Slowly but surely I am moving toward a sleeping schedule that I want. Yesterday I woke up around 8AM got to sleep shortly after midnight and was up around 7:30 this morning. After reading for a half hour and getting ready, I was out the door about 8:30. There was a brief panic because I forgot I’d locked my wallet and passport in my locker the night before and for about fifteen minutes thought I had been pickpocketed. After much wailing, gnashing of teeth, and asking Dad desperately for help, it was resolved and I headed out to a local cafe for some kahve amerikali. I get a smaller size but it is just the same otherwise as I got almost daily at my old B&N. From a table at this cafe, I can read, talk to Dad a bit, and watch the city slowly wake up around me. They might post opening and closing times but here in Besiktas, those times are suggestions, occasionally, approximately followed. Businesses open when they feel like it.
But enough about this morning. I’m supposed to be writing about yesterday’s journey into tourist central and then down into Asia in my quest for a phone. As I was finishing up writing yesterday and before heading out I received a hot tip on facebook messenger that the best place to get a phone is from a carrefour and there is a big one right on the other side of the ferry in ayrılık cesmesi, which is a European version of Walmart. After a brief discussion with another gentleman at the hostel and a google search we discovered that there’s also one near Taksim Square. Since A) I haven’t yet seen this hotspot of tourism, B) I haven’t yet taken public transport (tram, bus, ferry) and frankly am a bit scared to, and C) I am stupidly insistent sometimes in doing things my way, off to Taksim Square I went.
After doing the obligatory / touristy three laps taking in the square and it’s immediate surroundings, I headed off to get myself a phone. I made absolutely sure before leaving that I knew precisely what street I should be heading down. (Stop laughing if this sounds familiar) Just to make sure, I had written carrefour s a in my phone so that I could stop any passerby (afedersiniz) point to it and ask where (nerede). No need. Right about where I remembered it would be on the map, I found myself walking right up to the place. 🙂
It was a mini. 😦
I walked in, looked around (which took all of thirty seconds) bought myself a fuze peach tea for a couple TL, then headed back out. Disappointed but not really all that surprised at this point, I kept walking straight in what I thought was a southwesterly direction. Lo and behold, about three or four blocks later, I found another carrefour. 🙂
It still wasn’t all that big. 😦
This one was a bit more like a rite aid/cvs sized grocery store than the Turkish or European version of Walmart I had been hoping to find. So, after a quick look, I kept on going.
To my pleasant surprise, by orienting myself to the sun, I realized that I was going exactly where I thought I was going and it took no time at all to find the sea. From there I just had to head west for a few blocks before I could find a spot where I could walk a few hundred steps down, cross that busy street parallel to straight, and find myself on the shore. I was literally just a few blocks from the ferry and it was such a beautiful day, I couldn’t help but take a few more pictures as I headed toward it.
I knew that there was a really big carrefour right near the landing on the other side of the ferry, but which ferry? There were a couple departing for different locations and I had no idea which one to take. Worse, I hadn’t thought to write the correct location down before leaving. I did try asking a couple gentlemen using the “carrefour s a” I still did know. The first didn’t understand at all. The second did say “yes, yes” and pointed toward Asia but didn’t understand beyond that.
The third gentleman I tried responded to my request in accented but incredibly good English. “Sure. Follow me.” I gave him four TL and he let me use his pass to head in. (4TL is exactly what I paid on the return trip to buy my own token) We sat together and talked the entire ride over. Effe (I’m probably butchering the spelling) asked where I’m from and when he heard I was from NY he asked if I liked the Knicks. I told him I liked the Nets (true, and easier than saying SU and then possibly needing to explain between college and pro). That morphed into a discussion about geography. I shared the differences between the five boroughs in NY and he filled in the blanks when I tried to list the, many more, districts in Istanbul. We compared the bridges, subways, ferries. (NYC has more but smaller of the first two, less and worse in the third) That morphed into a brief recent history of Turkey. Effe is a big fan of both Ataturk and Erdogan.
As we were departing, he told me to make sure I was on the next ferry over for my return trip to Besiktas. We were in Kadikoy, not Uskudar so I knew this wasn’t going to be the same carrefour I had been pointed to in the morning but who was I to look a gift horse in the mouth. Effe told me to head down the street I was on for about ten minutes, take a right and head down for five and it would be right there. Besides the fact I walked a little too fast (I overshot by a block), his directions were spot on. Once again I was reminded of the genuine friendliness and hospitality of so many people I have met here. It is certainly the norm rather than the exception.
Soon enough, I was getting my first experience inside a genuine Turkish shopping mall. Before getting down to business, I walked a lap of each floor taking in the differences (cleaner and quieter) as well as the similarities (I finally found a Starbucks, hallelujah!). Then it was time to get to work. Yes there was a walmart-like carrefour, and right next door there was a techno s a. (Think Best Buy) The latter had the specs on different types of phones while the former, usually, had better prices. There were also a few other smaller shops so after finding the best model at techno, then making sure the best price was at carrefour, I ended up getting myself, miraculously hassle free, a Galaxy s4 mini.
By my guesstimation, I headed to the mall using main streets going northeast and then southeast. If I was correct, I figured I should be able to shoot straight west to land close to the ferries. So far, my thoughts of the European side of Istanbul evoke comparisons to Manhattan. Kadikoy definitely brought the Bronx more to mind. In my brief trip down and back I walked through areas similar to Throgs Neck (where I briefly lived), Co-op city, and Mott Haven. I don’t think it will be long before I will be back on the Asia side and it is definitely where I will be looking to land long term.
PS. My phone is up and running. 🙂