Warning- this post is a roller coaster of emotions.
I am sleeping on a pallet on the floor because my huge apartment is currently stuffed with guests, and I couldn’t be happier. ZF managed all on her ownsome to come to Kadiköy, find my work, retrieve a key, and follow my insanely detailed instructions back to my house, (So the block after the hospital on your left you will see a road that cuts diagonally left- you’ll see that there are food shops on the left and outdoor seating on the right. There will be a chalkboard sign halfway down that road on the right with beer prices on it. Does it say Effes 50 is 7 lira? I sure hope it still does. That’s the road you want to take- not true left, diagonally left… etc etc etc for three paragraphs.) all while I was sunning myself in Fethiye. (When we were at the Daniel Craig bar, that’s the only time I was glued to my phone.) She managed rather well on her own for most of the week.
Sara managed to get from Çeşme all the way to my house this morning, after I abandoned her to stay an extra day in Fethiye to watch a match- a decision I do not regret one whit.
Today was my day off so I got to play tour guide- and let me tell you, I looooove playing tour guide. When you live here and you work here it’s remarkably easy to forget how awesome and overwhelming and crazy Istanbul is. Seeing it through visitors’ eyes is a good way to remind myself how cool it is that I live here and get to experience this stuff every day.
We got off to a leisurely start at around 11 and went to the hamam. I warned the girls I was taking them to an authentic one, and if they wanted the touristy “we’ll actually massage you and pamper you and not subject you to watching elderly ladies shaving their bits in the corner” kind of hamam in, like, Sultanahmet, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit if they went off and did that on their own. We had a lovely time.
Then off to Bahariye- the ladies wanted to do some shopping, but first we needed grub so we had montı and coffee at Mantı Pide, which is close to the church and right across the street from my tailor from whom I had to pick something up. We sat outside, the mantı was perfectly garlicky and delicious, I pretended I knew how to read ZF’s coffee grounds after her Turkish coffee (“Well, that’s probably a road, and a road means travel, so I guess you’re going to be travelling. But I guess since you’ve been travelling for the last three months and are planning on travelling through November, you already knew that. There are three little fish, and those usually mean money, I think, which probably means you won’t make very much money, but I guess since you’re an artist you already knew that. This splodge- it kind of looks like a monster, so I guess check under the bed and in the wardrobe before you go to sleep. That kind of looks like lightening, so maybe there’s a storm coming? And there’s definitely a bearded man walking towards the storm.” You can hire me for parties.)
From there we wandered in and out of many stores while the girls fondled dresses and picked up souvenirs and I remembered how much I actually hate shopping and channeled the inner patience I’ve only managed to cultivate in my thirties. There was one fantastic moment at Mango, though- both girls I’ve thoroughly schooled in the fine arts of playing Count Atrocious Pants, Why Are They Together, and Spot the Tourist, and I found a rack of atrocious pants, the fount if you will, of my deep sartorial sadness, and we all tried them on and had a riotous photoshoot until the management made us stop. Photos will be in the much anticipated upcoming Atrocious Pants of Istanbul photoblog. Brits- we are, of course, talking about trousers, though I could show you some pictures of pretty atrocious underwear as well.
After a wee rest, we got on a ferry to Kabataş. It was my first night back in Kabataş since the night I went with Z and built barricades and whatnot, and my Gezi Park revisited will just have to be another blog post, when I can articulate how deeply sad and unsettling it was a little better than I can now. (“It’s just- it’s just- it’s just- arrrgh!”)
We had dinner at my favorite Lokantası- I always forget what it’s called, or possibly I never knew, but as you’re walking from Taksim square down Istiklal, you pass a McDonalds and take a left at the very next corner. (HSBC Bank machine opposite, as a landmark.) It’s a bit up the road on your left. We got six dishes of food- eggplant with potatoes, peas and beef covered with bechemel and cheese; spinach with a perfectly runny egg baked into it; köfte and potatoes; Uzbeki style rice; Stuffed peppers; a tatlı- with drinks our bill came to 27 lira and we literally could not finish the food.
From there we waddled to my Secret Bar, and friends, this is where the roller coaster sets in. SECRET BAR IS CLOSED. IT IS CLOSED FOREVER.
I am bereft.
Why am I here?
What is this existence thing even about, anyway?
I see a red door and I want to paint it black.
But I had to be brave for the girls.
We wandered on, though, down Istiklal street until I saw the turn in to the twisty little streets of Beyoğlu and I found a likely place, (pin in the disturbing conversation I had with three Libyans) and found a most unlikely thing in Taksim on a Friday night when Secret Bar has just gone ahead and left you, like your dad: a floor with a lovely view of street traffic, no thump thump music turned up way too loud, and no football match.
We got a whiskey, a wine and a beer and marveled about how lovely everything is.