Showing posts with label nargile. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nargile. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

An afternoon of nargile at Cırağan Palace Kempinski

 My friend Barb and I had planned to meet a bunch of friends in Istanbul's Yıldız Park for a fitness challenge this weekend. Unfortunately, none of them showed up! We lost our motivation to explore the park. "Let's go across the street to the fumoir in the Cırağan Palace and I'll teach you to smoke nargile," I said. So we did.
First, we wanted to explore the palace.
A view of the Palm Court
from the Grand Staircase.
Imaginative use of glass
creates an aesthetically-pleasing
 foyer within the grand stairwell.
The glass chandelier was unlit
but we could imagine its warm glow.
Cırağan Palace Kempinski artwork
of ladies like us
enjoying the Bosphorus
back in the day.
A view of the Bosphorus
from the Sultan's balcony.
The hospitable and lovely Barçak
at the Hendrick's gin cart
Nargile pipes at rest
The eye-catching array of nargile water pipes
and the pots of fruit flavors
waiting for us to choose.
I suggested apple flavoring
because it is most popular.
Our drinks arrived
and rested on cloth coasters.
They were served alongside Mediterranean treats
of olives, hazelnuts, and cashews.
An Istanbul still life!
The drinks were so quenching!
A refreshing slice of cucumber
set off a glittering gin and tonic.
The drink on the right was gin
infused with rose flavoring.
It was called the Sebestian Vettel
(named for a famous Formula 1 driver).
We selected it from the part of the beverage menu
that showcased drinks
celebrities chose when they stayed there.
Barb said Hendrick's gin was especially known for the
herbaceousness of its flavor.
Naruttin primed the coals
and showed us where the flavoring
went in the pipe.
I'm always struck how by deeply
nargile staff breathe in the smoke.
They prime the pump
by getting the coals burning.
Barb about to try her first puff.
Each smoker uses a disposable tip
that they remove every time they pass the pipe.
It is the yellow part at the top of the pipe.
Barb's first puff of nargile.

Not a bad spot for a relaxing
afternoon conversation.
The expat life!
With typical American attitudes about smoking (we're both against it and find it unattractive), neither of us thought we'd ever try nargile. Yet living in Istanbul makes one appreciate the joy of slowing down, breathing deep, and engaging in conversation with a fellow human being in an unhurried, almost meditative manner.
I like this tradition better than the American tradition of staring at a screen in a sports bar and not talking to each other much. Sharing nargile seems very intimate and close. Besides, it was fun to watch the staff set up for a wedding happening later that night under the palms.
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Having a Morning Wander in Cihangir

One of my rules of life is that each day must include discovery. I recently moved into a new flat in Istanbul and decided the morning after moving day to see what my neighborhood had to offer.
Looking down my street to the Bosphorus
There's a busy street at the bottom
but it is easy to cross over or under.
A bit of cheerful tromp l'oeil as I walk by.
An Ottoman Grave preserved behind a shop window,
the turban signifies he was a man,
presumably named Sofu Baba.
People slip into the small room to pray.
I wonder what his story is!
Not everything is exotic
Domino's scooters,
complete with an advertisement on the box,
for a 30-minute guarantee.
In Istanbul, it seems you can get everything delivered.
If all you want is one single hamburger,
 someone on a scooter will race over to your house with it -
and I do mean "race."
Scooter drivers seem to drive like stuntmen.
The bread seller loaded down
with his morning wares.
How fantastic is this?
A yoga studio on my street.
I pause a moment to appreciate the beautiful tile work
in the underpass.
One of the Ottoman sultans loved tulips
and tulips have been a recurring theme in Istanbul
 ever since.
Morning commuters rushing off the ferry.
They have either come from the Asian side
or one of the islands.
A beautiful Ottoman-era public fountain
constructed out of marble
It's common to run across film crews
in central Istanbul
I've seen up to four cruise ships
docked end-to-end in this Bosphorus port.
Pinch this Iowa girl!
I've never lived within walking distance
of salt water.
Beautiful Ottoman script over a public fountain
Ottoman window detailing
Looking back up the hills:
how does the average 8-year-old in Istanbul
resist this chute?
It just screams "TOY"
to my inner child.
I can't help but imagine marbles...melons...
water balloons... little Mehmet...
rolling all the way down to the street.
Kids, don't try this at home.
 Coming across a nargile station
connected to the popular nargile cafe
in front of the Istanbul Modern Art Museum.
I've been to this cafe before.
 It's easy to get comfortable on their big divans
shaped in a semi-circle
and contemplate life at a slower pace.
The divans can fit you and up to eight of your friends.
I don't know if these are new or old coals.
Right in front of all of the cruise ships
is the Istanbul Modern Art Museum.

Can it be?
I live within walking distance of the
Istanbul equivalent of MOMA
(the Museum of Modern Art)?
Pinch me twice!
Taking a closer look at the life boats.
 It fascinated me that this was the first shop
cruise passengers see as they leave the ship.

According to the staff, this dock served Russian freighters
before cruise ships and the freighter's vendors haven't moved yet.
 A view of Nusretiye Camii (mosque)
from the Nargile Cafe
 The mosque was built in 1825.
Let's walk around to the front of it.
Looking up at the minarets.
It's a beautiful day.
Isn't it fun to discover?
Can you guess what affected these trees
outside sidewalk cafes?
An example of the renovation
that is occuring all over Istanbul.
This will probably be a hotel
or new condominums.
The shore road takes us back into
more of the industrial part.
You don't run across one of these everyday!
A maritime shop
selling ? What is this exactly?
I know the shape from the movies
but I can't name it.
I have better luck naming this -
a captain's wheel.
I wonder if ships keep a spare.
I can't imagine they'd want to be without one.
The man minding the shop good-naturedly put up
with my poking around. It was fun to imagine an
alternative life as a merchant mariner.
Merchant mariners have better poetry
than most industrial sectors
but I think I'd get sea sick.
I never imagined spies advertising!
Let's keep our eyes peeled for him...or her.
Discovery and mystery on my morning wander
...the perfect combination.

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