Jan and I were feeling very confident about navigating around Istanbul. I had purchased a Istan-go card, which I kept topping up to ride the tram and the subways, which were very user friendly. I’d managed to familiarize myself with the system within a couple of days of landing, though I always consider myself slightly disoriented, and luckily have conditioned myself to be happily lost much of the time travelling, Istanbul’s layout seemed easy to get lost in, but always easy to reorient oneself.
Istanbul has endless shopping opportunities, but we felt that we shouldn’t leave until we’d had one last stroll along the famous Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Street) the mithra or gateway to the mecca of all designer goods possible, that is, possible to purchase at a hefty price. This upscale promenade, where musicians line the streets after dark, is undoubtedly the most popular place to stroll on a Saturday afternoon. We walked up the long steep hill, passing a myriad of musical shops, and at the top we joined the crowd, walking toward Taksim Square, stopping only for a coffee, and an Oo la la Beulah, or was it Betty, in the busiest chocolatier in the city, tucked into a side street just off Istiklal.
We happily chatted with several young romantic couples while we waited outside for our chance to sit at the tiny antique tables upstairs, overlooking the busy street scenes. When our dessert came, we nearly made ourselves sick finishing it, but looking around, we were the only ones that were sharing them, everyone else that had ordered them had them to savour on their own!
Though Sibil, from the hotel Amina had arranged our taxi to the airport, there was still a wee bit of a haggle over the agreed fare when we arrived. We smiled, shrugged our shoulders…shaking our heads in unison…still smiling. He smiled, shrugged his shoulders in acquiescence, and headed off, without his “extra” charge. He was mumbling something about it being a busy rush hour time of day, which it wasn’t. We waved goodbye and wished him well, no hard feelings.