A Friend comes to Town
My buddy from Berlin showed up in Istanbul on Saturday. He landed in the early afternoon and brought a storm with him. We dropped off his stuff at the his AirBnB. We arranged it so that he was right down the street from me. It worked out perfect because we had this perfect little restaurant that I had found on my first day right around the corner from both of our places. So it served as our meet up spot every morning for breakfast.
I’ve never been a person that was a tea drinker. Earl Gray? No thanks. Tea leave reading? Get the hell out of here. But this Turkish Tea has really served me well since Shon had arrived. The man can go and go and go, and since I haven’t smoke pot since I got to Istanbul, my sleeping has been limited to only a few hours a night.
A traditional Turkish breakfast with a piping hot cup of tea and three sugars became my fuel.
On his first day here, after dropping off his stuff and meeting his roommate Mustafa (a student in Turkey studying from Iraq), we headed down to Bosphorus. I had already been here, but Shon being originally from LA and spending the past four years in Berlin, he was desperate to see the Sea.
Oh did we walk. It was a great time having someone else there, particularly a good friend to capture this trip with.
Cats of Cihangir, Istanbul
The cats of Cihangir are notorious for being some of the most gangster felines in all the world. These little fur ball coughing, got me sneezing from their dander animals, run the whole city as one local told us. They go where they want, they take up chairs, they cause traffic jams, and as I have witnessed on multiple occasions in Istanbul, they clean themselves in the middle of the cobblestone streets.
We made sure to get ourselves some Turkish Ice Cream before we headed back up the steep hill to our Air BnB’s.
Shon had a show the night before he arrived, so he hadn’t gotten much sleep and after a long and arduous experience with customs, he was ready for a proper drink. Since I hadn’t had any alcohol since I got here, I too was ready for one as well.
We found a beer garden in the extremely Americanized section of Istanbul. Honestly I don’t think there was a single Turkish person in sight. This isn’t exactly something that you want when you are in Istanbul, but we wanted cold beer and a view of the water. So that’s what we did.
Two pitchers later we had a little buzz on. We decided we should head back so that we could take a bit of a nap before dinner that night.
We got back to our respective Air BnB’s around 8pm. I wasn’t allowed to come back earlier even if I had wanted to, because the water heater in the apartment had exploded, so I had to take a shower in the sink this morning with a bottle of water while they fixed the issue. I wasn’t allowed back during the day because the landlord would be there overseeing the work and because my host was a woman, she wasn’t allowed to have men in the apartment. Yes I know, that seems insane. I agree. This is what happens when conservatives are allowed to do what they want.
So around 10:30 we woke up and met in front of our breakfast spot to go find some dinner. We decided to walk along Istlakal street to find something good to eat.
You got Nike town’s, Lacoste stores, all that other crap you would fine on any main street in any major city. It’s amazing what the regularity of the internet and smart phones has done to how people dress. Shon and I observed that now a days we all kind of dress the same. Don’t get me wrong, each culture has it’s own little idiosyncrasies, but for the most part we all have similar brands and styles that we find popular.
We walked around til around 11:30 pm before we found the perfect place. There was a little old lady flattening dough in the window of what was otherwise an extremely posh looking Turkish restaurant called Otantik. Oh my fucking god! This place was out of this world. We weren’t really expecting it to be anything special due to the fact that it was on the main drag. Normally when you eat in a restaurant on the main street of any large metropolis, you are kind of getting over charged for unoriginal food.
We feasted as you can see. I’m talking every type of meat you could imagine, and yes that is an entire piece of egg plant as well. I couldn’t even finish my whole dinner, so Shon did it for me. You can’t tell from the photo but there is also a giant roasted pepper that I didn’t dare try. Shon did and within seconds he began to look very uncomfortable while he repeated how hot it was. Needless to say, he didn’t finish the pepper.
So after filling ourselves with unbelievable food, we took to the streets once again. This time looking for a night club or bar to get a drink at. You’ve got all these night clubs where a group of dudes stand out front trying to get you to come in to their place. We passed this one place and this guy started chatting with Shon and I. Neither of us wanted to go in because lets be honest, if the place was worth going into and not a scam or worse, they wouldn’t be trying to convince us to come inside. There would be a damn line out front. Shon being the friendliest person I think I have ever had the pleasure to call my friend chatted it up with them and then this short spikey haired prick in all black and desperately needed to hit leg day once in a while, tried to talk to me. Anyone who knows me, knows that my favorite word in the English language is NO. He kept saying how great the place is and how we should come in. He tried complementing me by telling me how strong I looked, but he kept patting my stomach and you and I both know he was actually talking about how I got a hell of a stomach on me lol. Shon said he had never seen me look like I was gonna blow up before and I told him how I was just envisioning smashing the guys head through the wall behind him if he touched me once more and then moving on to his fellow coworkers, leaving nothing but bloody shitty club promoters in my wake.
It’s things like this that make me hate people honestly. Some time I just want to reek havoc on people like these. Some might say this was simply a cultural misunderstanding…No it wasn’t. This guy was just a fucking asshole and deserves whatever tragic thing happens to him in his life. The whole violence is never the answer thing is a lie. Some people definitely need to have their heads smashed against a wall that’s all I’m saying. You learn from getting your ass kicked and clearly this guy hadn’t learned yet. So to all of you who don’t agree, that means you probably need to get beat up more in your life. Because you’ve gotten away with too much. So don’t be shitty promoter guy or girl.
After that strange moment in time, we started to go down these small streets no bigger than a Chicago alleyway that were jam packed with bar after bar full of live bands playing Turkish music. Watching white people dance in and of itself can be a wonderful thing. I don’t understand how some people can be so damn off beat.
There were vendors vendoring, selling fruit and making popcorn right there over an open flame. Motorcyclists zipping in and out of these packed Istanbul streets where the music from one bar bled into the next bar and so and so on all over Taksim. We had almost given up trying to find a place worth our time, until we came up on a corner where a bunch of Turkish gutter punks sat indian style on the floor getting drunk and smoking turkish tobacco. Across from them were two bars. Both seemed like the perfect place to post up.
So we did. The place is called Barish Pub. Great place with great people.
It takes all types
We sat at a table outside like the rest of the people on the street and got ourselves a couple shots of tequila and beers. Within no time we began chatting up some of the people working there as well as some of the regulars.
One had a dog named cloud with him that was half German Shepard half pit bull I believe. Cloud was all white and reminded me of my pooch back in Florida Lola.
His owner Ronnie (I think) a local born in Istanbul, introduced us to his friends. One a Jazz guitarist that was just a real nice guy. And the other a political cartoonist that works for one of the local newspapers. The cartoonist was pretty intense. He would be talking and then out of no where he would say, “Wait for me”. Then there would be a long pause, a strange bulge of his eyes, and a twist of his face, before he would repeat himself all over again. All night, “Wait for me, wait for me”. So you would wait, after all he was a pretty funny guy, and you would wait longer, and then you wouldn’t have a clue as to what he was saying. He told us a story about his last time in Berlin for work and how he was in Kreuzberg and a guy came up on him trying to rob him, he said, “Why? I am Turkish. I am one of your countrymen.” Evidently his assailant was Turkish as well, so the guy punched him in the face and took everything he had lol.
Wait for me Istanbul.