Prinses vs. Kremalis: Who will win?

In this most desperate battle to the death of who will win the title of "Best Creme-Filled Sandwich Cookie Of Turkey", Kremali has been the leader of the polls. Kremali has dutifully slaked my hunger for sugary goodness while watching TV broadcasts I can't understand. Oh Kremali, what a great friend you've been in such trying times. But alas, I don't think I can see you anymore, Kremali. What with their nearly "Pie-R -squared" increase in size, delicate and delicious light cookie crunch, and nearly identical chocately-filled soul, I would have to say that Prenses are my new overall favorite. Kremali, how I loved thee. But there's a new kid on the block. And that kid's named Prenses. * PS: Kremali Corp: I might need some more samples in order to revise my impression. Please contact me privately via email for mailing information.

Lazy Sunday

Bounty of the sea A cold, rainy, and windy Sunday. I decide to spend most of the day working. Quick jaunt over to check out the fishmarket and have a balik (fish sandwich). Wander around the almost totally deserted streets of the Bazaar district. I barely recognize the places I was walking around just a few days ago.

Hitting the pavement: Topkapi, Taksim, Beyoglu

Up early, motivated by the partially clear skies. Heading up the Bosphorus Beeline for Topkapi Palace. The combined entrance fees (main gate and Harem) and audio tour make for a pretty steep ticket price, but the view of the Golden Horn and Bosphorus from the Marble Terrace alone are worth the price. Enjoying some sunshine, boat watching, and a chicken doner at Eminonu is a great way to wash off the dirty feeling of being an empty tourist. I run into a couple of kids from the US who have sewn Canadian flags on their backpacks. As if their shorts, flip-flops, and Abercrombie wardrobes don't scream "I'm an American", the presence of a Canadian flag on their backpacks certainly do. They tell me they're afraid to be identified as an American. Now, I can certainly understand being embarrassed, but afraid? I watch them hurl bread at seagulls and pigeons on the crowded terrace by the terminals and think that they just should have stayed home, and I think of just how embarrassed I really am. Fisherman Crossing the Galata Bridge is a smorgasborg of photo opportunities. I jaw a bit with some of the throngs of fisherman. They're not grisly old seadogs, they're just some guys out fishing for fun. They're plenty happy to sit around and talk for a bit. Windy Galata Tower On the north side of the Galata Bridge, the houses are jammed in and perched on a steep hillside. I climb, ducking in and out of alleys and backstreets, ending up smack dab at the Galata Tower. I'd be a fool not to go up it at only 10 YTL. The 360° view from the precipitous ledge is astounding. Beyoglu is a hodge podge of backstreets, cafes, apartments, dead ends. I thoroughly enjoy wandering around for a few hours before I stumble on Istakal Cad. This busy main pedestrian thoroughfare is jammed with people, cafes, high end boutiques. It's beautiful and busy and frankly just leaves me a little cold. The relatively sterilized consumer frenzy just leaves me cold. The street reminds me a bit of other European shopping pedestrian malls like - argh - the one in Amsterdam, can't think of the name, although it's much bigger. I tend to treat these streets as something to get across, not travel on. And even then, it's a chore with the ebb and flow of humanity surging on the street. The side streets, however, are filled with people drinking tea, playing backgammon, and just relaxing. Istakal Cad dumps its quarry of humanity onto Taksim Square. Again, nothing much to see here except a lot of people. I left almost immediately to wander around through Beyoglu, getting thoroughly lost along the way. Galata Bridge Back to the Galata Bridge and across, back through the Spice Market. I wander south of the Spice Market covering some new terrain. It's filled with people selling any and everything that you can imagine. And then look! Oh no! Somehow, I've run right into the Grand Bazaar again. I don't want to backtrack, so I charge ahead through the onslaught of touts, tired from a long day. Polish it off with some lamb kebap and yoghurt and call it day.

Sultanahmet truncated circuit: Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya Tip: If you're doing the Sultanahmet cycle, I suggest starting with the Blue Mosque and working towards Topkapi. For one, the exit from the Blue Mosque is on the Aya Sofya side. You'll be swimming upstream if you try to get to the Blue Mosque entrance from Aya. If you insist, walk up the Hippodrome. But more importantly, you're going to be disappointed by the Blue Mosque if you see Aya first. The Blue Mosque is certainly more impressive outside, but the Aya Sofya is definitely a sight to behold inside. The Blue Mosque seems a bit downtrodden, a bit like a Muslim VFW but without the bowling lanes and subsidized beer. I suppose that is to be expected from a few million visitors a year. A soggy, rainy day. A good one to spend indoors.