Friday, December 10, 2010

The Maiden's Tower

A few days ago, Shannon and I had a little talk. We've been so, so busy over the last 10 1/2 months since Lane was born, and especially over the last 5 months since we got to Istanbul. I told Shannon that I know we've been busy and that life is crazy, but that I really needed him to step it up a notch in the romance department. Lately it's seemed that so much practical stuff about life has just taken priority, and we're so exhausted most of the time just from surviving regular life that we just haven't been very good about going out on dates (other than a couple of times to the movie theater) or about making time for each other.

I ate here last night.

Boy, did he step it up a notch!

Yesterday we sat down to lunch and he had prepared a poem for me. Don't worry, I'll spare you all the lyrics, but it basically said that we were going on a date to the restaurant at The Maiden's Tower, that Lane would be asleep, that a babysitter was coming, and not to worry about anything. Well, all that I'd heard about The Maiden's Tower was that it was a little rinky-dink tower in the Bosphorus that had some kinda good views, but wasn't really worth the 5 lira boat ride out there. So...I was excited to go out on a date but not so sure about the locale.

We got ready to go, our babysitter showed up, and we headed out the door. We caught a minibus whose driver told us we were on the right bus to go to The Maiden's Tower. Shannon had even done his homework to make sure of which bus to take, but we figured we should ask too. The minibus driver lied and dropped us off about a 20-minute walk away (argh). Shannon was frustrated because it meant we were going to be late.

"Late?" I asked. "Late for what?"

"For our reservation."

"We have a reservation?"

I don't think we've ever been someplace where we needed a reservation! (Except for last year when we ate at The Seven Glaciers at Alyeska, but I took care of those.) So, we ended up walking as quickly as we could along the Bosphorus until we got to this:

Our boat! It took us the 5-minute journey out to The Maiden's Tower.

When we got out to the mini-island, we were in a bit of shell-shock. They were filming a movie out there, so we got to see some folks smooching for the camera and lots and lots of video equipment. I suppose that if we knew famous Turkish people that it would have been even cooler since we might have known who they were, but if you see a movie or television show in the near future involving lots of red roses, candles, fireworks,and The Maiden's Tower, then let us know because we were there for some of the filming!

Anyhow, we went inside and I checked my coat. We were shown to a table and given menus, and then we realized that this place had only 3 options for dinner, all of which were 4-course meals for a set price. Neither of us were that hungry, because we usually eat dinner at 5 or 5:30, so we'd already eaten something. We asked if we could just order tea and dessert. Nope. We asked if we could share a meal. Nope. We asked if they had a box so we could take anything we didn't eat home with us. Nope. Well, at that point we were going to leave, because while I have a hard enough time spending lots of money on food, I just can't do it if they won't even let me take home whatever I don't eat! As we were getting up to leave a waiter came back and told us that they had arranged something and that we could take our food home if we didn't eat it all. So we sat back down to what was my first ever 4-course meal (unless meals on a cruise ship count).

We started with cold appetizers.

Me with my grilled vegetable gratin. Shannon got breaded shrimp.

Next were our hot appetizers.

My crepe with vegetable and truffle. We forgot to get a photo before it was half eaten. Shannon had spinach and cheese gyozas (whatever those are).

While we ate there was a live band playing and singing in Turkish, English, Spanish, and what we think was French (you know, it's really hard to understand people singing in a language that is not their own unless they actually speak that language. Even the songs in English were difficult to understand). They were awesome. It made the whole experience even better. I don't think I've ever eaten someplace so classy that they had a live band.

The band.

Onto dinner:

Shannon and his salmon with gravy sauce. I had chicken korma.

And last was dessert!

My lemon cheesecake. Not exactly what I had pictured in my mind!

Shannon's caramel parfait. Also not what he had pictured in his mind.

We got our leftovers boxed (or rather wrapped in foil and placed in a plastic mailing envelope...we guess they really don't normally box stuff up!), paid our bill (yikes!), and went exploring the tower. We walked up to the top of the tower, passing the upper level, a gift shop, and the Kuledebar bar. When we got to the top level, we went out on the balcony and walked around the tower, taking in views like these:

The Bosphorus Bridge, with the municipality of Üsküdar on the right.

The Golden Horn as seen from The Maiden's Tower.

After taking in the gorgeous views, we got back on the mini-boat and headed for the mainland.

In front of the boat. See Shannon holding our leftovers in the plastic mailing envelope?

It was nearly 11:00 when we arrived back on the mainland! Dinner took nearly 2 1/2 hours! I don't think I've ever taken that long to eat! We walked a bit, caught a minibus, and walked a bit more. When we got home, Shannon walked our babysitter home and then we finally hit the sack at about midnight.

We had such a good time! Dinner was, yes, quite overpriced. But the food was good. The music was great. The view, at least at night, was amazing. And my husband, my dear, sweet husband. He took my request for more romance to heart and asked friends here for a suggestion as to something unique and nice for us to do. He scouted out the area before we left for our date that evening. He had walked it before and knew where to go when our first minibus dropped us off at the wrong stop. He made reservations. He prepaid the babysitter in Krispy Kreme doughnuts (true story) and arranged with her mother for her to come. He took care of everything.

Yup, I think it was romantic. He'll have to take me to eat at the top of the Eiffel Tower in order to top this one.

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  1. ahh man. that seems divine.

    I've been fantasizing about getting to spend a night in a hotel sans children. I think my dreams need to be a tad more realistic though. :]

  2. wow! looks like a beautiful place. glad you got to go out and enjoy it. That was very sweet of him! :-)


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