Because of our flight delay, we missed the morning tour of Istanbul- no Blue Mosque, no Topkapi Palace, no Hagia Sophia for us. I will hold a grudge against Air Canada for a long time for causing that! But happily we were able to join the afternoon tour, and visited the ancient cisterns and the Archeological Museum, with its lovely exhibition of antique tiles.
Istanbul is a fascinating city, and I am realizing that we should have spent more time here. There is much to see, the city has a relaxed charm, and the people are friendly and helpful. At the end of our tour, we realized it had been many hours since we had eaten, so the gentleman from Voyages to Antiquity suggested that we head to Taksim Square. He recommended a kebab restaurant that served good local food, called Konak Kebop, which he promised would serve fresh and authentic local cuisine.
Taksim Square was a short walk from our hotel, but a world away in terms of character. Instead of the quiet and sedate atmosphere of our hotel, this was a crowded and happy place which even at eight pm on a Sunday evening was packed with people, just walking, enjoying coffee and conversation, or shopping. Most of the stores were still open.
We found the Konak, and it was all that we had been promised it would be. We enjoyed huge platters of grilled meat, a generous tomato and cucumber salad, a plate of various mezzes, and a massive balloon of oven roasted pita.
Afterwards we walked through the busy pedestrian way again and stopped for ice cream. Several of the restaurants had young men out in front, mixing fresh ice cream, and putting on an entertaining show. There was fresh pistachio ice cream, as well as mint and ginger and vanilla. Delicious. After coffee in Starbucks – ever present and always dependable – we headed back to our hotel.
The staff from Voyages to Antiquity have been very attentive. They have a desk in a room off the lobby of the hotel, and there is someone there from 8 am to 8pm to answer any questions or to help.