Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hanging Out in Bebek

My aunt and her husband were passing through Istanbul for a couple of days last week, on their way to join a church tour of Biblical sites based out of Izmir, and after a few communication woes, we managed to meet up with them last Monday, their last night, for a drink at the Bebek Hotel, on the Bosphorus. Bebek itself, the neighborhood, is pretty swank and the hotel/bar is also apparently a place to see and be seen (though it didn't strike me as particularly fancy). Cagatay says it's a place where married men like to bring their young mistresses. :)

The bar terrace was packed when we arrived at 7:15pm, which surprised me on for a Monday night. There wasn't a table left but we soon got lucky and scored one on the water. We hung out for about an hour and a half , enjoying mojitos and the Bosphorus view, until they had to leave for dinner. (Only Greg is drinking wine, which is not that surprising I guess since he owns a winery in Washington state; I wrote an article about him in 2007. Wow, 2007 - seriously?)

I am constantly amazed by the Bosphorus, by the history and myths that surround it. The ancient Greeks believed that the straits were the edge of the world and so only the bravest (or the most desperate) would try to pass through - Jason (of Argonaut fame) cunningly tricked the thought-to-be crushing rocks in order to continue on his quest for the Golden Fleece while Zeus' lover Io got turned into a cow and crossed the Bosphorus attempting to escape the gadfly tormenting her. Now, it's this chaotic waterway, filled with both these little tour boats and huge cargo ships making their way between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea and the world.

So, not surprisingly, after we wrapped up at the hotel, Cagatay and I decided to stroll along the water. There's a nice, wide pathway that runs along it and I love walking there because you pass all kinds of things - historical sites, fancy Ottoman houses, restaurants, crazy people, etc. That night was particularly beautiful as we managed to catch that gorgeous sunset/twilight time. We soon came upon the Rumeli Hisari, a strategically placed fortress built in 1452 which the Ottomans used to capture Constantinople the next year, putting a final end to the Roman Empire.

I haven't been inside the fortress yet - apparently there's not all that much - but I remember it from, er, Ali's season of The Bachlorette, when she takes some of the guys there to compete for her affections through olive-oil wrestling. Yes, I'm completely serious. Pin It

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