All the women walking around in headscarves and Prada sunglasses in Istanbul look so badass I want to start wearing the hajib myself. I had no idea a city of 14 million could be so hip, so welcoming, so cool. But it's not without its problems.
We took a taxi out to the famous Chora Church built in the year 500-something, which turned out to be half-closed for renovations--thanks website for not telling us. I could have lived without seeing the mosaic-covered narthex, but it would have been nice to have not paid $50 for the taxi ride back that because of traffic only took us as far as the metro.
I might have enjoyed the metro ride if we'd known where the metro WAS. Instead we walked around the plaza of the new mosque where a political rally had just ended. Looking for the metro we got swept away with a crowd heading down some stairs, hoping it was the metro, but no--a crush of hajib-and-Prada sunglasses-wearers swept us into the bowels of an underground shopping street? Passage to the bridge? I don't even know. Finally we dragged ourselves out of the riptide of people and regrouped.
And I wouldn't have minded going back up the stairs, against the flow of humanity to the body-slamming plaza if the vans there weren't screaming political statements from loud-speakers.
After demanding directions from an unsuspecting waiter, we found the metro station, and then figured out the metro's magic-token system. I love it when the metro is so crowded it hurts, and then at every stop, no one gets off, but a ton of people crush themselves on.
That experience, together with Peter shouting from the ATM "IS 500 DOLLARS ENOUGH?" on the most crime-ridden plaza in the world made me feel like a savvy-traveler.
Later, wandering the Spice Market we bought loose Turkish black tea. The tea vendor filled a cup with dried roses, pomegranate flowers, jasmin and chamomile, poured hot water over the whole thing and handed it to me.
Half-closed churches, over-priced taxi rides, screaming loud speakers and crushing metro rides? Istanbul's got the anwer for that problem and it's one of my favorite things in the world: tea.