Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm Turning Japanese: Shoko in Istanbul


What better way to discover more of Istanbul than with Shoko by my side? Shoko came to visit and we've been walking around Istanbul together and sometimes with her Couchsurfing host, Kemal, who was just simply an amazing resource to have around.

Everywhere I've previously gone in Turkey, I've always been mistaken for a Japanese tourist. With Shoko, this was even more prominent and we heard "Konichiwa!" at least a dozen times a day! This proved to be an advantage because Kemal told us that Turks were "sympathetic" towards the Japanese, whatever that means...

Some of the amazing things Shoko and I have done together during her visit: toured Topkapı Palace and harem, Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque, went shopping in the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, fruit and vegetable market, fish market, as well as the gypsy market, rode up the Bosphorus on a ferry, walked around various Istanbuli districts, drank Turkish çay, ate tons of food and baklava and of course, took lots of pictures.

Most memorable moments:
  • Blue Mosque: As we were inside taking pictures, a group of Muslim girls come up to us and in broken English asked what we thought was "Can you take our picture?" We said yes and then they posed WITH us! Turns out they were very delighted to have a picture with Asian girls. Who knew?
  • Spice Bazaar: The peddlers in the bazaars are notorious for trying to get you to buy things from them and one of the funniest lines we heard as we walked pass one of the many spice stalls was "Hello, spice girls!"
  • Secret cafe?: Kemal took us to an amazing rooftop cafe near the Galata Tower that gave us amazing views of the city and the Bosphorus. It was a bit chilly out there but the cafe is definitely going to be one of my favorite hangouts in Istanbul. Hopefully it really is a well-kept secret in Istanbul for when the weather gets nicer!
  • Wet feet: One day, I wore ballet flats when I was walking around with Shoko. Of course, this turns out to be the day that poured rain (yes, I am notorious for having inappropriate shoes at any given moment). Needless to say, my feet were wet and I was very cold for most of the day. We came upon a store just outside of the Grand Bazaar selling Turkish style lamps and the four young men working there started talking to us as we were taking pictures. We were all joking around and I somehow mentioned how cold my feet were. One of the guys gives me a pair of socks as a token of "Turkish hospitality." They even joked that they once gave another person their boxers because he was cold.
I'm so glad that Shoko came to visit me here and that we were able to explore parts of Istanbul together! Shoko, I'm so glad that you came to love Istanbul as much as I do! Come back soon!

Okay, so who's next to visit me here? I'll take you to the secret cafe!

*Photos from Shoko's visit are posted on my Picassa album, which can be found through connvoyage.com

© Connie Hum 2009

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