After a full first day of falling in “like” with Istanbul, we set out on day two, in search of some city-love.
Hoping to beat the forecasted insufferable heat and the even more stifling crowds, we made a point of waking up fairly early and hightailing it (via the metro) to the Grand Bazaar to do a bit of shopping (well, looking more than shopping, to scope out of the copious amounts of crap I was planning to buy later in the trip). Unfortunately for us (and anyone else who assumed the market is open every day), you cannot visit the Grand Bazaar on Sundays. So picking up from where we stopped caring the day before, Topkapi Palace became the goal for the morning.
We had read and heard very mixed reviews on the Topkapi Palace, but I honestly don’t know what those crazy haters are talking about. IT IS BEAUTIFUL. And interesting. And, unfortunately, very crowded. Logan and I generally have SHORT attention spans when it comes to the visiting and exploring of churches, art museums, historic homes, basically any place which you are supposed to stand in awe of anything located inside of a building. But we lasted 3 HOURS at Topkapi Palace, and I almost think we would have stayed even longer had it not been for the mind-melting heat and pushy crowds.
I mean, look at this place!!!
While inside, stop and stare type of activities are not typically our cup of tea (cups of tea are, incidentally, my cup tea…haha?), laying/sitting in a park/garden reading/relaxing is one of our absolute favorite pastimes and right outside the walls of the palace is an amazing, shady, slightly trippy outdoor space where we were able to get our read on.
The park, like everywhere else in Istanbul, is extremely crowded, but the energy is different and after a full morning of doing the tourist thing we were happy to take a reading break in the shady, almost comfortably cool-ish grass.
We spent a few hours in our city oasis surrounded by young couples sit on park benches canoodling (Muslim appropriate canoodling of course), teenage boys taking “look at how sexy I look against this tree” selfies, and joyful children running around playing with local and tourist friends alike. It was marvelous.
But, since we are alive, we eventually got hungry, so back into the crowds we went in search of food, settling on kumpir, which is basically a baked potato on crack. When describing kumpir I must first make very clear that the potatoes used to created this magical twist on a down-home classic are GIGANTIC. Like a big as a small human head. Okay not really, but they are HUGE.
Preparation of the Kumpir
- Make a baked potato.
- Take insides out of baked potato and mix them thoroughly with enough cheese and butter to give you a heart attack.
- Put buttery, creamy mixture back into the potato and fill with toppings such as sliced hot dog, relish, mayonnaise, corn, olives, sour cream, meat stuff. Ketchup is not optional.
I’m not really into potatoes and at home baked potatoes rarely make an appearance on our dinner/coffee table. In fact, in five years of living together I am not sure we have ever had baked potatoes. But I gotta confess, I LOVED kumpir. A lot.
But did I love Istanbul? I still wasn’t so sure so with only one day left (for now) we wanted to explore a different side to the city. So on our third and final day we decided to take a day trip to Asia. Haha… a different side… went to another continent… no one has ever made that joke before…