Easter

Well the Easter Bunny did not bring the sunshine, but the temperature was not as cool as our first days here. It made for a fairly pleasant Easter morning as we retraced our routes from yesterday’s trial run to get Ron to church on time. Hmmm….the English mass was at 10:00, but he elected to go to the 11:00 Italian mass so we did not have to ‘rush’ as much. Translation = get up too early. We gave ourselves 1 ½ hours to make the journey, thinking it being Sunday, the public transport would be less often and that was true. Yet, we arrived at the church gate by 11:00 regardless of Sunday schedules. Ron had his book and I mine, but our reading rooms were to be entirely different. He went to church and I went to the Shrine of Holy Caffeine, Starbucks directly across the street. Warm enough to sit outside, I set my eyes on the table I wanted and left my book there to reserve it. When I went in to order, it was shrouded in darkness, yet caffeine worshippers were at the Holy Grail partaking in liquid communion. They had a power outage and were only serving brewed coffee not espresso drinks. Let there be light and electric to get the espresso maker steaming hot once again. Estimates for the next witnessing experience were in five minutes. I could wait that long and went out to read my book in the meantime. When I noticed the interior had indeed been illuminated, I joined the line of faithful to confess I wanted a Vente latte, a far cry from my usual. Just after the person in front of me raised her pleas and before any action could be taken to fulfill them, the lights went out again, but only for a moment. With prayers answered and a physical manifestation of it in hand, I went to my seat to read until my appointed time to meet Ron by the Pope John XXIII statue in the church courtyard. Those will little faith, turned Judas on Starbucks the moment the lights flickered raising doubts on whether or not they would be able to produce the rewards they promised and ran to Gloria Jeans. When Ron was finished with his Catholic duty, we walked the Taksim again since we had nothing better to do. Interestingly, a number of places were closed, presumably because it was Sunday, not because of a Christian holiday. Either way, I was curious since in the Asian countries where there are more Muslims than Christians, Sunday is just another work day for the stores. Walking down the street, we spotted a sign for the Galata Tower. Worth checking out since we had not seen it before, we headed down the hill where we found a man squeezing oranges and pomegranates for fresh juice. Never having had pomegranate juice before, a taste test was in order. I had expected it to be bitter. All of my early experiences with the novelty of eating pomegranate seeds lead me to believe that after the sweetness, there is a bitter aftertaste. The juice, however, was sweet with an ever so slight bitter undertone, a ruby rich color, and a perfect bouquet. The tower was finally before us and yes it looked like a tower sitting surrounded by a small park and lot of shops trying to sell souvenirs or food. There was no explanation of what the tower was, why it was built, or who decided they needed a tower here in this hilly inland area and not by the sea. For 10 T Lira, you could ride the elevator to the top, for what reason that was not clear either other than the obvious view of the water. For five Euros, I will imagine the water from on high that I have seen many times from ground level. Inside by the cashier, there was still little to entice us to part with our money to be taken for a ride. Having walked down the hill by now, we no longer needed to take the funicular and we were at a tram stop closer to our hotel. To reach the tram stop, we had to go underground to cross the street, similarly to Budapest. Also similarly to Budapest are the number of stores and shops underground making this a productive place to pass through. However, very unlike Budapest, this underground had gun stores. Open area gun stores with dozens and dozens of models of hand guns attached to the back wall with more models in a glass case as the only separation between the back of the counter potential customers. Boxes of bullets were off to the side also for sale. Scary! What was more skin tingling, mind blowing, horrifying was that as we walked through the underground, I counted seven of these gun stores. I cannot imagine how many more there may have been in areas where we did not walk. Two gun stores were only separated by a toy store between them, competition and irony in one small area. We went back to our hotel to make shuttle reservation for getting back to the airport. Their sign shows a shuttle service with fixed times at a cost of 16 Euros for both of us. We have seen the same signs at other hotels and hostels for 4 Euros or 6 Euros per person; perhaps it is the location. The desk clerk offered us their own shuttle service for 35 T Lira for both of us with the incentive we could leave when we wanted since it was only us. As we walked along, I remembered an old television commercial I remember from childhood. The screen showed prunes and the voice said “Are three enough; are six too many?” The ad was for a children’s laxative, so the bottom line was to use the product and take the guesswork out of the mix. That slogan “Are three enough; are six too many?” had made its way into Pop culture for a number of years after this ad long faded from the tube. However, this is what I wonder about travel sometimes regarding days in one place: Are three enough; are six too many? At one point, I chastised myself for not realizing I was going to cancel my Tuesday class and we could have come here on Tuesday and not wait until Wednesday. Now I am so glad I didn’t. We really have reached our limit of entertainment and distractions. As we were discussing, most of the museums are Islamic related and difficult to reach. The public transport is not that great; no, truthfully, it is really poor for such a large city. You really need to rely on buses to get off of the beaten paths or trust taxis, but we have had our experiences with taxi drivers who claim it is a higher rate to cross to the ‘other side’ meaning either the European or Asian side depending on which you start out with. They will also drive all around saying “I am not as familiar with this side of the city as (fill in the blank). For dinner, we returned to the restaurant we went to the night before last. The host remembered us and where we sat. It was enjoyable, though Ron’s stomach was bothering him, we cleaned our plates. After a walk around, we went to the dessert place we like the best, the independent bakery and had tea and a dessert there. The rest of the evening was spent watching Schindler’s List; we have to get up at 5:00 am for the 6:15 shuttle. With the fifteen minute commercial breaks, I gave up on the movie by 11:00 pm and waited to hear the last chanting from the mosque for this trip to lull me off to sleep.