Istanbul - meeting the dancers

What has been missing on this trip so far? A proper Turkish breakfast!

To fix this I met with Lara (if you have been reading my Istanbul blogs before, you have seen her on several occasions). She led me to Kahve 6, a cute little restaurant, where we both ordered big breakfasts. The one on top is hers, a vegan version, while I went for the traditional one.
It's a great way to slowly eat and chat the morning away. Lara told me about her life as an English tutor and occasional dancer in Istanbul as well as her recent trip to Nepal. 
Lara had her cute little dog with her who was very excited about every person who came his way.
When our bellies were full, we walked back to Taksim from where she went to a meeting.
I returned shortly to my hotel to get some extra things for my planned trip to the hamam. 

My walk there led me through the Tarlabaşı neighborhood. Until recently this was concidered a really bad area with shady inhabitants. Now, the run down buildings are renovated one buy one. 
This one is probably just going be torn down soon....
The buildings I can see from my apartment were more lucky. 
One of the many narrow streets with more colorful houses. As you may guess, mostly poor people live here.
Actually, a hundred years ago this must have been a really nice part of town, all built within a few years, judging from the buildings' architectural style.
Here an entire street block has been torn down to be completely rebuilt.
While walking I spotted the domed roof of a church and thought I might visit it. But when I found the entrance it was closed. There are supposed to be more churches in this area as a lot of Christian immigrants initially settled here.
This is the orthodox church of Saint Constantin.
Opposite of the church somebody really likes purple!
When I walked on, the neighborhood soon got more "normal" again with better quality houses.
And the hamam was colorful too! Actually this is the men's entrance, the women's door is around the corner and of course plainer as always. 
After all the walking through the rain, bein in a warm place was just what I needed!
I had been here a few years ago and was treated by the same lady who speaks some broken German.
Well actually, after I had soaked myself in water she let me lie on the hot marble for quite a long time.
With only the sounds of dripping water in the room and the rain on the room this is a good moment to relax and let your mind wander.
So while I wasn't exactly thrilled with the lousy weather, I contemplated that it might also be good for me. In recent years I had often done so many things every day when I was in Istanbul. Walking around for hours, trying to see as much as possible - add to that all the tango dancing and I was usually quite exhausted by the end of the week.
But the constant rain was a chance for me to slow down a bit and relax.

After getting scrubbed down and getting my foam massage I slowly got dressed.
While a bunch of Turkish women passed the afternoon in the entrance hall watching a Bollywood film dubbed in Turkish and smoking...
Then I walked just far enough to catch a bus that took me to the Tünel station and I went uphill from there.
Now I know, you might think it's crazy to go to Starbucks in Istanbul - but hey, it's what all the locals do! Also: Bellavista cake. And free WiFi. What's not to like?
This prepared me to go out again and continue my shopping mission. As you can see below, I was successful: I found a handbag that matches my beloved new raincoat!
Also, see that classy dinner? It's all I had time for that evening...
This is where I spent my evening: A dinner cruise boat on the Bosphorus.
OK I didn't actually have dinner myself, but I was there to keep my friend Defne company who performed on the boat that night.
But first I enjoyed the view!
There was also a singer. Probably all the guests that night were Iranian and so was the music. 
I enjoyed the show and joined in when people got up to dance. 
Another boat going up and down the Bosphorus for the evening.
Finally it was Defne's showtime!
Some audience participation is part of the show and for this evening I was kind of Defne's partner in crime, doing an entire dance with her which we both enjoyed a lot.
This little girl clearly was awestruck by the glitter princess in front of her. 
Afterwards I went out just for a moment to take more pictures.
The second bridge with the Rumeli fort to the left, where we had been last September.
A freighter passing by.
Me pretending to be the captain (with his permission of course).
It was close to midnight when we got back up to Taksim - close to my birthday! Defne thought we should celebrate and we ended up in one of the cafes that were still open.
And since you have already seen every meal of that day, here's my first Birthday cake! More to follow of course.