Wheee! Last night I got back from Turkey and it was incredible, beautiful, cool.
I have a working list of my top ten places I want to visit, which I periodically revise and check off once I've made it to one of the destinations. Brittaney and I conceived of this list the summer before our semester in London when I was just but a travel infant. Anyway, Istanbul has been on that list since day one and I am happy to say it did not disappoint.
What did I do? Okay, so I got there on Friday after a four hour flight and was pleased to find that the glass bottles of beer I was touting had remained intact and in their original state.
While sitting in the Madrid airport I realized I had a couple of key issues that I'd overlooked, for example: 1.) What exactly do I want to see in Istanbul?, and 2.) What is the address of my Couch Surfing host's apartment?, also 3.) What do I do if my cell phone continues not to allow me to communicate with a Turkish phone as it is currently doing? I had to walk the entire length of the airport before I found the travel book I wanted (holla at Nicole, Top 10 Istanbul), and I ended up easily finding Sinan in the airport when I arrived, so all was well.
After stopping by the apartment Sinan and I spent Friday evening in an area called Taksim (I think). We started out at this one rooftop lounge where we had some amazing views of the old city skyline from across the water, and later wandered around for live music and more drinks. I really liked Taksim, it was full of people and noises and activity and proudly remained decorated with Christmas lights even though it was June. For many of the bars that we visited we had to climb something like five flights of rundown stairs or ride a rickety old elevator to the top, but then when we got there it was this perfect little surprise of great views, music, and hootch.
Saturday was sight-seeing day. Grand Bazaar, the Blu Mosque, Hagia Sophia. I've been in love with the Hagia Sophia since first semester freshmen Art History 111 and it was BEAUTIFUL to finally see it in person. You don't need me to describe it to you, google image search and your tongue will wag.
I also saw this boy to the left and learned that boys, before they are circumcised, are dressed up like little princes and paraded around to important sites in the city. Last ever photo opportunities before the chopping block. :-/
And then what happened. Some Turkish dinner bread and cheese thing.
Some Turkish dessert cheese and pistachio thing. I concluded that I really like Turkish food then it was back to Taksim for more drinks and then a visit to some club where I danced, drank several shots of something that was glow-in-the-dark blue, and sweated profusely in the Istanbul heat. It was magical.
Sunday I went to the Asia side via the ferry across the Bosphorus during which time I closed my eyes and tried not to be seasick. Walked around, took a couple of photos of mangy dogs, and then..
Wait a moment.
I need to build up the tension.
I didn't see it coming.
I had heard rumors, but I hadn't understood the words.
And then, my whole life changed around when I drank that Turkish coffee. I am not exaggerating at all when I say it was evident the gods had descended upon my tiny cup of drinkable Eden and birthed a new and more perfect world. It was peace in a baby ceramic bowl. It was liquid amor. It was happiness balanced prettily on a delicate little saucer. A reading of the leftover coffee grounds at the bottom of my cup intimated the arrival of an evil man in my life, which I'm fairly certain refers to the pilot who whisked me away from my coffee nirvana.
Yesterday was my last day. I learned how to play backgammon. I had another cup of joy. And I came home sadly to my pitiful container of Día brand instant.
Turkey, I will be back for more.