Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Life is Good Today (Part 2)...

...And that was just Friday.

Obviously, after that day/night we all slept in a bit for a later start.  

We got going and again took the long trek from our dorm to Sultanahmet. Today, we were going shopping.

See, normally, I'm not a big shopping guy. But there's this place in Istanbul that makes the act really fun. This place is called the Grand Bazaar.

Credit where it is due:
I mean, when that: 
is one of the over 20 gates to your mall, you're doing something right.

We were smart enough to limit our time in the bazaar to an hour and a half, because if you don't do something like this, then you're lucky to leave that place with anything left in your wallet.

In my three visits to the Kapalı Çarşı this trip I have come away with: gifts for my entire immediate family, a new meerschaum pipe, a  handmade turkish coffee set, a gorgeous framed Iznik tile, all of that ancient money from previous posts, and my show of devotion for one of the Istanbul football clubs.

What a perfect segue way.

We left at a certain time because we didn't want to miss the start of the game.
On Saturday, two of the three soccer teams located in Istanbul played each other.  
 Normally, there are giant crowds of rowdies collected at spots in their neighborhoods. 
Normally, the city slows to a halt in the neighborhood where the game is being played.
Normally, this is a big deal.
But, this was no normal game.
Oh, no. You see, the two teams that were playing are also the number 1 and number 2 teams in the Süper Lig standings.
This was a HUGE deal. 
Which meant that despite starting our search an hour and a half before game time, we couldn't find a single bar on the European side of the city that had seats for all nine people with us. 
We walked around until just before game time.

Then, crunch time came and the four of us who truly wanted to watch the match decided to camp outside one of our favorite spots and watch the game through the windows.

It was awesome. 

We ended up standing on the street cheering with about 30 other diehards from both clubs - going to the corner store for a can of beer, or getting a bag of popcorn from the street vendor who came by with his cart.

I've never had this much fun watching a soccer game. Add to it that the game was spectacular, with three of the prettiest goals I've ever seen, and you've got a perfect night.

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