Saturday, March 22, 2008

In Search of a Church

Praise the coming of the Easter bunny, today was the first day without rain in the morning. It was actually warmer today to the point of almost not needing to layer up. It is unbelievable that the tulips, hyacinths, and crocus are up and making the gardens beautiful beds of color. We sat in the park across the street to people watch, enjoy the sunshine, and take in the hard work they put into the landscaping.

Since tomorrow is Easter, Ron had to find a Catholic church and the hours of services. We headed to Taksim, the part of the city on the Asian side. It was a multi-transport trip. All transport lines use the same tokens, each costing 1.30 T Lira. First, we had to take the tram to the end of the line, which is by the sea. The funicular entrance is not too far from there, but this is a funicular of a different breed. It is more like a small subway car, going underground up the major hill, leaving the crowd at the top of the Taksim district, the only stop. There were some great tile pictures in the stations. Some were whimsical fish, others were of mosques.

Strangely, there are three Starbucks and two Gloria Jeans down one long street interwoven with clothing stores, candy stores, bakeries like the one above iwth desserts dripping in honey, and restaurants. This is commercial central with international stores, not the usual Turkish ones. We walked the entire length where at the end; we found the place where we had seen the Whirling Dervishes eight years ago. There are not performing until the end of April due to the building being remodeled. This group performed for donations and out of spiritual desire to share their message. The other group charges 40 T Lira for their performance. Also along this street is a tiny cable car that runs up and down with only one stop, the end of the line in each direction. We have never ridden it since we enjoy walking the street to check out all of the stores, that and the fact that it fills immediately.

We wandered across the street to the park where there used to be tea stands the entire length of the park, but now there are only a couple and lots of construction going on. It was here that we spent New Year’s Eve in 2000. It was nice to reminisce. There was a shop that only sold halva and it was the best I had ever had. We brought back six pounds with us. We searched up and down the street, but it does not exist any longer. The candy stores only have the packaged kind, which is definitely not as good. I had my taste buds all ready for some too.

We returned to the hotel by 5:00. Ron rested and I was able to get online, but the WiFi connection is slow, so photos will have to wait until we return. I was able to download e-mail into Mail Washer, our spam filtering program, but Outlook refused to actually download them. It shows them downloading, but nothing appears. This computer has given me issues since it was new.

Walking up our street for more than a mile, we came across Roman ruins built by the last Emperor of the Roman Empire. It always impresses me the scope of power that they had. Actually, we were looking for dining options, but did not find anything in that direction. We finally decided to return to the area by the backpacker’s hostels where we ate the night before last, but were talked into the restaurant next door. I do not like kebab, but never seem to remember it from trip to trip where that is part of the cuisine. Tonight, I tried pistachio chicken kebab, but it was dry, the lettuce had no dressing, and the mashed potatoes were cold.

Ron was getting the chills; strangely, it is the warmest night since we have been here. With the café in our hotel closed, we stopped at Coffee Me, which I found is the correct name tonight. It turns out what I thought was ‘N is a coffee bean logo.

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