Galata Bridge and Blue Mosque at night, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

Photo EssayAccording to F., you can safely skip the much-recommended Turkish baths (hamam) in Suleymaniye. Besides the fact that they’ll cost you a minimum of 90 Turkish lira (about $45 right now), with scrub-downs or special treatments costing extra, the environment’s not particularly interesting. It’s a tourist trap. Other, less touristy hamams might be better.

I didn’t try it out, but I take her word for it, and recommend getting yourself instead to a Korean spa when and if you’re in Korea (or a Koreatown in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Dallas, or Plano, Texas), get the chance, and have about $25 (for up to 24 hours of spa time!)

Eminönü (Istanbul) roasted chestnut vendor at night, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

I was grumpily walking back alone to Galatasaray from a ferry from Üsküdar to Eminönü after F. abandoned me for the hamam she just had to try, and which I took no small petty delight in hearing crappy things about, later. But Istanbul has considerable charms, and I found myself really enjoying the walk back across the Galata Bridge, taking in the smell of roasting chestnuts, twinkling city lights on water, and a lively fishing scene.

There seem to be fishermen lining the rails of the bridge at all times of day or night, which is lovely, but I don’t think I’d knowingly eat any fish caught in the Turkish Straits, given the crazily dangerous things they ship through it and the well-documented history of maritime accidents in it. The list is lengthy, and makes me wish this knock-out Korean horror movie had been set in Instanbul.

One gruesome and colorful real accident happened in November 1991, when a Phillipines ship called the Madonna Lily hit a Lebanese livestock carrier, killing five people and drowning 20,000 sheep, whose rotting, bloated corpses caused, according to Wikipedia, “major pollution.”

Galata Bridge fishermen at night, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali



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