. This lost spirit of irresponsibility —this childish freedom— is what I’m hoping to gain back. Because the more this affair grows, the greater the social responsibility that I have to face, and it is suffocating.
I am grateful for the international attention, and the backing of the liberal-leftist intellectuals here. It definitely makes me protected. But on the other hand, I feel that I have to answer this attention. One feels obliged. And that affects your imagination. And slowly this responsibility may convert you into a political commentator, or an activist, or a person with strong ideas. I’m not like that and I don’t want to be a person who cares about ideas more than life.
He and interviewer Maureen Freely, who has translated most of his works, then go on a tour of Istanbul, revisiting the setting of his novel, The Black Book.
photo via wikipedia