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Whirling Dervishes! We’re in Istanbul!

October 6, 2012

After 24 hours of travel, 3 plane rides, an absurd number of breakfasts (don’t ask) and one airport visa-seeking cluster, we made it.  We are in Istanbul!

We landed in the late afternoon yesterday, so I’ve only had a limited view of the city, but my first reaction is that it is an absolutely amazing city and so completely different from anywhere I’ve been before.  It’s a huge city – the 4th largest in the world if you believe our shuttle driver – with more character than I’ve seen in a city of its size.  One of the things that grabbed me initially was all of the water.  The Marmara Sea, Bosphorous Straight, and Golden Horn surround the city on nearly all sides.  And on the drive from the airport to the hotel, we drove along miles of beautiful shaded parks along the coast of the Marmara, where dozens upon dozens of oil tankers were floating, getting ready for their turn at the oil in the Black Sea.

The first order of business was freshening up from a long day of travel, then meeting at our hotel’s rooftop bar for a cocktail.  Wow.  This is hands down the most beautiful setting in which I’ve ever had the pleasure of sipping a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  Our hotel is right smack in the middle of the old city, so from the patio we overlooked the perfectly blue Marmarra Sea with Hagia Sofia over one Shoulder and the Blue Mosque over the other.

Cocktail hour


The temperature was perfect for lounging with a light breeze coming off the sea.  The only thing we weren’t quite sure about were the complimentary Goose Liver Brulee dishes that they passed out as a house specialty.  I tried mine, and it almost tasted like creme brulee. Until it tasted like goose liver.

After a gorgeous cocktail hour, these tired Americanos were ready for a ridiculously early dinner by Turkish standards.  At the recommendation of our concierge, we walked over to Khorasani Restaurant for traditional Turkish kebabs.  This place did not disappoint!  We tried a handful of hot and cold mezzes, served with the most cloud-like pita bread you’ve ever seen.  Seriously.  That is not a Thanksgiving turkey.

The standout appetizers were a babaganoush-style dip of pureed eggplant with red pepper and tahini, and baked hummus with butter and pastrami.  Seriously.  If you’re at home, throw some hummus in a dish, cover it with butter and chopped pastrami, and bake that stuff.  You’re welcome.  We were already stuffed from the first round by the time our entrees came but those were fantastic too.  Between the six of us we ordered all different lamb entrees with only one repeat, and every single one was fantastic.  My brother in law’s lamb chops took the prize though.  I swear they were grilled in butter.


We left full, tired and happy and decided to walk around a little more on the way back to the hotel before bed.  It was only 8 p.m. after all.  Walking by all of the other restaurants (that were finally starting to get busy), we were stopped outside every one by a waiter or host trying to talk us into dining with them.  Come in! Look at my menu! I have the best prices!  Oh my goodness, I have never been heckled so much over a choice of restaurant!  And most of them laughed when we told them we’d already eaten at that early hour. Whew.  I think we promised to come back to every one of them for dinner tonight.  

Once we were through the restaurant section, we walked through a little bazaar area and past a hookah bar where we literally saw a Whirling Dervish.  Not sure what that is?  You’re in luck.

Whirling Dervish


That man in the white skirt twirled in slow, perfect circles for the entire song.  It was kind of mesmerizing and totally unbelievable that he didn’t get dizzy.  According to our Wikipedia search, Whirling is a religious dance that is now used to entertain tourists.  Yep, sounds right to me.

After all the whirling excitement, we were ready for one more drink at the hotel and then bed.  I have never seen such a complicated and beautiful setup for simple cocktails.

Now I’m refreshed and ready for our half-day walking tour of Istanbul.  Time to see more of this gorgeous city!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. abby permalink
    October 6, 2012 6:21 am

    Looks amazing! The pictures make me miss your family! And the turkey shaped cloud like pita bread….wow…
    Have a wonderful trip 😉

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