Last night, my friends and I traveled to Istiklal Street near Taxim Square for a Meze dinner followed by a screening of Ocean's 13. Meze is a typical way of eating in Turkey. It consists of 3 courses. In the first course, the waiter comes by with a large wooden tray with about 36 different cold appetizers that include everything from artichoke to brains. As you make your selections, the waiter shuffles the little square plates like one of those cheap plastic puzzle games with the square missing. The second course is the hot appetizers, followed by the final course of main dishes. Diners often drink Raki, an anise-flavored alcohol, with their meal. My friends and I dined outside, enjoying the cool night air and the sound of dozens of Turkish conversations around us. "Turkish Mariachis," as my friend called them, serenaded patrons in the background. Our Turkish neighbors hadn't even passed the first course by the time we left.
At 22:00, we arrived just in time for the previews to begin. Unlike Latin America, where most of the theaters are brand new with "VIP seating" (Stadium Seating), this theater had seen better days. For twenty minutes, we saw commercial after commercial after commercial after... well, you get the picture. It was incredible. It was ridiculously long. Finally, after probably the 40th commercial, the preview began. That's right preview in the singular. After twenty minutes of commercials and one movie preview, the real movie began. 50 minutes later, the movie stopped midway for an intermission. Everyone left, visited the bathroom, bought a Coke, and had a smoke. 10 minutes later, the movie resumed right where it had left off. What a unique experience?!?