Teenager Talk On The Sexy Side Of The City

This blog entry about the events of Saturday, June 04, 2011 was originally posted on June 06, 2011.

DAYS 2-3 (PART 1): “It’s so big,” Jeff said, unconsciously setting up his own punchline as we stood marveling inside the beautifully cavernous Aya Sofia. “I remember Alex saying that after it was built, nothing was bigger in the world in a thousand years.”  He paused before saying a bisyllabic “Hmm-mm?” with a rising question inflection at the end — a sort of European version of a “That’s what she said” joke that he’d picked up in Germany watching soccer with Spanish commentators, who used the phrase to imply any innuendo on the playing field.

I’d known Jeff for about three years and a lot of our inside jokes while working at one interactive ad agency in New York involved a very sophomoric fourteen-year-old sense of humor amongst our little clique, many evolving from Internet memes like Keyboard Cat. Our longest-running one to this day is to say “I deed it, mayne. I’m da best,” quoting the awkward yet immortalized wannabe gangsta rapper Eli Porter. (Eli’s Internet meme became so popular, it’s spawned a documentary.)

“Deed it mayne,” he said as we left the grounds of the former Byzantine church-turned-mosque-turned-museum.

Aya Sofia‘s the best mayne,” I responded. 

Aya Sofia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was definitely one of the best of the must-see historical sites on the European side of Istanbul, a city so worldly it’s spread out on both sides of the Bosphorus strait dividing Europe with Asia.  Built in 500 A.D., Aya Sofia housed impressive Christian mosaics, Muslim proverbs, sarcophagi, and other historical artifacts.

Aya Sofia is situated in the uber-touristy neighborhood of Sultanahmet, where most of the must see sites are within walking distance of each other. Down the street is the Blue Mosque, the grand mosque built by Sultan Ahmet I, and around the bend is the Basilica Cistern, an underground reservoir filled with waters brought over via aqueduct from the Belgrad forest 19 km out of the city. 

“This is some Tomb Raider shit,“‘I commented to Jeff, admiring the underground lair of water, fish, and two curious Medusa heads carved into two of dozens of doric, ionic, and corinthian columns that not only supported the structure, but gave the entire place a mysterious air of adventure like in a Tomb Raider movie or video game.

“Yeah I can totally see this as a video game,” Jeff said “Climb these columns and swing on those beams.. [and then find a switch so that water rushes in and you have to rush out of here.]”  Jeff was totally on my level of grown-up teenager talk, having also been to many places around the world, but could still see things in terms of video games.  In fact, the approach to Sultanahmet from the northern waters, with the New Mosque in the background, looked oddly familiar to both of us; it was in a scene of the PlayStation 3 video game, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

“It’s definitely just a random mosque,” I told Jeff as we got an overview of the city from atop the Galata Tower in the Galata district, on the northern side of the Galata Bridge, a haven for fishermen.  (All this time, we assumed the mosque in the game was one of the famous historical ones, but from a bird’s eye view, we confirmed that Istanbul just has plenty of mosques to talk about.)

WHILE THE TOURIST AREA ALSO INCLUDES THE GRAND BAZAAR, an emporium of cheap goods and kitsch similar to most places in the world (but also housed a recommended kebab spot that Jeff and I checked out for kebabs and fried meat), THE grand-daddy of all tourist sites in Sultanahmet is the Topkapi Palace.  The former palace of many an Ottoman ruler, a Conqueror, or Sultan since the 15th century, it is now a museum whose grounds harbor many artifacts, from swords to precious jewels to period clothing (all of which are forbidden to photograph).  Manicured flower beds and maintained lawns surrounded the different domed buildings of decorated doorways, ornate walls, and views of the Golden Horn waterway.  But most importantly, there’s a separate “wing” of the palace grounds (that required another admission fee) to see the former harem.

“I can imagine what happened in there,” Jeff said with a smirk.  Later he hummed “Love is in the air,” possibly inspired by the painting of a topless women that was randomly placed above his bed mantle in his hotel room.  (“You’ve got titties on the wall,” I told him when I saw them.)

However, love and sex was pretty desolate in the now-defunct harem, but it was easy to imagine all the sexy time that was had within its halls and rooms.  Mostly used as private apartment space for ruling men, there were bedrooms and courtyards where sultans and their cohorts had their pick of concubines — mostly foreign women who were enslaved into the sex slave they were “at a tender age,” according to one explanation display. 

WHILE SEX DIDN’T REALLY EXUDE from the old harem’s premises, there existed “sexier” places outside of touristy Sultanamet.  “Now this place is sexy,” I proclaimed at a trendy outdoor backyard in the Cihangir district, a formerly rundown neighborhood rapidly becoming the next draw for artsy ex-pats who love gentrification.

“Yabancification,” Meg told us, as it derived from the Turkish word for foreigner.  It wasn’t completely yabancified just yet though; there was still a local scene out in the little streets; one particular image that sticks out to mind is one of an old woman holding a string out her third story window, with a bucketed tied to the end of it.  Inside was a five lira note so that someone could sell her milk or some type of grocery without her every having to leave her home.

Anyway, we snacked on sexy wine, sexy fried liver, and sexy sea bass bruschetta at The White Mill, an establishment so sexy chic that they usually had a posh attitude on weekends when it’s jam packed for brunch (even with Long Island Ice Teas costing over $20 USD each)!  It was there we sat amongst sexy people before taking a taxi to the Ortakoy waterfront district, another “sexy” area full of bars, restaurants, some hotels, a plethora of baked potato stalls (it’s an Istanbul thing), and hookah cafes — all mostly catering to people who avoid touristy Sultanahmet.  “Deed it mayne,” Jeff quoted yet again as we stepped out of the cab in the new neighborhood.  (It hasn’t gotten tired yet, even have three years, mayne.)

“Now this place is sexy too,” I said.  We were there at nightfall, just as the Bosphorus Bridge to the Asian side of Istanbul was lighting upWe smoked hookah that night, talking about life and travel, as Turkish families around us enjoyed the clear night and cool temperatures.  Whether or not they considered the scene “sexy,” I don’t know.  As for talk of video games, I knew they at least knew about Angry Birds because one ad campaign found the Metro tunnels definitely capitalized on it

It was a nice two days exploring the European side of Istanbul: its signature street food, like mussels and grilled mackerel and onion sandwiches; its local Efes beers, chai teas, and Turkish coffees; and its interesting people who go about life just like in any major city, whether they are sitting around playing backgammon, dancing at night, or simply sporting the most awesome mullet we’d ever seen.  However, in order to completely see all of Istanbul, we’d have to take a walk on the Asian side.

“Ever been to the Asian side?” I asked Meg.

“Hmm-mm?” Jeff jokingly interjected.


Erik, the green, unripened sour plums found on street carts all around Istanbul, goes for three Turkish lira a kilo.  What a bargain!

Next entry: It’s Not Racist If You’re Already Asian

Previous entry: Turkey Jerky

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Comments for “Teenager Talk On The Sexy Side Of The City”

  • So many pictures in the gallery and not enough time to write anything to link them too.  But enjoy them either way.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/06  at  01:09 PM

  • Next up: The Asian Side.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/06  at  01:31 PM

  • mullet awesomeness!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/06  at  05:39 PM

  • You? 14 year old sense of humour? NO WAYYYYYYYYY.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/06  at  07:22 PM

  • fixed a sexy time link….

    angry bird sexy time…

    that mullet is sexy time.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/06  at  10:38 PM

  • Ortakoy is poppin b

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/07  at  02:09 AM

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This blog post is one of nine travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Jive Turkey," which chronicled a trip through the Eurasian country of Turkey.

Next entry:
It’s Not Racist If You’re Already Asian

Previous entry:
Turkey Jerky


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