Last night, we aimed to eat out at a local restaurant not far away from here, but it was closed.
It was the Eid, after all and we didn’t expect small, local restaurants to be open on the equivalent of our Christmas Day!
Our lovely hotel guide thankfully had a back up plan and took us to one of the touristy parts of the town, to Kalamar, a fish restaurant.
We were told all day yesterday that the Turks would be celebrating and knowing how family-oriented the Muslim culture is, I did expect the place to be full of foreigners.
Young and restless local Turks were out with their girlfriends and close friends, having their bayram with loud drum music, singing and dancing (on tables, Emma would add!) and plenty of food and drink!
On the second day of Eid, the atmosphere in Istanbul reminds one of European countries on Boxing Day.
Tranquility. Contentment. Peace.
We had a day planned in the Bazaar, which is only two tram stops away from the hotel where we are staying but sadly(for us), it was closed on account of the religious celebrations.
Instead, we decided to have a relaxed day and take part in the merrymaking implicitly, by buying sweets for relatives and friends at home and absorbing in the city’s somnolence from a shady narghile and coffee shop.
The coffee shop we stopped in had plenty of locals smoking what must have been their morning narghile and we joined in unassumingly. We even bought chocolate cake from the sweet shop next door, to blend in completely ;-)! Our narghile and cake came to around £10, not bad for an authentic experience in the heart of town!
The sea could be seen from the top of the hill and after the narghile, we decided to stroll down towards it.
Having crossed below the Bazaar tram stop, we seemed to have left the noise and busyness of the tourist shops behind and we found ourselves merging into the very heart of what the real Istanbul is.
Small coffee shops where Turkish men(only) gather for a game of tavli and a chat, under the thick shade of the old trees.
Street vendors who sell you orange juice for a lira. Always, always with a smile on their face:
Appealing(and much more reasonably priced than the ones close to the Blue Mosque) food shops, like Fatih Kofte, where old Turks appear quietly shortly after midday, for a çorba, a bit of warm, freshly baked in the stone oven bread and a sweet:
Our lunch of chicken, veggies and mash(for Emma) and a kebap plate for us was 30 lira, again, around £7.00. It is 7 p.m. and I am still to feel hungry after our filling meal. Oh, and ladies, the place features CLEAN, European toilets so if you are allergic to holes in the ground, then do stop by :-)!
We loved our second day in Istanbul!
We are heading back to Thessaloniki tomorrow afternoon but we will definitely try to squeeze in some more adventures before departure!