Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Istanbul not Constantinople

Eid has come and gone….leaving me with many, many enjoyable memories, a slightly depleted bank account, and a new found love of Turkey.

For the past few months I have been composing a “Top Ten Reasons to Live in Dubai” list in my mind. So far occupying the top spots we have shwarma (delicious little chicken sandwich) at 5, sunny warm days at 4, ladies night coming in around 3, and then it is a toss up between going to the beach in November and the easy accessibility to other cool spots on this earth. Over our 5 day Eid break, T Love (Teresa), Brad “the arranger”, T Kettle (Tim), and I took advantage of this last factor and headed to Istanbul. A 5 hour flight aboard Singapore Air and we woke up in beautiful Turkey.

First impressions? BRRRRRRRRRR!!!!! Now, for the record, I’m not sure if it was actually as cold as I think it was. It may be that I have simply acclimated to the desert heat and anything below 70 degrees feels like a blustery winter day. Regardless, to me, it felt cold. For the first time since I left the States, it felt like fall (maybe even winter). Not gonna lie….in the initial moments when I stepped off the plane, I was a little bummed we didn’t choose to go explore somewhere smack dab on the equator.

Of course nothing to warm the soul and nose like a hot cup of coffee. So off we went searching for the perfect joe. What we found instead was neither perfect nor joe (at least not how I define it…think Grande latte from Starbucks). In Istanbul, it seems you have three choices when it comes to coffee: first there is the famous Turkish coffee. This coffee looks like a cross between syrup and motor oil and tastes just about the same. It will, literally, put hair on your chest. Ladies be warned. Your second option is Nescafe. Apparently, no one told the Turks that instant coffee sucks and is in no way pleasing to the taste buds. Lastly, you have Chai tea. I realize tea isn’t exactly coffee but considering the other two choices it is the best and only option. Let’s just say we drank a lot of tea on this trip.

If I learned anything about Istanbul over my Eid holiday, it is that you don’t search for anything…you simply stumble across little treasures. (As a side note, the likelihood of stumbling upon such treasures is increased when intoxicated…mainly because it is easier to stumble and everything you find seems like a “treasure”.) Regardless, we spent our few days in this old city dodging rain drops by wandering in and out of little markets, coffee shops, and stores. We toured the Bosphorous by boat, explored the historical Topaki Palace which houses the most beautiful circumcision room I have ever seen, and admired the beauty of the Blue Mosque. We played hearts in the bars, checkers on the streets after too much wine, and “Ï bet you a million lira” games in the cabs (One million Turkish lira is equivalent to about 75 cents….but it sounds like a whole lot more, doesn’t it?). We laughed our way through a miserable bus ride (imagine….cold, wet, full blatter, and repetitive Arabian elevator music) and high fived each other when we ambushed the bus driver and aborted the mission halfway through. When we couldn’t understand our tour guide on the Bosphourus boat tour we had a dance party instead which may or may not have shocked a few of the older patrons. (Everyone, excluding my compadres and myself was Syrian…thus Arabic, not English, was spoken). When we drove 45 minutes out of town to get a stellar view of the city only to be met by fog and clouds, we had Turkish tea, a Krankle, and yet another laugh.

So did our trip go as planned? No. Was it better than planned? Absolutely. The coffee was strong, the hamburgers were divine, the company was sweet, and most importantly, my students weren’t there!!! It was a dream vacation indeed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mix Bag of Dubai

I have all these random photos that I need to share....so here is just a little taste. Be prepared for an Istanbul movie here shortly!!!

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Posted by edittmar