Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Final bits of Istanbul

Turkish Coffee

Should I taste it?
After completing all sight-seeing we were going to do, we decided that we could not leave Istanbul without sampling Turkish coffee.  Bill wasn't too sure about trying this thick coffee, but it was his idea so he had to drink it.  Turkish coffee is served sweet.  It is so thick you would almost think it is fudge that hasn't yet hardened.  The silver containers with lids are small glass of iced water.  You drink only about 3 small sips from the tiny coffee cups.  The rest of the coffee in the bottom of the cup is like mud.  No way you can drink that thick mess.  Then you sip the iced water to help remove the residue of the coffee powder that thickly coats the interior of your mouth no matter how carefully you sip that coffee.  Actually, it did not taste bad.  Just not my favorite coffee.

Sitting strange
This cat caught our eyes as we walked down a street in Istanbul.  It looked like it was sitting straight up on its rear.  It moved just before I snapped the photo, but you get the idea of the position it was in when we noticed it.

And this was my favorite corner building.  Can't explain why.  It just was.  A man inside sold drinks to pedestrians.

Hotel street
Narrow Hotel street
The streets in this old section of Istanbul are very narrow.  But the street beside our hotel was ultra-narrow.

Walking through this bustling part of Istanbul was always good for people-watching.  There was lots of pedestrian traffic at all hours of day or night. 

The light rail tram tracks ran down the street right next to the pedestrian sidewalk.  And guess what, fellow Houstonians, not one person was hit by the train.  And not one car ran a stop light or stop sign and was hit by the train. 
Typical pedestrian traffic beside tram
2 sets train tracks; no accidents
These people used common sense and stayed out of the way of the train.  Something that Houstonians apparently still have not learned to do downtown.  Note the train tracks on each side of the narrow street and how close they run to the pedestrian sidewalks.

Springtime tulips
These flowers at a tiny corner restaurant near our hotel were a bright spot on a cold, dreary, gray day.

And on this corner the tulips looked like they would burst forth in full glory in a few more days.  This spot would brighten anyone's day.

Water pipes

And surely everyone knows about the famous water pipes so popular in Istanbul.  The tourist guides stress that everyone simply must try a water pipe in one of the many smoking bars in Istanbul.  These are not bars as we might think.  They serve coffee and water pipes and various tobaccos to smoke.  We skipped this treat.

And, last but not least, one of my favorite things we discovered in Istanbul.  Maybe this is common in some cities, but it was new to us.  At a few intersections there was a tiny cubicle where sat a police officer.  He controlled these things that would go up and down in the street.  When down, the street was flush and traffic unimpeded.

Barriers in up position
Barriers in down position
But when someone was speeding up the street, the officer could push a button and these barriers popped up.  Now that is a drastic way to cut down on speeding and running traffic lights!  These barriers were also used to block off certain streets during high traffic periods.  Or when they simply wanted to have pedestrian only traffic for a period of hours in a specific block.

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