So my friend Regan is in town for ten days, on vacation from her stressful job in Doha. It's only natural that she should crash with me, as I used her couch in Bahrain as my escape from Riyadh on more than one occasion. This weekend, we had basically the best time ever, under perfect blue skies and weather that wasn't too hot or humid.
My HHE arrived on Friday - 3000 pounds of stuff from Riyadh and DC, including my books, throw pillows, artwork, and all the other stuff that makes me feel at home. After unpacking it all and deciding to leave the real work for later, we went to a brief happy hour with coworkers, then spent the rest of the evening sitting by the Bosphorus in my favorite neighborhood in the city, smoking and nibbling on cheese plates under the stars. On Saturday, we set out for a day in the Grand Bazaar, where we sipped tea with merchants, negotiated better prices for jewelry, and in the star attraction of the weekend, spent three hours chatting with an antiques dealer I know about history, life, and politics. We walked out of the store a little poorer but much happier for the experience. Like any good salesman, he knew how to read his customers, and he found the perfect prizes for us among his piles of copper, brass, and iron wares. We were worn out afterwards, so nothing would do but a Turkish bath and a massage, followed by dinner on the Hippodrome.
Sunday brought us to Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue, from which we wandered to Galata Tower by way of a number of small specialty shops on the side streets. After buying homemade soap and hitting a wine cellar for samples, we hopped on a ferry to Asia for dinner, going to one of my favorite places that does Turkish food simply and very well. We returned to the old city as the sun set, and we got to the roof of a hotel overlooking Ayasofya just in time to get a bottle of wine to sip as the evening call to prayer sounded.
The perfect weekend, yes?