So I’m a little behind at the moment. Anna’s been far better at keeping up with being updated with the blog but I’m going to catch up! One thing I’ve found is that now that I’m in control of my holiday and away from the routine of volunteering is that I have a lot LESS idle time. There are far too many distractions when I have the freedom to roam all over an amazing city like Istanbul. In this city there are plenty of awesome sights like the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, The Grand Bazaar etc. And not only that when you’re travelling you have to plan what you want to do and how to get there. Compared to life in the Maldives where the programme organised everything and we were just along for the ride. I can only imagine that it’ll get busier here on out.
We’ve eaten a LOT since being on this trip. Most of it (as shown by Anna) has been delicious but here are some of the stranger things that I’ve tasted in the spirit of adventure
This popular Turkish drink ended upon my table due to a misunderstanding with the waiter. I only asked what “salgam” was not order it. But at three Turkish lira (1.50AUD) I thought I’d give it a whirl. I thought wrong. I took a sip and I was revolted by its sour meaty flavour. Anna described it best as “something that I’d use to cook meat with”. If I read the ingredients first I would have known that I had a bottle of hot fermented carrot juice.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt is that fermented food is a sure sign of a local delicacy that will strongly divides opinion between lovers and haters (vegemite, stinky tofu, century eggs etc). I was not a lover of this one.
That is a tub of drinking yoghurt. It was a bit of shock as I’m used to drinking yoghurt being sweet but this was another sour sensation. I did finish it as it was a great chaser with the kofte (Turkish meatballs). This one gets the thumbs up.
So this dish was a source of argument between me and Anna. I saw it a few times while walking the streets of Istanbul and insisted to Anna that I wanted to try the “sideways kebap”. Anna was adamant that it was no different to a regular kebab it was just in a different orientation. As an engineer I find significance in geometry and spent my last day searching for some so I could finally taste it. And when I did I ran up to it and ordered one. I couldn’t wait to take a bite and see how this was deliciously different to the vertical kebaps. While waiting in anticipation I saw the menu. It HAD ENGLISH! I SAW KOMURDE KOKOREC AND IT WA…wa…was sanitised sheep intestines =/. I had an ambivalent triumph, I was happy I was validated that my assertion was correct but I was also crestfallen as my stomach was churning in fear of taking a bite.
To be honest. It was OK. The intestines were heavily salted and oiled. And they were placed in a bun with tomatoes and fresh red chillis which turned out to be quite nice in a sandwich bun. Despite it being tasty I didn’t finish it as I struggled mentally with the fact that I was eating BBQ poo pipe. Instead I rushed off to get another Turkish staple Ishkal Burger. Which just seemed to be a burger patty in a bun then steamed in ketchup. Delicious.
My crazy cat lady friends take note. Cats are everywhere….here’s a sample of the many feline encounters we had during our stay
Hamam (Turkish Steam Baths)
I know Anna mentioned this in her post. But its worth mentioning again as it IS a unique experience and although it can be a bit scary with the language barrier and not being fully aware of what is going to happen. I also went for a steam, scrub and massage. And like Anna there are helpful attendants ushering me along the way to move onto the next step in the process. Rather than go through the details I’ll step through the event with my thoughts.
- Get naked and having nothing but a tea towel to hide my nakedity. Feel slightly awkward.
- Get sat down on a nice hot stone in a steam room. Muscles relax, feeling relaxed.
- Ali baba shows up to scrub me down. Nice guy but I still felt uncomfortable making eye contact while this 50 year old man is essentially giving me a bubble bath. Feel slightly awkward.
- Getting punched in the gooche as he goes accidentally (I hope) too high with a scrub motion. Feel REALLY awkward.
- Get cleaned up and sent to the massage room for massage. Feeling really relaxed and not too traumatized from the earlier intrusion
Istanbul is a maze of narrow one way streets and to keep traffic flowing rather than use signage they’ve installed devices to encourage vehicles to travel the correct way down one way streets.
This one way dragnet has spike that fold down if you go over them in one direction but then destroy your tires should you travel over it in the other direction. I’m not sure how traffic flows after a car gets completely ruined but as you can see above the locals have found a way to get around these pesky (probably expensive) obstacles by just taping them down when they wish to pass.
Lastly floor numbering. 0 is ground. If you go above 0 its 1, 2, 3… and below 0 its -1, -2, -3… THIS IS AWESOME. I have no idea why but a good labelling system has rustles my jimmies.