Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Waiting for my Visa

Last weekend I got my Iranian visa number from the visa agency I was working with and they told me that I could go ahead and apply to the Iranian consulate in Istanbul for a visa.  The consulate is open between 8:30 AM and 11:30 AM Monday to Friday, which means missing class (since class is from 9:00 AM to 12:45 PM).  I asked my teacher what would be the best day to miss last week and she said Thursday.

So first thing on Thursday morning, I went to the Iranian consulate in Istanbul to apply for my visa.  The day before I worked out an itinerary in some detail (Tabriz, Tehran, Yazd, Esfahan, Shiraz / Persepolis) because I figured that they might interview me.  In the end it was quite straightforward and friendly (though expensive).  When they opened the doors to the consulate (about 15 minutes late) the eight or so people who were queued outside filed in and took a number.  I waited maybe half an hour.  When my number came up, they told me that I simply had to walk across the street to a bank, where the Iranian consulate has an account, and pay 180 euros to get my visa.  So across the street I went.  They would not take a credit card so I had to go about a block to an ATM that dispenses euros (in addition to Turkish lira and US dollars).  I got the euros, went back to the first bank, and paid.  Then I went back to the consulate.  They took my passport and gave me a receipt for it, and said that I can pick up my passport with the visa this coming Tuesday.  I only missed two hours of class.

This week there was some nice warm springlike weather in Istanbul (at the same time that DC was having a big snowstorm), so I took some long walks.  Thursday afternoon I did some more exploring of Cihangir.

On Friday afternoon I walked  across the Golden Horn to the old city and went to the spice market (in Turkish it's called Mısır Çarşısı which means Egyptian market) and then to the Sülemaniye mosque.  After the mosque I kept walking to an area called Fatih, which is one of the most religious areas of Istanbul.  I just wanted to see what a fundamentalist neighborhood looks like.  There wasn't really much to see there, except that almost all of the women have headscarves, and I don't think I saw any restaurants that looked like they were serving alcohol.  The strangest thing there was a store selling wedding dresses.  I wasn't taking pictures of it; I simply had my camera in my hand, not even pointing at the store, when someone working there came out of the front door and told me to put my camera away.  Then I noticed the "no photography" signs in the windows.  I don't understand what they are so sensitive about.

Cheese in the spice bazaar

Pastırma (pastrami)

Just outside the spice bazaar

Sülemaniye mosque

Sülemaniye mosque

Sülemaniye mosque

Sülemaniye mosque

Sülemaniye mosque

Sülemaniye mosque

Valens aqueduct

Yesterday afternoon I took the ferry over to Kadıköy, a neighborhood on the Asian side that seems very progressive and fun.  Walking to Kabataş to catch the ferry to Kadıköy, I saw the rainbow steps that were written about here.  There are lots of fish restaurants, bars, and pubs in Kadıköy - very different from Fatih.  My host told me that at night it's like a big party over there.  I will have to go over there one evening.

Seafood market in Kadıköy.  That's sea urchin on the right.

Part of the row of fish restaurants in Kadıköy.


More olives

Grape leaves

More fish

Vegetable market

Turkish coffee in Kadıköy.

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