Turkey 2013

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER coming back to San Jose are in [square brackets].


Report 9. Day 9.  Sunday, October 6, 2013. Big Day Out, Traffic: Mama Mia, Shoreside

I'm up early. I read a bit in the last reading book I brought with me, then I finish Reports 6 and 7. Later Sharon reviews them, adds her comments, and I put them on the web, and will send notification email this evening.

I have been using one of Cihan and Tara's high quality knives to peel and slice tomatoes, and I get interested. Tara shows me the two knives, out of the 8-or-so-knife set they have, that she uses almost exclusively. Cihan comes into the kitchen at the end of that conversation and gives me a quick tutorial on the knives, and which are the most useful for him -- two different knives than the ones Tara uses. Then I ask about sharpening, and he says if you want to do a perfect job, you need to use sharpening stones, but if you are in a hurry... then he brings out a machine with three pairs of angled slots, for three kinds of "sharpening." After his explanation, I conclude that a) I want to get a couple of these knives (at about $75-100 each), and the sharpening machine ($150). Woohoo, I got a list now. And it's almost my birthday, so I can add to the legend of Sharon trying to find out what I want for my birthday, and me, before her asking, buying all the stuff I want. Do I have a patience problem? Is that drool coming from the corner of my mouth? So maybe I'll buy a knife and tell Sharon to count that as her gift. That's the success to getting your spouse the perfect gift -- let them buy something and then saying "That's my gift to you." Fine by me. {What he doesn't say is that I do this too. I came home last November with a beautiful blouse I had seen at the Wild Bird Store and said "I just bought your Christmas present for me." I then wrap it up and do not open it until Christmas unlike Bob who often uses "My" gift to him right away.}

Cihan's mother, Aysel, who lives in Ankara, calls Cihan by Skype, the free internet-based audio/video connection software. That's Aysel on Cihan's computer screen and Cihan. He is teaching her about Facebook, currently.

The morning light changes the light and shadow and color of all the ships anchored in the harbor, and today it's grey and misty, with silhouetted ship outlines. Very cool.


Cihan sets his iphone, using the app "Sygic", a GPS travel application, to get us from home to the place we're going to have lunch. The traffic is absolutely horrible, but we get there, none of us having died of hunger. Incredibly the restaurant is a four story building famous for doner (or heated beef sliced thin) since 1979. There is seating and the food preparation on the bottom floor. The upper three floors are for overflow crowds. It's hard to believe this entire building is the restaurant.

Below left is the menu, and to the right a picture of a picture of the doner stations. Each item is meat-based. The simplest has pita bread and rice, with meat and french fries. Interestingly, most french fries here are served room temperature or a little warn.

Doner (pronounced doh-NAIR) is giant cylinders of beef or chicken or lamb or combinations, with a vertical rod running down the middle attached to a rotisserie. On the back side is the heat - the flames running from the top to the bottom. To either side are reflector panels, and the meat rack is open to the front, where the carvers use long sharp knives to slice off bits of beef in our case.


Here Tara and Sharon are looking at the ceiling. Tell you why a little later. To the right is a sald of shredded carrots, red sauerkraut and lettuce. The sauerkraut is fantastic. Brings out the German in me. Behind that, you see a tomato and cucumber salad. {Cihan tells the waiter about the salad for Bob saying "leave out the onion, leave out the peppers, leave out the parsley" might have been easier to just say "bring sliced toatoes and cucumbers!"}


This bread is soft and chewy, like pizza dough a little, and is delicious {Tara tells us that the pattern on the bread is from the cook running the back of her/his fingers, digging in a bit with the fingernails over the dough to form the pattern.} Sharon and I split a lentil soup, and I break off bits of the bread, dip them in the soup, and it is wonderful. On the right is Izcander {which is Turkish for "Alexander" If you order buyuk -- large -- izcander that's "Alexander the Great"}. This is Sharon's doner with a tomato sauce over, cooked tomatoes and peppers ("don't eat the peppers, I'm tellin' ya", says Sharon, who took a bite). She gives me a taste and Mmm good.


Below is the type of doner I ordered (upper left hand of the menu). After tasting Sharon's tomato-flavored beef, my plain beef is waaaaay too plain. I am King of Tomatoes. Cihan orders me a special salad, with tomatoes peeled and sliced, and cuumbers the same. That's my happy face.



Below is the ceiling. The gray sunshade panels are connected, and you can pull a cord to the left, bringing the panels out of the way, revealing the white translucent plastic(?) ceiling, open to the sunlight. To the right a little girl holds hands with her baby brother at the corner of their parents' table.

A little more about the retractable shade. As we would say something like, "No big deal," or "Don't mention it," Turkey has a similar saying. Phonetically, it's BEER SHAY DAY-EEL. I point to the ceiling and say, "Beer shade day-eel." A Turkish pun. Somebody stop me.


Below a cook turns the butter-soaked bread over. At right, you see the blur of the long, long knive used to cut the meat. He is using the round steel rod to sharpen the knife.


And below you see two shots of him carving the meat. Tara says they put fat at the top of the chunk of meat to drip down and give the beef flavor. {You can seen the white of the fat at the top in the left hand picture.}


After finishing our meal, we start talking about Pinkberry frozen yogurt (To my surprise, Cihan or Tara say that we can go to the Pinkberry after this. Ooh, I love Pinkberry), then about milkshakes. I ask Cihan if he's ever had a freeze, and he doesn't know what that is. I say imagine a milk shake, that instead of milk as the liquid, you use root beer, in the case of my favorite, root beer freeze. Then we start talking about a really good shake, when you get to the bottom, you have to take the straw out, the lid off, and turn it upside down, kind of massaging it, to get it to let go of the bottom. But you better be on your toes, or you'll have ice cream on your face. Which it seems, both Sharon and I have done.

Sharon says, "Here we are full from dinner, and what do we talk about? MORE FOOD!" Tara says when women have a lunch together, that's what they often do too. Each lady has to tell her bit of experience with whatever the current subject is. {She said they first talk about the food the host has prepared and then they each share how THEY prepare it and what they might serve at a tea.}

Sharon takes her last photo on her memory chip, and announces that she's out of memory stick. I carry two backups for her, and as I'm removing her just-filled one, I say, "Out with the bad air", intending to say, "In with the good air," but instead I say, "In with the doner (doe-NAIR, remember?)." That gets a little chuckle.

In the restaurant over in one corner, I spot this artificial display thing, with real plants. Rather odd, it struck me. {Bob is so cute thinking those are real plants.}At right, I'm at one end of the counter, sighting down the length. The nearest fellow wants us to see his full face, so he drops the mask for a second. {They were pretty happy that we were taking their pictures. It is nonstop work behind the counter and very hot work too with the five doner stations at full flame.}

And below is the street separating the restaurant from its own parking lot. The big sign shows a big doner meat block on the spit inside a circle. If it were in the U.S., it would say, "Since 1980!"


Next stop? Harley Davidson. Sharon has a friend who requested an HD tee shirt from Scotland last year, but we weren't able to get it. Tara and Cihan know the location of such a store, and we are headed there. In more horrible traffic. But some of the buildings we see from the highway are breathtaking.


Here's what the traffic looks like. In the picture and in real life at the time, nobody's movin'. Sharon liked the building at right, so snapped this shot.


One section of the freewayu offers us this display in the wall beside the freeway. It is made of living flowers, and each rectangle is illuminated at night. At right is a curved-front building, facing the direction of the water.


As we get to our turnoff, sharing the exit with people who continue the sharp turn to the right on a small cloverleaf, a car zips past us on the right, parks off the road on the right, a boy and girl exit the car, and begin rushing further to the right. We turn around and see that a car has gone over the guard rail of the clover leaf and is pointed downhill, nose down, but it looks like a tree or bush has arrested their advance. Can't tell if anyone is hurt, as we have shuffled on, away from the accident.


We make it to the Harley Davidson store, and luckily find parking beside a hospital, a few doors away.


From the barrel, it seems the tee shirt is going to say Harley-Davidson Bosphorus. Cool. Uh oh. Wait a minute. It's 5:30 pm and this sign, telling us we were "close", but got no cigar or even bubble gum.


As we head back to the car, we notice this lanterns hanging in a big tree in fron of the HD store. At right, we see four brand new buildings, either just completed or under construction. Awesome.


Next, we are going to the seashore, where there is a little cafe shop, run "by the municipality," as Tara and Cihan say. {There is a walk, bicycle, skate pathway for miles along the sea shore. Cihan tells us he skated from their town all along to this area, a distant of 21 kilometers or so, taking 3 1/2 hours. Then he took the bus back. Great exercise, G! And all along at intervals are these little cafes run by the city.}The sun is at that wonderful, late-afternoon position that makes light the theme of everything for a few minutes. These white buildings are gorgeous in that light. At right a hooded crow is wondering, "Where's my hood? Do you SEE any hood on me? I don't see no hood." Or perhaps, "I think I'll eat some nice garbage."


Here are some shots of the water and shore as it makes a nice outward curve. One of the Princes' Islands in the background.


This boat sits a few minutes, then takes off at full speed, making round curves and circles, then settles back down for a while. The ferry at right has no propellers. It's a jet boat, and pushes water through discharge piping in the back, that can be directed left or right, to make turns. He is hauling.


The roasted chestnut man awaits a customer.


Tara has brought a deck of cards, so we go into the cafe, where there's lots of seating. The sun is low enough that it's shooting strong shafts in through the glass walls and into the faces of people facing that direction. Anyway, we order hot chocolate, and play a few rounds of '31.' Great, great stuff.

As we're looking at the boat activity outside, Cihan asks if I've ever seen this setup where the output of a jetski is routed through two big, long hoses to the base of a small platform. A man in swim trunks is wearing what looks like snow ski boots. He steps onto the platform, and snaps the boots into the platform. They start up the jet ski, and the man, now connected to the jetski by these two long hoses, each one seeming to line up with one of his feet, shoots all over the place -- thirty feet into the air, plunges down into the water, shoots along under water, angles up, plunges out of the water. It's on Youtube, and if you want to see it, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4Bm3cs9TFo.

Night falls. The sun sets. We wind up our '31' fun, and head out, aiming for the Migros grocery store nearby.


Looking to the west, where traces of the sunset remain. It's a little chilly, without that sun.


Cihan says "Let's do a Chinese lantern!" And he buys one from the vendor, who stands by as Cihan lights the weighted, incendiary pad.


After it's lit, they turn it fireside toward the ground to let hot air build up inside. the top is closed, of course.


Cihan holds it up. It may look like it, but the paper is not on fire. He lets go, and up, up and away it goes, traveling with the wind.


Following this shot, it keeps retreating until we can just see a little red dot. Then it's gone, but shows up again a few seconds, and then is gone for good. At right are three colors of lanterns, so the customer gets to choose the one he or she wants.


As were leaving two girls come close to us, and one starts making musical noises with some kind of clickers. I give it a 95 because you can dance to it.

As Sharon is trying to take a picture of us, the girl gets between us. Cihan asks her to move, which she does, but not before saying, "Give me 50 kurush (half a Lira, about a quarter in US money)." Cihan says, "I haven't got any change," and without missing a beat, the girl says, "Then give me 5 lira." Cihan chuckles as we continue leaving, and she turns her attention to others ambling past.

Sharon and I like this silhouetted outline of a home that is a little like a castle.


We go to the Migros grocery store, and Tara does her special shopping, while we do our what-shall-we-get-to-eat-for-the-next-few-days shopping. Rather than get any Snickers, we just take a photo. Bob examines a three-rubber-footed collander closely.



We check out, and push two carts worth of food down a ramp to our car, load everything in, and we're off for home. No traffic now as we zoom home, park, get all our purchases upstairs, and I realize that the first Sunday NFL football games have started. I check NFL.com and learn that none of my guys are doing squat. But still, it's fun to be able to check near-live.

That's it for the excitment for today. We're on an Easy Day-Big Day duality, and today was a big day, as you see from the length of this report. For the first time, I have carried my voice recorder around with me, to record every time something unusual or funny happens, so I can put it in these reports.


"Party on, Garth" (from an old Saturday Night Live feature),


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