Istanbul - more taxi scams, pool live and Tarazade festival



I had declared Friday to be my lazy day. So I started it slowly, eating my way through the breakfast buffet (the most spoken language in the room was Arabic), writing, painting my nails etc.


At noon I caught the tram and rode it until Kabatas, the final station. From there I wanted to continue to Suada, a small artificial island in the middle of the Bosphorus.

And this is where I encountered taxi driver scam number two (number one was the day before):
"Madam, there is a traffic problem, I will have to go another way. 60 to 70 lira!" No thanks. 
So I got into the next taxi - somehow it looked to me as if he hadn't reset the taxameter and I told him so. He assured me that it was fine and would cost 15 to 20 lira to Suada.
Traffic of course was no big deal, despite what Driver number 1 had said, and we got there soon.
The taxameter indicated the price as 12.44 but the Driver had "no change" - taxi driver scam number 3 - what's up with those guys?!
Well, I let him get away with 15 Lira athough I was sure that I had heard the sound of coins when he took out his stack of bills....


Anyway, I had arrived! And just a moment later I was on the boat that connects the island with the mainland.





There's a big pool and some restaurants that can probably feed several hundred people - but it was early in the afternoon so only the pool bar was open.
They did however serve food to the sunbeds.

I found one of the few shady spots - it was far too windy to open the umbrellas, so there were only few places. This was my view...

And to the other side

I ordered a "modern Caesar's salad" which basically means that there are shrimps instead of bacon. I guess a salad with pork just wouldn't fly so well in Turkey!

I was glad that I hadn't ordered hot food because with the wind it would have gotten cold quickly.

So those were my activities: reading, looking at handsome young men in bathing suits (there were quite several of those), eating and a long swim in the pool.

I also walked around a bit - it felt like being on a cruise ship
 My "beach" style, complete with Hawaiian bag :-)

Ready to go back

I can recommend Suada for a relaxing afternoon, just know that it's going to cost you a bunch of money! But I reasoned that if I had spent the afternoon shopping I would probably have spent just as much.

So I went from playing rich to acting local and took the public bus to Taksim. Actually I decided that I should use buses here more often. There are so many of them going everywhere and they are not too hard to figure out.


I needed sugar and got a big piece of cake at Özsüt. After which I continued pampering myself by getting an urgently needed haircut.
As usual here, the salon employed mostly very macho hairdressers, some of them looking like construction workers.
And since I was already there I also got my eyebrows threaded. Judging by the amount of work the threading lady did, I had really let my brows go wild recently...


Then I went back to the hotel to change into my evening finery and headed over to the Tarazade festival.

It was the "welcome party" for the workshop participants to meet each other and the teachers.

The first person I ran into was my old friend and fellow dancer Susanne. We had been to Istanbul together about 14 years ago!

We sat down at one of the round tables and were soon joined by dancers from Germany and Greece. Isn't it nice how dance brings the world together?

There was a live band and inbetween  the music Tara, the festivals organizer, gave a little welcome speech.

She also announced a dancer who was going to perform with the band. Unfortunately she forgot to mention her name but she was probably Russian.

We watched the dancing, chatted with everybody and ate some nibbles. Susanne and I also got up to dance with the band for a bit as did others.

Then it was time for me to leave because I had some tangoing to do! 

Using my new bus riding skills I went up to Taksim where I used the new underground entrance that leads directly from the street (which now leads through a tunnel under the square) to the Metro. 
This kind of went against my plan to grab a bite somewhere but I guessed I could still find something later.


The milonga at Levent tennis club is a classic of the Istanbul tango scene - but first I didn't want to go because it's so far away. But well, here I was after all, exiting the Metro station at 4. Levent and as every time wondering where the heck I had to walk.

It didn't help that it was dark, some of the people I asked were not sure where it was either and I had to pee.
But with the help of some landmarks, nearly faded memories of former visits and fast walking I finally arrived - just in time for the bathroom...


The milonga was smaller and less crowded than it used to be but this was fine with me - I think by the end I had danced with nearly every man in the room.



When one of my dance partners who was sitting next to me got up to leave I asked him where he was going - thinking that we might share the taxi fare for at least some of the way. Turns out he was there with his own car and nice enough to drive me all the way to my hotel. 
I think he wanted to use the opportunity for some conversation during the drive but his English was very limited.
We agreed to meet again for the Sunday milonga though.