Our Christmas day dawned with an empty fridge, no tree and a house empty of gifts. Had we been celebrating the festive season in England or New Zealand this would have been a disaster of gargantuan proportions. Here in Turkey with shops open, public transport operating and the weather warm enough for a tee-shirt, our day was off to a grand start.
Early morning phone calls to family completed, we headed out the door in search of the most decadent breakfast we could find. As we headed towards Taksim Square our thoughts alternated between a sit down Turkish style breakfast of cheeses, breads and eggs and WAFFLES! Spying a waffle shop opposite the metro exit made our decision and our waffles were soon delivered complete with thick layers of white chocolate spread, dark chocolate spread and brimming with fresh fruit. Wiping chocolate sauce from my mouth I wasn’t quite sure how traditional a Christmas waffle actually was but it was truly delicious.
We made our way down the somewhat quiet Istiklal Cd. and across Galata bridge stopping to watch the fishermen fussing and fiddling with their lines between cups of cay and hauling in the latest catch of sardines. Our destination was the Archaeology Museum in Sultanahmet which we had not yet visited and wanted to dedicate a good few hours to. At the gates of the museum we paused to have our fortunes told: in Emma’s case by a wise strutting rooster and for myself a not-so-wise white rabbit.
Rooster fortune for Emma on December 25th, 2010
White Rabbit fortune for Justin on December 25th, 2010
Onto the Museum itself where we unwittingly turned right upon entering meaning we were consistently navigating our way backwards through the displays. We were particularly keen to see some of the artefacts from the site of Troy we visited during our trip to Gallipoli. Included in this display were some examples of the Priam Treasure that was supposedly smuggled out of the Troy site and Turkey by the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. Other highlights included the display of highly decorated sarcophaguses, the Tiled Kiosk and bricks from the Ishtar gate of Babylon.
We decided to continue our theme of non-traditional Christmas food with a meal of hamburgers and French fries so made our way back towards the Tunel area to find a burger restaurant. Returning across the Galata bridge the fish boats were doing their normal roaring trade as the sea transformed their iridescent lights into an impressionist painting all under the ever watchful gaze of the patient bridge fishermen.
Our Christmas day was brought to a close with a good dose of Christmas television including the movie Its a Wonderful Life which I had never seen before but now consider essential Christmas viewing. Our Christmas day was far from family and even further from traditional norms but its yet another special memory of life in Istanbul.