Istanbul, day 4
For breakfast, I cooked scrambled eggs, tomato and cucumber salad, and sliced figs. Mo introduced me to a thyme spice mix with sesame seeds from Lebanon that his mom made, as well as labneh (yogurt cheese), which goes really well on bread.
After much discussion, we decided to spend the first part of the day in Florya. The Princes’ Islands are nice, but riding bikes there can be challenging for a novice rider like me who hasn’t developed the right muscles to climb hills. Florya is flatter and more pleasant for newbie bikers. So we took the Marmaray Metro to Yenikapı, then the BN1 bus to Florya. I saw my first Turkish stop sign (amusing to an English-speaker), and I stared at the repeating umbrellas on the beach.
We wanted to rent bikes from İsbike, a city bike scheme, but we took too long trying to figure out how it works and deciding on what to do, so some guys took three of the remaining four bikes at the west-most station. I was okay with just walking, but Mo wanted to try getting the remaining bike and going to the next station to pick up the last bike there. I was doubtful that it would still be there by the time we arrived. He had me ride the bike he got, then when we got to the next bike station, we actually got the last bike. How lucky! I am glad we ended up renting the bikes since it’s about 6km from one end to the other, and it would’ve taken much longer for us to traverse the entire distance on foot. On bikes, it took us less than an hour each way.
Florya is just west of the Atatürk International Airport, so we saw planes flying overhead once every two minutes.
The water was not always clear, but some parts looked safe to swim in.
I had worked up an appetite by 14:00, so we went to Kaşıbeyaz Akvaryum, Mo’s favorite restaurant in Istanbul. Everything in the restaurant was gold, including the restrooms. It has a nice view of the ocean, the prices were a little bit less than those at Tarihi Karaköy Balıkçısı, but the service was better.
Butter was ₺8.50, and each lavash pide was ₺1.75 and just okay. Gavurdag salad (₺14.75: tomatoes, parsley, onions, and walnuts) was quite nice and fresh. Mo got the urfa kebap (₺38: beef kebap with tomatoes, bulgar wheat, peppers), and I got the patlican kebap (₺44: lamb kebap with eggplant, thin bread, tomatoes, peppers, and raw onions). I liked both of them, but if I had to pick a favorite, I’d go with the lamb one again.
We took a very crowded BN1 bus back to Yenikapi, then metro, then tramway to visit the Grand Bazaar, but it turned out to be closed on Sundays, which is totally weird since the Muslim sabbath is Fridays. (Obviously, it’s for tourists.) We went to the Spice Bazaar instead. We saw lokum (Turkish delight), Turkish tea sets, and many other sweets, nuts, and spices.
For dinner, we went back to Borsam Taşfırın and had cheese lamahcun (₺6) this time. These were so amazing! I don’t know if I can go back to regular lamahcun after this.
Just for fun, we looked for a theater where we could watch “The Secret Life of Pets”. The sad thing was that we tried two different movie theaters, and neither was showing it with original English audio. We even tried calling the second one ahead of time to double-check that they had a showing in English, but when we arrived, they must have canceled the one in English. Oh, well: we went to the large Carrefour in the department store we were in for the second cinema to find Algida Maraş Usulü brand pistachio ice cream (₺7.99). Next to it was baklava ice cream (₺14.99)! We got back and tried them all. Sooo good!