Thursday, 20 February 2014

Walking from Besiktas to Kabatas...

One of many cobbled streets that make up the Grand Bazaar.
When I awoke this morning and looked out the window I thought the fog was still hanging heavy over Istanbul, but was pleasantly surprised, when I reached the breakfast room on the sixth floor, to discover that, by and large, it had lifted. Later I saw planes coming in to land at Istanbul airport so I knew that I wouldn't be stranded here for the weekend.

As has been my routine the last couple days, I took the tram from Beyazit to Kabatas and then a taxi to Besiktas and the Renaissance Hotel. Today it was a little smoother than normal and for no particular reason. I jumped on the tram, got off at Kabatas, jumped into a cab, showed him the address of the hotel and off we went; I arrived on time and enjoyed my last day at the conference, which finished at 1530hrs.
The Grand Bazaar – honestly, it's amazing...
The weather was perfect. It was like a spring day in the UK and I decided to walk from Besiktas to Kabatas and not draw money from a cashpoint. By walking I figured I'd be getting some exercise and saving the company a bit of money too. I was longing to get back to the magic carpet land of Beyazit, home of the Grand Bazaar. Up in the Besiktas area it's a bit, I don't know, a bit officey, a bit Croydon and it was odd how, when I set forth from the Renaissance Hotel on foot, the landscape grew more and more Indiana Jones as I walked towards Kabatas.
Another scene from Istanbul's Grand Bazaar...
It was a pleasant walk. The sun was shining and by the time I reached my destination I'd been walking for around 40 to 45 minutes – a good work-out and much needed as I had been sitting down most of the week.
Child mannequins – slightly spooky.
There's a first time for everything, of course, and today, for the first time, I saw a couple of cats shagging. In the UK this is not only rare, it's probably non-existent, but bearing in mind all the manky little street cats that populate Istanbul it's probably not so rare for inhabitants of this great city. I was tempted to take a photograph – the cats in question didn't seem too concerned about having an  audience – but it felt wrong so I passed on by and jumped on a tram bound for Beyazit.

Once off the tram I headed for the Grand Bazaar and was bowled over by its size and the fact that it was an Aladdin's Cave of all sorts of things: carpets, lamps, trinkets, lanterns, mirrors, boxes, everything and very colourful (see photos for proof).

The President Hotel's 'seasonal fruits' – seriously tasty, trust me...
Having walked from Besiktas to Kabatas and then having walked around the Grand Bazaar, I headed towards the harbourside with a view to eating a meal outside of the hotel. What a mistake! I hummed and hah'd to myself as to which restaurant to pick, but eventually found myself being cajoled by the manager of the Beyaz fish restaurant, who was standing outside trying to drum up custom.
The further away from Besiktas, the better the scenery. This was near Kabatas.
There were many problems. Some advice: never eat in a restaurant that has photographs of the food on the menu; never eat in a restaurant that has a television; and never eat in a restaurant with a crappy-looking menu. The Beyaz fish restaurant had it all, and yet it promised so much: right by the sea, a seafood-based menu, surely this was going to be something special, but no, it was crap and I felt cheated.
Down by the water's edge – the Bosphorous near Kabatas.
I ordered sole, but it wasn't succulent. It didn't fall off the bone and, well, it was just rubbish. Accompanying two sole fillets (which were shrivelled and lacked any real meat) was a quarter of a raw onion, some rubbishy McDonald's-style French Fries and a rocket salad. Toasted bread rolls were also offered, but I wasn't happy. I'd ordered a 'shrimp' salad of sorts, but it was completely tasteless and the only decent thing about the meal was the half bottle of wine. I sat there, no newspaper, nothing, just a blank expression on my face.
Back in Beyazit and close to the Grand Bazaar
It took a while of reasoning with myself, but my mind was made up. I was sitting there dreaming of how pleasant it was in the restaurant at The President hotel where I was staying and so I started thinking seriously about what I'd eaten and whether there was any possible excuse for having two evening meals. My reasoning was simple: what had I actually eaten? Well, that was easy: a handful of French fries, a couple of slivers of sole (it was on the bone so I spent miles too much time separating the flesh from the bone and not actually eating much in the way of fish. Alright, I'd had one bread roll and the prawns, but the 'shrimps' were tiny and tasteless so, in reality, all I'd eaten was a handful of chips and a half bottle of wine. I asked for the bill and left, climbing the hill to The President hotel and then taking the lift straight to the 7th floor where I took my seat, ordered chicken breast with rice and vegetables followed by my favourite dessert, none other than 'seasonal fruits'. Perhaps I shouldn't have ordered a glass of wine, but I needed to feel chilled out and the Beyaz fish restaurant had not achieved that for me.

I sat there gazing out over the twinkling lights of night-time Istanbul, watching the headlights of cars weaving their way here and there. Things had worked out fine, but only just and I did feel a tad guilty about 'pulling up a chair' and enjoying what amounted to another meal, although I was still starving hungry, thanks to that long walk earlier.

Tomorrow a late start and then departure – at 1330hrs – for the airport and a flight back to London Heathrow. I'm desperate to get home. It's fine being here and I'm glad I've paid a visit to this fantastic city, but there's no place like home and my work here is done. I'll nip out tomorrow morning to explore a bit more and, hopefully, find a decent 'caff' for my other blog about teashops and caffs (click here for a direct link).

No comments:

Post a Comment