Monday, April 29, 2013

A fond farewell to Turkey - We'll be back!


Our last day in Istanbul and it was sunny at last. This just brought even more people to the streets to enjoy the day. We walked down to the Aqueduct of Valens, a Roman aqueduct which was the major water-providing system of the Eastern Roman capital of Constantinople. It was completed by Roman Emperor Valens in the late 4th century AD. It was restored by several Ottoman Sultans, and is one of the most important landmarks of the city at 29 metres high and over 900 metres long. It is quite interesting to watch the busy traffic whizz through the centre arches, while looked at it from an adjacent park.


We had hoped to go back to the Grand Bazaar but it was shut so we walked around the Istanbul university grounds. Then it was time for our last  lunch. Seamus had the most delicious lamb moussaka but not the way we were used to it. It came in a piping hot stoneware dish with eggplant, onions, pepper and almonds liberally mixed in with the meat and with a cinnamon stick in the middle of the dish. I tried to replicate it this week and I think with a couple of more tweaks it will be perfect.

One of the really interesting dishes served in restaurants came in a narrow clay pot, which the server hit a few times and then broke. Usually, some kind of stew was served from the pot. This is a must try on our next visit.

After a bit more walking it was time to go to the airport. For kilometre after kilometre, as we drove along the coast, all we could see were container ships. It was quite amazing.

Once again we flew on Turkish air. Who can beat an airline that serves a piece of Turkish delight before a huge meal, and where everything presented on the tray is actually edible - a formidable feat these days.

The food in Turkey was delicious with lots of Brazil nuts, pistachios, almonds, apricots, figs and dates being used. Yogurt and honey are staples of the diet and included in many dishes.

Turkish food uses lots of eggplant,and they love to stuff things, peppers, eggplant, vine leaves and more. Kepap, identical to the Greek kebab, is a national dish, found in every second food shop, either chicken or lamb or beef. Goats' cheese and olives can be found at every meal. The wonderful variety of salads was always fresh.

Turkish delight can be found everywhere coming in all kinds of flavours and colours with nuts or other ingredients. Baklava, layered pastry, honey and nuts  is a favourite. Ice cream sellers on the streets pick up the ice cream and hang it in front of you, while it stretches out a long way. It took us a while to figure out what it was.

Very strong black tea is served in tulip shaped glasses as is the popular and delicious apple tea. Freshly squeezed orange juice and pomegranate juice can be found everywhere. Turkish coffee is very strong and mud-like on the bottom. Even though we had tasted it several times before, after one cup we decided to stick to espresso.

Someday we hope to return to Turkey. We have only scratched the surface, there is so much more so see and do. It is a trip that we will look forward to.


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