Friday, April 11, 2008

New Blog

Since writing about Istanbul was about my favorite thing about my trip to Turkey, I'm gonna keep it up. To the two of you that read this, you can now go here.

Unlike my last non-trip-related blog, I won't be posting about work* or sailboats, so it'll be family-friendly. No promises on language, though. I AM STILL THE AUTHOR, after all.

*No pinky swears on this, but I'll try not to.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Letter

Dear Istanbul,

Do you miss me?

It has taken me some time to write this letter to you, to recap our time together, because I needed to digest (some pun intended). You are easier to love from a distance, and I mean that in about the nicest way possible.

Remember when you couldn't wait for me to leave? When I had just gotten there, and you threw your best material at me to just get out. Your restaurant and shop owners wouldn't leave us alone. You got a man on the street to grab my ass. And then... well, and then you made me physically ill for over 2 days, after eating bad: a) chicken in the wrap at the Grand Bazaar, b) community bread, c) Turkish delight from the Spice Bazaar, d) lamb, yogurt and rice, or e) all of the above.

Last, but not least, you sent the hostel owners to knock on our door the morning BEFORE the day we were going to leave.

Knock, knock. "You checkout today? It is past checkout time."

"No, we check out tomorrow."



Knock, knock. "That was just joke." (Joke is pronounced "yoke")

Please ask me to perform this exchange for you with my accent. Also, my brother has gotten quite good at asking me if he can harass me with a Borat accent. If he ever comes to visit you, make sure you ask him to do it. Quite funny. A good yoke.

You know what, though, Istanbul? Even after everything you put me through, I stayed. And after my last day with you, I'm sure glad I did.

You're lucky to have Ben, who I had the. most. fun. with. even when you were being temperamental. He knows you very well, and makes you much nicer and more enjoyable to be around. Our last day together is the perfect example. Even though you managed to help Whitters and I snap at each other, Ben was the peacemaker (just as he helped find peace between you and me).

We met at Eminonu to have a fish sandwich for lunch under the Galata Bridge. I thought it was YUM-O, especially because it did not remind me of lamb, yogurt & rice (see above) and was not a weird interpretation of American food (please quit putting corn on your pizza and pickles in your stroganoff).

Even though it was 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside, we wanted to give your Bosphorus cruise a chance. We paid a shady character to get on a Yol-Tur boat, and after we paid and were told to sit on the top in the exposed, FUCKING COLD air, we thought something must have gone awry with our plans. We stood up to come to the first level of the boat, to sit inside the glass-enclosed area, and the shady man, who resembled a mobster, gestured violently for us to SIT. BACK. DOWN. (Was it then when we realized we were supposed to be on a Tur-Yol boat?) He was trying to get more people on the "cruise," and I'm sure he thought some Americans sitting on the top in the "breeze" would get him more customers. Whatever. 
We walked down the stairs, and into what could comparably be called warmth. Sure, it took the boat a few donuts to get out into the Bosphorus. Sure, there were only 8 or so other people on the boat (Ben comforted us by saying that as long as there was an older American couple accompanying us, then nothing bad could happen because "mom" and "dad" were there). Sure, we were sitting on exposed, crumbly foam. Sure, the shady guy ate his lunch but never proceeded to tell us what we were looking at. But boy are you pretty when you want to be.

The boat ride gave me a chance to talk to Ben, who I really miss. And even though it was cold, shady, and we all half-thought we might be sold as slaves to Dubai... it was worth it. You usually are.

Luckily the boat docked in Eminonu, not in Dubai, where we deboated and headed back to the Grand Bazaar. In the square, though, we found an old man selling seed to feed the pigeons, and we had one of the best moments of our entire trip. Thanks for bringing back memories of Edith.

At the Grand Bazaar, we wrapped up our purchases for the trip, and I finally got good at bargaining. Eh, sometimes I'm a slow learner. I did not partake in any food offered.  I learned quickly on that.

We headed to Ortakoy and Bebek, where you are beautiful and hassle-free.

In Ortakoy, we ate at a roof-top restaurant, had wonderful cheese pizza, and admired the view of the mosque that sits on the Bosphorus. 
We found a bookstore, my heaven on earth, and I found a little bit of comfort.
In Bebek, we had Starbucks, and I caved into the wonderfulness that is waffles as a street snack. I think we'll be repeating that with your friend America.

After Bebek, it was time to take Ben back to the SuperDorm! by way of seeing his campus. We hiked up the hills from Bebek to Bogadici, working off those waffles, and saw one of your best views. Thank you for letting that be the ending note. After a quick apple tea, we left Ben and boarded the bus to pick up our bags from the hostel.

We said goodbye to the Blue Mosque, walked down the street to the Antique Hostel, where they called us a cab and also let us put Ben's iPhone (that he left in my purse) in their safe until he could come get it. Iffy hostel, but really nice guys.

It would take us 28 hours from this point to get home.

All Best,


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Quickie Update

The Neyneys are back!

"I've never been to heaven, but I've been to Oklahoma..."

More later - last day was great.

Monday, March 31, 2008

For Giles:

Turkish harassment comment of the day to me:

"Please, excuse me. You have very nice bust."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A good day in Istanbul involves an art museum

Today we decided to go back to the Grand Bazaar with Ben (he helps us with our negotiating) and go to the Istanbul Modern Museum of Art (heretofore referred to as my Istanbul Happy Place). The Grand Bazaar was closed today, but the shops around it weren't. Whitters got a pretty lantern, and I got a few more souvenirs, and the shopkeepers were extremely nice. We got on the tram to Tophane, and got off at the Modern. We walked through several nargile (like hookah) bars that had really cool outdoor seating areas with bean bags, but it was TOO COLD to sit outside. We planned on heading back to one after we saw the art.

I LOVED the museum, not to overstate it. It was airy and not crowded at all, and I just felt comfortable and was able to relax. I didn't recognize any of the artists, but the paintings were beautiful, and the museum had huge glass windows that looked out on the ships on the Bosphorus. I don't know what it says about me (but I think I do not like big, crowded, bustling cities), but I liked being on the calm inside watching the crazy outside. We walked downstairs to the temporary exhibits, and one of my new favorite exhibitions is now "False Ceiling" by Richard Wentworth. I'm going to do something like it in my future library or future child's room in my future house. Isn't it cool? (It's amazing in person.)

After a little bit of browsing and buying in the museum shop, and after we realized that the cafe with a very good view also had very expensive prices, we left to go partake in nargile. In the nargile bars and also the coffeeshops, many of the men play Backgammon. Since we don't know how, we sit in bean bags and play checkers. This is the stalemate between Ben and me:

We also drink apple tea (or Coca Cola) and smoke the nargile (we've tried lemon and mint flavored tobacco - don't think we went too crazy). Ben smokes:

Ney-ney's pose:

I smile in Istanbul:

After we left, we walked outside and I discovered BAKED POTATOES. Ben helped me order one, so I got just cheese and butter (no olives, corn, hot dogs or some of the other various toppings). It was YUM-O. Whitters got one of her crazy good pancakes, but I'll let her tell you about it.

While we were sitting, waiting on the tram, Ben thought I should take a picture with the crumbling part of Istanbul to "capture" my experience on this trip. Here I am:

For the most part, a good day. Tomorrow is kind of our last day (we're going to the airport at midnight - Turkish law states that for an international flight you have to be checked in THREE HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES before your flight - and since ours is at 5am, we didn't want to pay for another night). We're going to Topkapi Palace, back to the Grand Bazaar, to meet Ben for a fish sandwich under the Galata Bridge, and we just might get on the Bosphorus if it's not too cold.

You were right, Grant Thompson

SOMEONE made me post this because he may have been right about me not needing a converter, just an adapter, to charge my computer.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Just for the record...

... I wasn't holding out. I'm just THAT dumb folks. I didnt know that Lysol freshened air. I'm infinitely sorry.