"Yeah, I'm goin' to Taksim"

Taksim is one of our favourite new places. "We've been talkin' 'bout Taksim, ever since the fire went out." (For those of you who aren't familiar with Johnny Cash, the quotes are references to his song "Jackson".) Old cobblestone streets and architecture paired with modern shops create a unique vibe in this popular neighbourhood. We have spent a couple of days wandering the streets, perusing the shops, and eating the local specialties. Here are the highlights of our Taksim adventures:

***NOTE: You can click on the pictures to get a closer look at them!***

1)  Here Fishy, Fishy: After wandering the streets on our first trip to Taksim, we decided to stop for lunch in "Balik Pazari" (the "Fish Market" district). This district is full of fishmongers and seafood restaurants. We found a restaurant that we thought looked appealing, and sat down to our first fresh fish meal in Turkey. After examining the menu, we decided to each try a different kind of fish so that we could share our lunch. The restaurant had a deal with the fishmonger across the street. The restaurant buys all of their fish from the stand across from them, so you can actually pick your fish from them before you order. The prices looked reasonable at about $15 per serving of fish. The waiter brought over a large red snapper, so we decided to share one fish (instead of ordering two) and order a calamari appetizer. The calamari was delicious, the snapper was quite plain, but good. The waiter took the liberty of ordering apple tea for us, which we loved. The big surprise was the bill... it was not $15 per ORDER of fish, but $15 per 100 GRAMS of fish. We ended up having a $75 lunch - definitely the most expensive lunch we have ever had! It was a mistake that we will surely not repeat, but it was a treat and an experience that had us laughing later that night.

Denny in front of Bakil Pazari

Our lunch selection

2) Stretchy Ice-Cream: This is something that we had been very curious about. Turkish ice-cream ("dondurma") is... different. Denny loves it. Amanda is undecided. It contains thickening agents called "salep", a flour made from the root of the Early Purple Orchid, and "mastic", a resin, making it thick, stretchy, and a little chewy. The dondurma stands are very entertaining, with men doing tricks with the ice-cream to attract tourists. We walked right into the tourist trap; the man tricked Denny into buying a cone by using him as a prop in his show, getting him to take a bite of the ice-cream cone, and then charging him for it. It was all in good fun, though.

Dondurma tourist trap. Look at the stretchy ice-cream!
3) Hello Kitty!: There are cats everywhere in Turkey! Cats run wild in the streets. They are cared for by shop keepers, who leave food out for them. Many of these cats have the same colourings and markings as Hero. On more than one occasion, Amanda has fought the urge to take one home but Denny has always stopped her. Place your bets now - will we come home with one or two cats? haha

Hanging Out

The one who ALMOST came home with us.

4) Galata Tower: While we were walking the streets of Taksim we happened upon an interesting looking tower. We soon learned that this tower is one of the oldest towers in the world; it was first built in the year 528. It has been repaired several times and was restored to its original appearance from 1964-1967. The 360 degree view from the outdoor observation deck at the top of the tower offered an amazing view of the Golden Horn (river), Galata Bridge, and the "Old City" across the river. In the 1600s an Ottoman legend named Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi constructed artificial wings and actually flew from the top of the tower across the Bosphorus Strait to the slopes of Uskudar nearly 6 kilometers away! The Galata Tower offers dinner and cabaret with Turkish folk dance and belly dancers in the evenings, so we are planning another trip in the near future. Here are some pictures of the sights we saw from the top of the Galata Tower.

The Galata Tower

Denny and Amanda at the top of Galata Tower


Panoramic View from Left to Right: Topkapı Palace, the
Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque,
the New Mosque (below - by the bridge)

The Galata Bridge

The Wings

We hope you enjoyed learning about our adventures in Taksim. We are just scratching the surface of what there is to see in Istanbul!

2 Response to ""Yeah, I'm goin' to Taksim""

  1. Tozer says:
    September 28, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    I love all your pictures Amanda they are great. I think you should keep at least one kitty because hero needs a friend. Are your students treating your nicely ? looks like you are having amazing time.

  2. Amanda and Denny are... says:
    September 29, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    Yeah!! You figured out how to comment! lol I agree that Hero needs a friend... although she's not that friendly to other cats who steal her thunder. On second thought, I think it's me who wants another kitty friend! The students here are very chatty, but very nice. We are having a great time so far. We have two spare rooms for you to choose from should you ever feel like jumping on a plane...

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