Greetings all, and Happy National Sovereignty and Childrens Day in Turkey! (Thats Today)
Today started out like any other day: cold, rainy, and an early morning. In history with Saygin, we did a complete timeline of what we’ve learned so far about Turkey’s rich history. Fascinating stuff, and I wont bug you with the details, But a good time was had by all, in our accent classroom sheltered from the morning rains. As the end of history neared, many of us began dreading visual culture up next. We had scheduled a long walk to Eyup (very similar to my failed route to miniaturk). The cold rain was making us not want to go for such a long walk, but fortunately it cleared up just in time for class!
The weather was actually very nice as we began our walk, and our moods were all instantly changed to positive, and we all joked, laughed and had a good time walking. Ozayr pointed out a few significant sites on our way to Eyup, including the gate that the Latins used to enter the city when they conquered in the early 13th century. We were walking north up the golden horn on the historic side, and following the water would lead us to Eyup. Nobody knew what we were going to Eyup for, but several of us had been there a few weeks ago (when Natalia posted about Eyup). It had been one of the best days that we’d had in Istanbul thus far, and so we were pretty excited to see stuff with Ozayr that we had previously missed.
On the way, we passed a carnival on the edge of the golden horn, most of the way to Eyup. Ozayr had actually recommended the carnival as a precedent to my project when I was making a case for a new ferris wheel in Eminonu. It’s not the best looking park, and definitely needs some TLC. Needless to say, the dingy decrepitness of this carnival is partly a reason it was removed from my proposal.
We arrived in Eyup, and first thing we needed was a Magnum Ice cream bar. We easily found them for sale at a market near the bazaar adjacent to the Eyup mosque. We then headed for the gondola station that would take us up to the top of the cemetery hill that is so famous in Istanbul. Thats when the storm Rolled in. High winds hit and it started raining on us. The weather went from nice and sunny to cold and rainy in a matter of minutes. We were far from home or shelter, so we just had to sit out in the rain and suck it up for a few blocks. Waiting in line for the gondola was quite the chore, and it took over an hour for us to get through the line and up to the top. We all laughed and joked, and had fun waiting in a line that never seemed to move. Luckily we were only stuck in the rain a few minutes, and we found some shelter at the gondola station. Otherwise the wait would have been even worse.
By the time we got to the front of the gondola line, many of us were getting tired, or worried about how long the trip was taking, and we were ready to just go home. But you cant be sad when you meet a couple of clowns handing out free candy, can you? Waiting on the gondola platform, a couple of girls dressed as happy clowns were handing out free candies and small paper turkish flags. They were doing it as part of the National Children’s day! And then the gondola arrived, filled with streamers and balloons! The fun atmosphere created in the gondola definitely lightened all our moods! At the top we all got to enjoy the beautiful view over Istanbul. we began our decent through the cemetery, taking a look at all the beautiful calligraphy on the tombstones, as well as the decorations on top, which tell you who that person might have been. A little over halfway down, we came across the cutest tiny kittens hanging out on a ledge. Even Ozayr stopped to Pet these adorable little furballs!
At the bottom of the hill we arrived at the mosque, which, is quite significant as a pilgrimage mosque for many muslims. The mosque was built in 1458 by Mehmed II who conquered Istanbul. It was built in honor of Eyup Al-Ansari, a friend to the great prophet Muhammed, next to his tomb. It is believed that Mehmed’s Army visited the tomb and was inspired to take over Constantinople. The cemetery has sprung up near the mosque, as a growth of Muslims have desired to be buried near such an important mosque. Unfortunately we did not go inside, due to time constraints, but we got to enjoy a few minutes out in the plaza outside the mosque, which is a very popular place for turks to hang out.
Now that class time had ended, many of us decided to head home and get to work on out studio projects, pack for this weekend’s trips that some are taking, or go grab a nice meal. Personally I was going to ride the bus home, and probably grab a pizza at my favorite pizza shop on the corner by my apartment. They serve many turkish dishes like corba and turkish ravioli (which is soaked in salty yogurt), but also many American classics like pizza and hamburgers. I discovered the place when my family was in town and we wanted the option to get american and turkish food. I suggested the place after having seen Peter eat there a few times. The staff is friendly, the caesar salad is spectacular, and to quote peter: “the Fettucini Alfredo is a new favorite” (he told me after our dinner there on Tuesday). Pete and I have become regulars at the place, Knowing the two main workers on a first name basis. Ali has a solid unibrow and speaks no english, but has come up to me on the street and tried to start conversations with me. Erhan is the main man who speaks english enough to understand our orders and is always really welcoming when we go for a meal. He once chased me to my apartment to give me 3 lira that he had forgotten to give as change. I was just leaving it as a tip, but he insisted I keep it. What a nice honest man. A great face to see in the neighborhood!
Why did I tell you this?
Today Cafe de kofte was closed, for good. I am so disappointed that I had eaten my last meal just two days ago, and had no idea that they would be closing. Today they boarded up the building and gutted it completely. My favorite restaurant in Istanbul just closed up, and know I don’t know why. Peter and I cant go do magic tricks, eat pizza and work out studio ideas like we had done a few times.
Although it was disappointing, it has made for an interesting day. I’ve been up and down all day. Somehow the weather has gotten into my head, and is controlling my life. It rains, I am down, it is sunny, and I am happy. I really wish I could still be in Cappadocia, as it was the best spring break of my life, and probably the most amazing place I’ve ever traveled. I Hope the next three weeks in Istanbul will be filled with adventure, and that we can all make the most out of our remaining time! We still have so much do do in this amazing city, and the clock is ticking!!!
Until next time,