Last night I was out for a night on the town with a lovely couple here (Kevin and Jason, who were introduced to me by my friend Gabe). They took me on a tour of some of Seoul’s neighborhoods by night, and I realized something fundamental about Seoul that I feel I had been missing before. There are many small interesting areas that are quite compartmentalized and a little difficult to find if you don’t know exactly where they are. Many times I had been very close to an interesting street or area and had not known anything about it, I had been stuck in some charmless canyon of a street with high walls and no shops or street life at all. Kevin and Jason (and their friend Guido who joined us) took me on a stroll through several of these areas, and they were teeming with life (I am sure it being Saturday night did not hurt anything). We walked through Insadong, up in a cute area near the Anguk station (where I had been a few days ago, but never saw this part), along the canal, had dinner and then ended up at a sweet gay bar (which felt more like a restaurant to me, everyone was sitting at tables) in Jongno. As is always the case, meeting up with a local is the best way to discover a place, and these guys were so great to hang out with.
After other dinner plans fell through, I called up my friend Emre (who I met in New York when he was there for three months in 2009) and he came to meet me for a little walkabout and dinner. And what a fantastic welcome to Istanbul it was. Emre and I share a love of great food, and back in 2009 I was showing him all manner of NYC restaurants. Last night he took me to a really excellent one here and I told him to order whatever he thought we should try and this was the delicious result:
OMG, everything above was so good! (It probably didn’t hurt that I was starving and had been eating only small amounts of crap airline/airport food all day). We had two kinds of salad, some amazing dolma, a meat and rice dish, and maybe the best kefta I have ever had.
After that we took a little walk around my neighborhood (Taksim) and area close-by, and he took me to a kind of hidden rooftop restaurant (well, there was no noticeable sign out front anyway) for a coffee and fantastic view over the Bosphorus. He then suggested we go out to a club close to my place, but I was so beat (had been up since 5am for my flight after all) that we called it a night and I hit the bed like a stone. This morning and afternoon we will explore the Sultanahmet area.
I already get the feeling I am going to love it here in Istanbul.
When one is traveling with a camera as much as I do, one takes a lot of photos. I also have a penchant for wanting to document the people I meet or friends I am traveling with. It also tickles me to get us in the same shot, whether or not there is a handy passerby to take the photo. As such, I have gotten really good at taking these shots myself. I almost never miss framing everyone at (my own) arm’s length. Since I have taken so many of them over the past few years, I thought it would be fun to put a bunch of them together into one collection. So here is the album, 100 shots of me and my buddies (in chronological order no less). Enjoy.