Back from Nicea...

A quick post this morning on our return from Iznik with much more later: to say that we are living at 4 times our usual pace is an understatement.  Taking in some sights during the day, hustling cabs to get to gigs, playing for 3 hours each night, schlepping home and then heading out for libation and nutrition at 12 midnight is a demanding existence and perhaps that is one of the reasons why Iznik was such a sweet change.  Our hosts, Ahmet and Eser, picked us up at our door, drove us to the ferry (a 90 minute ride that I managed with NO motion sickness!) and then drove us another 60 miles to the hotel.

It was serene and beautiful - right on the ancient lake - and we all felt like we'd died and gone to heaven.  And we got to play outside - by the late (photos to follow) - with a dinner music set and then some rock and soul.  Throughout our hosts kept us plied with mezze and sour cherry juice and vodka, too.  After the mellow first set I don't think the crowd was expecting our jazzy mix of James Brown, Bob Marley, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and Tito Puente; but we got the crowd up and dancing so the night was a success.

It was great to sleep without the sounds of taxicabs honking at 3:00 am so we took full advantage of the quiet. Then on Sunday, we got a chance to visit both the ancient Roman amphitheatre and the walls of the old city.  It was breath-taking to stand in places that go back before the first century.  Then we went to the restored Nicea basillica from 397 CE.  Eventually it was time to jump the ferry back to Istanbul and return thanks to our hosts (more about their socio-political insights next time.)

We arrived back in Istanbul about 7:30 pm, took a quick nap, ate fresh fish in a working class neighborhood and let the women get to sleep early while the men went out to find live music. We heard two incredible local bands - one very traditional acoustic music and the other a wildass Arabesque/disco band - and both made our hearts sing.  With another jazz gig tonight on our penultimate evening in Istanbul, we called it a night at about 3:00 am.  Thank you for your Father's Days notes and prayers:  now onward to the Bar Code Cafe.

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