Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 39: The Bazaars & Sufi Dervish

Today was a dedicated Bazaar day.  The first order of business was getting to the Grand Bazaar.  I walked with Daniel and a few others to the Metro station close by and we took the tram to the entrance of the world's largest covered shopping center.  I don't like to brag but we're getting pretty good at figuring out these large foreign city metro systems.  After arrival Daniel and I split off from the others since we have similar shopping interests (or lack of is probably a better way to put it) and we walked around for a while.  The place is exactly as described: enormous and overwhelming.  Most of what I've heard always stresses the variety of over 4000 different shops.  After walking around for a few hours and picking up a couple things for people I've come to the conclusion that there are really only four types of shops: leather, rugs, jewelry, and trinkets.  It was a must to see but I don't know how people could spend days there (even though many did...and spent quite a bit in the process).

After the Grand Bazaar we grabbed a quick lunch at a place close by.  I got a beef "doner" which is apparently a pretty typical (and cheap) lunch option.  I also finally got a cup of real Turkish Coffee (you'd be amazed how difficult it was to find) and definitely approve.  Following lunch we re-entered the Bazaar for the sake of walking directly through it since walking around the outside would take us way out of the way.  The next hour or so was spent roaming around the streets of the old city in the general direction of the Spice Bazaar.  We eventually reached the Spice Bazaar and browsed for a little while.  I wanted to pick up some tea but was a little disappointed that it was all labeled in only English (surely not for the tourists...).  I eventually got some Turkish Apple Tea that looked a little more legit at a market close by.  Somehow we later found ourselves walking through the lesser known Livestock Bazaar and I have to admit I'm a little disappointed I couldn't bring a goat back to the ship.  We walked around for a few more hours seeing quite a bit of Istanbul and eventually got back to the ship.

Back at the ship I hit the gym and grabbed a quick dinner.  This evening I was signed up to attend a Sufi Dervish Ceremony.  The music is played on typical Ottoman instruments including the flute-like "ney" and is a great example of non-western ritualistic music.  The Dervish dancers went through a ritualistic routine of whirling as a representation of a union with God.  The ceremony is still preformed in a religious setting in some parts of central Turkey but what we saw was a (hopefully) authentic performance.  It was a really interesting and quite an "entrancing" local cultural experience, I'm glad I got the chance to go.  Tomorrow I have a short trip focusing on Islamic practices in Turkey that visits a few more mosques and palaces.  That's all for now, I need to work out tomorrow's schedule so I can fit in a climb of the Galata Tower before we depart for Egypt.

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