S rose late, so I went running. While she was finishing getting ready, I headed up to Sultanahmet Square to do a little field recording. When S found me, we hopped the tram to the north side of the European side of Istanbul, on the other side of the Golden Horn. This are has a few different names, but people refer to it as the New Side. It's definitely more European, more lefty, more young, more progressive. From there, we took an underground funicular up to the Galata Tower, which you can ascend and see the whole city laid out below. The tower offers a cheesy dinner-and-a-show combo in which we were uninterested, but the views were excellent.
After the tower, we headed down to Old Town to catch our shuttle to our Bosphorus Straits cruise. Our guide was a joker named Mustafa who was knowledgable, funny, and not too talkative. We enjoyed the cruise and his information.
After the cruise, we headed the hill to Taksim Square, one of the centerpoints of the New Area I mentioned earlier. From there, we wandered down Istiaklal Street, which was packed with people and shops. I counted four Starbucks in a mile and a half. Also, how un-Turkish does this street look to you?
After walking the street, S and I headed towards the Spice Market to a restaurant called Hamdi that came recommended by one of my students. We had a great meal and watched the sun go down over the Golden Horn. Thanks, Sinan!
On the way home, we stopped to listen to a British community orchestra start a concert. They began with a disco version of 'Night on Bald Mountain,' complete with syncopated beats and electric guitar. S and I couldn't leave fast enough, but before we were out of earshot, the orchestra launched into their next tune - a disco version of Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker; S's head about exploded.
When we got back to the room, we discovered that one of our credit card companies called/emailed to check in with us about 'suspicious charges' that had appeared on our bill. I checked into it (all of the charges on our card are legit) and wrote them a long email in which I a) assured them that the charges were legit, b) chastised them for making us go through this confirmation garbage when I called them a month ago to let them know about our travel plans, and c) suggested that they needed to figure out an easy way for travelers to confirm charges over the internet. I mean, why did I go through the hassle of calling the companies in the first place if they were just going to panic when I started spending money abroad?
One more day in this staggering city. Not sure what we're gonna do... but it'll be great!