17 July 2015

A Visit to Asia: Kanlıca and Yogurt

Since summer has finally arrived in Istanbul, E&M and I have been trying to put weekends to good use with trips like Mount Nemrut and a blue cruise (post coming soon!) and day trips around the city. A few weeks ago we decided to trek over to the Asian side to the village of Kanlıca.

It takes a lot to get me over to the Asian side. I can't really explain why I avoid it since I generally love any reason to get on a vapur, but avoid it I do. However a trip to a village famous for its yogurt was reason enough even for me. Especially when you realize that Kanlıca is up near the second bridge so it's a vapur (from Kadıköy to Üsküdar) then a bus (any of the 15s). A bus on a Saturday. There just aren't words for how horrible that is. Buses get so full, they rarely have AC and a couple open windows does not generate enough air to counter the million sweaty, non deoderant wearing bodies that are pressed up against one another. You really don't even have to bother holding on; you're packed in so tight you're not going to fall.

Yogurt with strawberry & kaymak ice cream

An hour and half after we left home we arrive in Kanlıca (Kan-lih-dja). We head for the first yogurt place we find and luckily get a spot near the water. Kanlıca does have a ferry stop but it's only serviced by the Bosphorus tour line which means the four (possibly?) departures each day are not at convenient times.

We sit down and order water (we need to rehydrate after that bus ride) and yogurt. E and I both order
ballı yoğurt (yogurt with honey) but M decides to be adventurous and orders the dondurmalı yoğurt
(literally, ice creamy yogurt). When it comes, the yogurt arrives with a bowl of powdered sugar. Apparently this is a thing. Ookay. Why not. It's good...but I am not a yogurt connoisseur so to me it just tasted like yogurt.

After yogurt we hopped back on the bus (sigh) to backtrack to Küçüksu Pavillion. Possibly the least expensive palace ticket (5TL) I've ever paid, it also comes with the world's shortest tour. A bunch of people gathered in the entrance foyer for a brief history of the small palace and a description of some of its features. The guide spoke only Turkish so I interpreted for E&M.

My stellar Turkish resulted in a truly informative discourse for them. Somewhat along the lines of:
  •  Built in 18-something something
  • two floors
  • look an impressive staircase
  • there's stuff in that room made out of walnut (wood not nuts)
  • Ottomans did something
  • Dude, who really wants chandeliers this ugly?
  • Gardens...
It was a truly informational day for us all.

After his speech we were left to wander the rooms on our own. Holy over-decorated, Batman! I like me some bling but really? No. I can never help but wonder if all the gilding is really real or how it made it through wars and revolutions unlooted. Generally one is not allowed to take pictures in these palaces but I find that if you raise your voice a register, address the guard/guide as abi (big brother) and super politely ask if you may take a picture that they'll let you take one or two. I did not actually take any pictures though after going through the difficult process of being charming and asking, I brought the wrong lens.

Being as the pavilion is near the second bridge we had a great view of the European Fortress on the other side of the Bosphorus.

So, maybe I wasn't totally blown away by the yogurt, but it was definitely worth the trip. For the parts of the bus ride I was able to see outside I had a heck of a view.  The icing on the day's cake was not the powdered sugar served with the yogurt, but the fact that, after missing two buses coming out of the palace, the bus we caught back to the ferry stop was both air conditioned and empty. It's the like the unicorn of Turkish buses.

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