February 7, 2012

7 Feb

ISTANBUL — Your World Is 360

And the first and final lesson we learned in Istanbul during our lovely trip:  Everyone is an “entrepreneur”

One thing we noticed in Istanbul is that no one seems to have a legit job.  In the one week we were there, not once did we see someone in a suit, not once did we see someone in scrubs, and not once did we see a woman looking like she was going to work.  Given the overabundance of lamb and snake fish in this country, we came to the conclusion that Turkish people were all either shepherds or fishermen, or they owned kabob stands.

This theory was confirmed the only night we actually met locals at a “club.”

Even before we got to Istanbul, this restaurant called 360 was all the talk.  Literally everyone we talked to who had been to Istanbul before was like, YOU MUST GO TO 360, IT IS AMAAAZING.  When we arrived to Istanbul, at least 5 other people told us the same thing – our hotel concierge, our tour guide at Topkapi Palace, our waiter at the meatball shop, the Starbucks lady, and a random dude and his 70-year-old father.  With 360 being literally the hottest spot in town, we agreed it was a must-do on our agenda.

When we get there, I get a serious flashback to NYC circa 2007 when I frequented the meat packing district every weekend.  First of all, let me mention that it took us forever to find this place because it turns out 360 is, naturally, located in the penthouse of an apartment building in the middle of the busiest street of Istanbul.

360 Entrance

We were greeted on the top floor by 3 non-black bouncers and a full-on metal detector, and then the minute we stepped into the restaurant/lounge/ club/apartment, I felt like I was in a coked out 230 Fifth meets Gansevoort (meat packing Gansevoort, not Kim Kardashian Gansevoort).  Because it was NYE, there were decorations out the wazoo, like disco balls, real angel wings, red glittery hearts and silver stars everywhere.  Actually, now that I think about it, it was more like 230 Fifth meets Gansevoort meets 7th grade Bar Mitzvahs at the Grand Kempinski.

Bar Mitzvah

We sit down, and we’re presented with a menu of “Waters of the World.”  It felt like Bob Sinclair “World, Hold On.”  Seriously, this was ridiculous.  I mean someone just please fucking get me some tap water.

Waters of the World

Then we were presented with literally a book of specialty cocktails in superhero comic book style.  My emotions were so mixed at this point I had no idea how to feel about this place.  I order the yeni raki cocktail with beet and then the duck as my entree because I didn’t want lamb — it was good, but not anywhere near as delicious as the duck breast that roommate L cooks up at home.  At this point I was really confused as to why 360 was all that.

Beet Yeni Raki

360 Duck

Before we even finish dinner, the waiters start hustling us out because they need to convert the restaurant into a pumpin’ night club, and so out of spite, W orders another drink to keep us at the table while the club is quickly filling up with people all around us and our table is just standing there solo with three American girls sitting around it in the middle of the dance floor.  Finally we decide to get up, multiple waiters literally swoop in to take away our table, and we’re left standing with our drinks with a dance floor full of sober people without drinks because everyone is strict Muslim in this country.

We’re awkwardly standing around, and these two Turkish guys approach us – one who speaks impressively good English and wearing a suit, and the other not such a good English speaker and with the worst garlic breath I had ever encountered.  We left W to speak with garlic breath over there, while M and I chatted with the English speaker.  I was mainly interested to hear about his profession since this was the first person we had seen in this entire country wearing a suit.  He must be a banker or a lawyer.

Wrong.  He was a carpet dealer.  He sells magic carpets.  Figures.  And garlic breath supposedly was an “entrepreneur.”  Of course.  Because no one fucking works in this country!!!  The worst slash most amazing part of this exchange is that when we ask his name, he responds “My name is Justine, but you can call me Justin.”  Great, we finally thought we were finally being hit on by some locals, and turns out one is an unemployed Quasimodo and the other is a gender ambiguous Aladdin.

Unfortunately, they totally saw us as their Disney princesses.  When Justine over here learns we’re from NYC, the first question he jumps at us with is “ARE YOU FROM BLEECKER STREET?!?!”  I had never met someone with such enthusiasm for Bleecker Street.  Good street, I guess.  And of course he is also super excited that M works at Christie’s Auction House, and starts trying to talk carpet business.  While we made fun, Justine really was M’s perfect match – world traveler, loves carpets as much as she does, wears suits, has a full head of hair, and takes a keen interest in her both personally and professionally.  I’m still wishing for their magic carpet ride hummus-abundant wedding that will hopefully happen in the near future.

All in all, Istanbul was an incredible holiday trip.  With these key lessons learned, if I ever go back to Istanbul again, I know I will be better prepared.

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