Istanbul - exploring, shopping, dancing...

Saturday morning was a bit overcast which was fine with me because I wanted to start it with some walking.
For years I had been driving on the main road through the Roman aqueduct and especially this time I really liked the view from the bridge that goes from Aksaray over the Golden Horn to Beyoglu.

And since a visit to Istanbul just isn't complete without some exploring I packed my big bag (so I could go straight to the festival's workshops afterwards) and marched off.

Starting with a nice floor mosaic in a park is always good!
There are dozens of shops for musical instruments on that street and just out of curiosity I went into a few to ask for finger cymbals. But like I had suspected they only carried some cheap models that sounded like plastic.

Getting on the bridge is not easy on foot - there are several roads leading to it and away from it, all with heavy traffic. You need strong nerves to cross the streets - but finally I made it and started walking past the inevitable fishermen. 
Something new in the Istanbul skyline: The metro bridge opened earlier this year.
View over to the Sultanahmet mosque

At the end of the bridge I was faced with another confusing, pedestrian unfriendly street arrangement - and then I spotted the escalators that lead up to the metro bridge without even looking for it!

Of course I went up immediately. 

What a great view! Since Istanbul doesn't have a big ferris wheel, I declare this bridge the next best thing.
Time for some dramatic HDR photography - here looking back to the bridge that I had come from with the Shehzade mosque on the left.

Beyoglu with the Galata tower

Pictures taken, I took the metro, even if it was just to the next station.

Wall paintings

More mosaics!
I would like to note that even though there is no sign on the escalators telling people to "stand right - walk left" (like they are all over the London underground) the Istanbul people do it very well!
Several escalators later I exited on Istiklal Caddesi for a little bit of shoe shopping. It HAD to be done!

Everybody was taking pictures of this gigantic döner.
Going through the shops I kept bumping into two Dutch women who were desperately looking for shoes in size 40. "Turkish women have small feet it seems!" they concluded.

I also had a wonderful lunch at the Ficcin restaurant. As usual, the food tasted as if a Turkish mama had cooked for her family and you were getting an extra plate.
Köfte with mashed zucchini:

Some more shops and 3 new pairs of shoes later I arrived at Taksim square and managed to identify the right bus that would take me right in front of the festival's hotel.
In case you were wondering when I find the time to write my travel blog: waiting for food and using public transport are excellent occasions for it!

I had chosen two workshops with Turkish teachers, both taught choreographies that were actually too long to be seriously learned in 2 hours - a common problem at these festivals. But as in every dance class I picked up a some useful movements and combinations.

Afterwards I quickly returned to my hotel to get changed for the evening and deposit my new shoes. I hope we'll have some nice weather back home so I can wear them because they are all summer shoes!

And back on the tram I went, fortunately it's only about 15 minutes to the festival's location. 
Also, the big gala show was supposed to start at 8:30 PM but I knew that it wouldn't be a problem to arrive later. 

Somehow I keep just automatically meeting the right people. Photographer Michael Baxter had told me about two Californian dancers, Courtney and Lara, who were coming to the festival as well. And guess who came to sit right next to me at the table!
Since we were not allowed to photograph the dancers, here's another picture of the really great band.
The show itself featured the festival's teacers. It was very varied and everybody danced really well.
I also enjoyed watching the different styles and expressions.

It was after midnight when the show ended and all I had eaten were the nibbles on the table. 
So I caught a taxi to the Aksaray tram station where the nightly street market was in full swing.

I walked up the streets to my hotel where I was sure to find an open restaurant at 1 AM. 
It was even warm enough to sit outside.
The restaurant owner chatted with me a bit for company and I was actually hungry enough to eat a full meal - after which I was really stuffed and went to bed to digest...