After a long touristy day, with only a light snack at Topkapi we were quite hungry after visiting the Blue Mosque. The time wasn’t quite right for a local dinner, but since it was already past five our stomachs were more or less screaming for food.
We thought that we would walk across the Hippodrome and a few blocks away, to escape the touristy area and prices. We didn’t. As everyone who has travelled anywhere but Finland will know, a proper restaurant will have someone at the door marketing their services. We fell for the first guy hardly a block away from the Hippodrome. He promised us the heaven and earth and a free meal if we weren’t satisfied. With our screaming tummies, we jumped at the chance of food and took the few stairs down to the Dubb Kebab Restaurant. The place didn’t look bad at all on the outside, and was pretty quaint on the inside. When we are tourists, near a tourist location, we still have our “dreams” of truly local places. Those local places exist only in our dreams. With an integrated world, we find the same trends, furniture and menus all over. Damn!
The menus were excellent. Almost every dish had a picture, mostly with the Turkish name on it. Way better than any European, American or Australian restaurant I’ve ever visited. Who cares what it’s called in your own language, as long as it looks appetising. I like Mediterranean food, so the starters were more or less a comparison: hummus, halloumi salad and cacık (tzaziki). And there are differences between the Mediterranean countries. Everyone has their own mix of ingredients, and even raw materials so you get different tastes. Lovely.
We both fancied some grilled meat, lamb in this case. I had the çöp shish and Jaana chose the traditional shish kebab. Lovely. Yes, dinner was tasty and lovely. Since we were early, we were the only customers around, so you can imagine that the service was quite attentive. Not perfect, but great. For dessert, we chose something we didn’t know anything about, künefe. Some sort of cheese with pastry around it, smothered in honey and warmed in the oven, topped off with some Turkish ice-cream. Heavy duty. I remembered to take a picture at the end of the meal, this is what we could devour.
After a meal like this, all one could do is dream about getting to bed. So we walked in the general direction of the Grand Bazaar, with our touristy see-through umbrellas, and ended up in a shop selling Turkish delight. The young gentleman was kind enough to help us get some real stuff, not the ones boxed and wrapped in cellophane. They are supposedly factory made and all dried out by the time they are boxed. We actually got to taste all the stuff we wanted to buy. And the very helpful young gentleman wrapped our stuff in a box of our choice, and then vacuum wrapped it. With a full stomach, cold feet and a yearning for bed, I paid full face value, without haggling a bit. Sad, since he didn’t even offer us a cup of tea. A mistake he tried to fix, when we passed by the next day.
Rain, wind and cold calls for a taxi. I’ve bee told that most taxis are reliable, occasionally you’ll find the rotten apple. We jumped into the first one right outside the Turkish Delight-shop. The driver actually spoke very good English, and put the meter on right away. He said that our journey might be more expensive than usual, since it was raining and that makes Istanbul absolutely unbearable. He drove in the general direction of our hotel, taking any and all shortcuts he could think of. Anyone who has watched Mythbusters will know, that in traffic, nothing will help. But if you are a taxi-driver in Istanbul, innovative driving and re-routing is your thing. The price was only about double what we paid for the trip in the morning.
All in all, we had great day.