We really liked Istanbul and are excited we have another day here before we return home. I've come to terms with the little ditty 'Istanbul not Constantinople' being in my head so long as I'm in the city. It could be worse for Shala though, in Costa Rica it was the songs from Dirty Dancing.
We had a super busy day exploring Istanbul. There are so many Mosques and when the call to prayer fillsvthe air it's a bit unnerving - very loud and unusual to an American's ears.
At lunch we devoured baklava which was amazing; and Shala ordered Turkish coffee. She took a sip and said - you have to try this it tastes just like dirt! And she was right. Muddy dirt. But did I mention the baklava?
We toured the Topkapi Palace which was fantastic. It's similar to the Alahambra in Grenada and the Forbidden City in Beijing in that it was a self-contained, own little world for almost 400 years. When I was in 6th grade my mom dressed me up like a harem girl - she told me a harem girl is similar to a belly dancer. Having toured where the sultans kept their harems, well I'm pretty sure she wasn't telling me the complete story.
We of course ended up at the markets - the Grand Bazaar is over 70 acres of catcalls, I mean stalls of Turkish goods (I think a bunch was imported from China). We heard every line scores of times - where are you from? Are you Swedish? Do you want a new friend? Is your name Jennifer? You have the most bluest eyes. Do you want to go to a discotec with me? And on and on. According to my buddy Frommer, the "less attractive" girls get the most attention because they are most likely to fall for the bull. I got a good laugh out of that one. The Spice Market was my favorite and smelled so delicious it made me wish I cook! There was one place that distinguished itself in such a way that those who know me well will see it's a convincing selling point - check out the pic.
I have to mention that we had the scariest taxi ride yesterday. And not just bc it's fresh on my mind - it was worse than taxis in Beijing and Nairobi! We drove on sidewalks, into oncoming traffic, nearly took out several pedestrians who were literally leaping for their lives our of our path. We had prenegotiated a very low flat rate, and the traffic was so bad our impatient driver was beside himself! Hitting the roof, extensive honking, shouting - and we seemed to be the only car on the road in such a rush. I cannot repeat the words that flooded from my mouth during this 45 minutes of terror, but it's safe to say my mom would wash it out with soap! Shala made a good point - next time we should just go with the meter because our lives are worth more than the money we saved!
Our hotel has a bar on the 15th floor with amazing views. We were having a (free) glass of wine up there debating our dinner options when we met a couple IBMers. We ended up going out to dinner with them (Dad, I had my saw) and it was a lot of fun. The British guy works in the same group as Shala and used to live down the street from me in Dallas. We discussed his favorite Tex-Mex places in the neighborhood and even he made fun of Mesquite! It's a CRAZY small world.
On the plane to Bodrum now and ready for five glorious days on the Med!
-- Posted from my iPhone