Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Turkey | Istanbul | Topkapi

Having completely run out of saffron and sumac and running dangerously low on cumin and peppercorns, I had no choice but to fly to Istanbul and replenish my supplies at the Egyptian Spice Market. Luckily there was a flight from Ulaanbaatar to Istanbul the next morning. The 3865-mile flight takes about ten and a half hours, including a one-hour layover in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I took the metro from the airport to Topkapi, hard by the Theodosian Land Walls on the edge of the city, and walked to my regular hotel just across the street from the Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque.  It was –32º F the morning I left Ulaanbaatar. By early evening in Istanbul the temperatures were still in the downright balmy low 60sº F, 90 degrees warmer than Ulaanbaatar. Even though I was wearing a very light down jacket I was drenched in sweat by the time I arrived at the hotel. 
Vegetables are still being harvested and seedlings being planted the first week of January in the truck gardens along the outside the Theodosian Land Walls. The gardens are located in the old moat which ran along the edge of the wall (click on photos for enlargements).
More vegetables along the Theodosian Land Wall 
Irises are even in bloom during the first week of January in Istanbul
Breathtakingly gorgeous irises
Shoppers enjoying the balmy weather