Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Turkey Trot

We woke up at a cheerful 5:30 on Friday morning, finished packing and hopped in a cab on the way to the airport.  We had our sights set on Istanbul.  Life had other plans.  After going through the first security checked we were greeted by literally about 300 people queuing up behind the ticket counters.  E looked at me and commented, "this is why we get here early," and we waiting behind our 50 other Istanbul bound buddies.  Once it was our turn we approached the counter, handed over itineraries and passports.  Our ticketing agent was clearly overwhelmed by the crowds but had an annoyed sense of humor about it all, and one very neatly coiffed, perfectly trimmed uni-brow.  She grimaced at the screen and mentioned something about the system going down.  E and I smiled to each other and then looked back at the agent who now had turned her grimace directly on us.  "Your reservation has been canceled, you have no ticket for this flight."
We also like to bring the rain with us
everywhere we travel.
A view of the city from
Galata Tower.

I looked at the clock, Eric looked at the agent, "What do you mean it's canceled, why would it be canceled?  What do we do now?"

"Go back out of security, and go purchase a new ticket."  She shrugged her shoulders, raised her uni-brow at us and said, "Wolla," (which I have not quite gleamed the connotation yet of this word, I think it is like saying, oh well but also has some sort of God reference, again will get back to you on that one.)

So we did, but we ran because now it is literally one hour before our flight departs and we officially do not have tickets to Istanbul.  And amazingly we stayed calm because we have been in this situation before (first trip ever together, Cabo, Eric had a ticket but he did not have a seat, a story for another time).  New tickets were purchased and of course they were at a much higher exorbitant price, because why would they honor a reservation with a reservation number, total, and taxes that they decided to cancel after we made a phone call to confirm?  We were then in a full sprint back up to the counter where the other reservation agent looked at us questioningly, "You just bought these tickets?"  Yes, yes we did, now process them NOW,  please?

Needless to say within the hour we had gone throw passport control, security, and we were sitting side by side on our way to Istanbul, thank goodness the flight was not full.

We stayed in Takism Square which was  perfect location, our hotel was about a 5 minute walk from the main drag.  The main street was covered with brick and a trolley rode up and down it.  There were was a mixture of book stores, boutiques, cafes and bars.

First stop was lunch.  These little spots are literally everywhere.  They are called doners (yes it does rhyme with that and yes we all have minds like 12 year old boys), this adorable old man shaves off the chicken, put it in a pita with pickles, savory spices lettuce, some have yogurt sauce, chili sauce, ahh my mouth is watering in memory.  They are amazing!  We also had fish sandwiches down by the water, which were delectable!  

This is the above mentioned Galata Tower.  We paid our lira and rode the elevator to the top.  We walked around the whole tower giving us panoramic views of Istanbul.

The motley crew at lunch.  We had some fabulous meals, especially our last night.  We went to a wine bar to celebrate a birthday and the wine was so good and the cheese too.  I do not think I knew how incredible cheese was, as my categories have always consisted of: cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella, blue, etc, but whew, my pallet was a very happy one.  Also at the very special dinner we got to witness a proposal that took place literally inches away from us.  I teared up and got goosebumps, my romantic meter was swelling with joy for the couple.  Loves.  

This picture of the blue mosque was taken right between two nice little rain showers.  I have never been in a place where the sun will come out and I was so warm and literally 10 minutes later the winds picked up and I was wrapped up in my scarf.  Word to the traveling wise, always, ALWAYs bring a scarf, one that is big enough to work as a shawl.  I typically throw one in as an after thought but use it everyday.  Speaking of which I got the most beautiful emerald green silk scarf from the grand bazaar.  That is going to be my token from each place that I visit, so far I have one from Morocco, Italy, India, and now Turkey.

Inside the blue mosque.  I had to add a wrap around skirt to cover my legs, my shoulders and hair were covered with the newly purchased scarf from above. (Picture to follow, its on E's camera.)

This place is called the cisterns. It has got to be the coolest place I have ever seen.  The floor is about two feet of water with little fishies and you weave through this underground building on a little bridge.  It is romantic yet a little eery all in one.  Want to know what is just as awesome?  I have heard of this place before because the bachelorette, Ali, had a date there (pretty sure with Frank, the lame one that got back together with his girlfriend like an episode before then end, but check my facts, like you care :).  I am a total dork, but yepp I was pretty pumped. 

This is in the back of the cisterns.  It one of two Medusa heads.  There is no explained reason for why it is upside down.  While I was reading the possible explanations and interpretations I remembered how much I liked the greek mythology unit we did back in the day in Ms. Danforth's class, I think I might have to revive it a little in my future literary quests.

One the third day we took a ferry out to one of the many islands.  It was about an hour long boat ride.  

The boys got their swimming fix in although, I am pretty sure they were freezing.  There were only about two other people in the water that day.  I was chilled just sitting on the rocky beach laughing at them.  The land behind them is the Asian side of Istanbul.

The view from our lunch spot on the quaint little island.  Delicious food and fabulous company.

That is the first taste of Turkey.  On the last night we went to a Hamam, a turkish bath house, it was an experience unlike anything else and deserves a post all to itself, stay tuned!

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