|Istanbul - a City of Intrigue
Story by Caroline M. Jackson
Photos by Hamish Jackson
lady. I like your hat. Can I buy your hat for my mother?” With arms extended,
my charming Turkish protagonist made a vain attempt to beckon me into his shop
which cascaded with curtains of soft leather purses and jackets.
Tipping the wide brim of my sunhat down a little further on
my brow, I chuckled as his words followed me up the street, “Why you walk
so fast lady? Come back. Come back.”
Our ship’s horn blared sotto voce competing with other vociferous vessels. Fellow passengers lined the railings and took in the scene through binoculars. Meanwhile our shipboard commentator calmly informed us that accidents were commonplace because many ships do not take a pilot on board. The waters are international and therefore do not come under the jurisdiction of Turkish authorities.
I fleetingly pondered the details of our lifeboat drill which
had taken place a week earlier in Civitavecchia, Italy. However, I took solace
in the fact that most nearby water traffic was smaller than our the Galaxy cruise
Later that afternoon my husband and I enjoyed a fascinating
visit to both these architectural wonders which are well described in many travel
Despite imaginings that I might be held up by a scimitar- wielding mugger, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this Aladdin’s Cave . No-one tried to rob me and the merchants were polite and entertaining. Sometimes we were offered tea poured into tulip-shaped glasses suspended on silver trays.
This is a common gesture of hospitality. After sauntering past kiosks of leather purses, gold jewelry, colorful tiles and exotic belly-dancing costumes, my constraint sagged and I chose two beautiful Pashmir scarves.
The real fun came when I tried to extricate my liras for the
purchase. The notes were so tightly encased inside my money belt that my husband
finished up paying for the purchase rather than cause further embarrassment.
No wonder many merchants were yawning in the early evening and
our tour guide admitted being very thirsty. By the time we exited the Grand Bazaar,
darkness had enfolded the city and fairy lights encircling the minarets were lit
announcing the end of the day’s fast. Hundreds of people stood in line for
a free meal from the Mosque. According to Tomay, it would be close to a three-hour
At 7 pm shopkeepers snapped their gates closed and bakeries and street vendors opened up to sell all kinds of pastries made with honey and nuts. Women wearing colorful scarves and several dressed in black chadors waited patiently while a vendor juiced dozens of pomegranates.
Street-side restaurants were packed to overflowing with tiny
stools and tables abutting the curb. At this time of night it can take over two
hours to drive across the Galata Bridge. With a city of nearly 20 million residents,
it is perhaps not surprising. Everyone within sight was eating and I spotted a
bus driver using his steering wheel on which to balance his dinner plate.
One glance into the Weaponry Pavilion exhibiting the brutal
looking swords of Selim the Grim was enough to have me scurrying onto the Treasury.
Here I goggled at the famous Topkapi dagger with three enormous emeralds and the
teardrop-shaped 84-carat Spoonmaker diamond which according to legend was found
by a pauper who traded it for three wooden spoons.
This week Traveling Tales welcomes Canadian freelance travel editor Caroline Jackson, who lives in North Vancouver on Canada’s West Coast. View her website at www.crestlynn.com
About the photos: