Travel

Spring Break: Turkey (Day 1 – Istanbul)

The Blue Mosque
Outside the Blue Mosque – Istanbul, Turkey

I wasn’t lying, I told you I’d get around to telling you about my amazing trip to turkey sooner or later (later it turns out). It was a whirlwind 12 days where I absolutely fell in love with the country. Before the trip I went through many highs and low, high because I planned it with my good friends CD and GP, low because CD ending up cutting the beginning of his trip short for an unexpected trip to China and the addition of another friend who complicates my life. But alas it worked out perfectly and we were off for an unexpected adventure.

Istanbul Token
Token for Istanbul Rail System

Because we are champions at staying out late we planned our flight departure for hours after the Mumford concert the day before – good idea of bad, I don’t think I suffered much with just 2.5 hours of sleep the day before. We arrived in Istanbul early in the morning and hopped on the train into the city center. This was quite a long journey. I would have primadonishly preferred a cab, but accepted that journey as AG was able to lead us straight to the Big Apple Hostel with no issues (and not to mention no map!).

Getting into the city was amazing as we hopped of the train and immediately saw a garden full of tulips, just starting to bloom and the immense and wildly different structures of the two main mosques Aya Sophia and The Blue Mosque. We were a bit to worn from the journey to take pictures yet, but just soaked in the scene while we lugged our bags and packs towards our destination.

GP funnily got food poisoning from turkish food eaten in Barcelona the night before our flight and ended up bed ridden for the rest of the night. But this didn’t stop the rest of us, including his dad and girl friend, from having a good first day. We journeyed down the block to Ocean’s 7, a restaurant run by 7 Turkish brothers (some pretty cute ones) just a few blocks from the hostel. It boasted great views of the ocean and a healthy variety of Turkish dishes to choose from. The Iskander Kebab was great, but the delicious white sauce I have come to know, expect and love, was replaced with big white gobs of gelatinous turkish cheese, that would reappear throughout the journey.

Me and SS at Ocean's 7
Me and SS at Ocean’s 7

Lunch was followed by a very Spanish siesta. The hostel was much better than I imagined. The private rooms actually made it more hotel like. We tried to stave off weeks of exhaustion to get ourselves out and about and enjoy our one day is Istanbul before flying to the coast. Our 40 winks had not yet brought back our hunger so we journey into the evening with a stop at the mosques and brought out our tourist sides. It was far to late to visit, but we would be back in Istanbul to end out trip. Just seeing the history through the architecture and design elated us as we weaved through the city. Next stop was the river.

Aya Sophia
Aya Sophia
Caricatures...Love the Irony of the One with the Head Scarf
Caricatures…Love the Irony of the One with the Head Scarf
Beautiful Colorful Fountain Between the Two Mosques
Beautiful Colorful Fountain Between the Two Mosques

We walked along the Sea of Marmara and Bosphorus noting another picturesque mosque along the way. First over the bridge, then below through a shady, dangerous looking underpass that made me very wary after a lifetime of living in New York City.  We hoped to get a good look at the fish market, but it was already starting to close and we just looked like confused tourists. Passing through a row of water view restaurants we got our first taste of aggressive pushiness that comes from Turkish vendors and restauranteurs. Their desire to win over every tourist who passes is overwhelming and often annoying if you’ve already eaten or just want to peruse menus on your own. They often get irritated, irrationally so, if you do not choose them.

We settled for an outdoor meal down one of the backstreets in the heart of the city instead after many antics by the locals trying to get us to dine with them. It was simple and good, and there was a manager balancing glasses on his head, in what I would assume was his drunkenness and desire to impress his guests. We did take pictures, so I am sure we was satisfied.

Theatrics from the manager
Theatrics from the manager

CATS are absolutely everywhere! Weaseling between our feet for a change at a dropped piece of meat and selfish desire to be adored and pampered that most cats posses. Little did we know how much these cats treat the place as their own, that MM’s jacket was ruined from feline urine that was in her seat. Undoubtedly from the cats reign over the place. Despite that, they day ended well and we journey sleepily and tipsily back to our hostel for a good nights sleep only disturbed by the early morning call to prayer sweeping through the city at nearly 6am.

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