travel journal (Istanbul :: day 3)

Before I get into today’s adventures. I wanted to share a few things I forgot about yesterday.

First, we met the “queen of Cappodocia” named by the guy whose hotel and cafe and weird attic room we visited. She’s an American who has lived in Turkey the past 17 years. And she really did act like a queen, very pretentious and full of herself. We think she’s just super rich and basically owns half of the area of Cappodocia. She was intense. And slightly weird.

Also, we learned 2 things about animals in Turkey from a guy that worked in one of the shops we visited. Pigeons are ghosts and dogs are half dead. You’ll just have to ask me if you want to know more back story…

And now onto the excitement of today.

We had a wonderful breakfast in the hotel again and afterward decided to walk to the water. Istanbul is basically surrounded by water and we found our way to one of the coasts. It was gorgeous. Fishing boats were scattered everywhere as half of the city was their backdrop. So, I don’t know if you all are aware but Istanbul is the border line of Europe and Asia. The Bosphorous River runs right down the center of the city so half of the city is in Europe and half is in Asia. Also, it explains why they accept both Euros and Turkish Lira as currency, and some places accept US dollars. It’s just crazy over here.

I can’t really seem to nail down this city. It’s this weird yet lovely combination of so many places that I’ve been. At times I’ve been reminded of Spain, France, Ireland, Guatemala, and Rhode Island. I can’t pin it down and I think that is what makes it so mysterious and lovely all at the same time.

So after we were wooed by the water, we went to Hagia Sophia. Yes, it was insane. I don’t really even think I can accurately describe it, especial without pictures. It’s just so huge and beautiful and old and there’s so much history, obviously. I mean it was first built in the 400s. We are talking over 1500 years old. Complete insanity. We spent a good 2 hours or so just wandering around this mosque.

After we ripped ourselves away from Hagia, we were in a wild goose chase to find good coffee that was recommended to us. We thought it was near the Grand Bazaar, which we were wanting to see anyways, so once we got there and asked where this place was, we found that it was actually by the other market, the Spice Bazaar. So we trekked over there and may have gotten slightly lost (it’s fiiiiine). On the way we got freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, which is another thing that is really popular here. There are just little street carts dotted everywhere. It was really wonderful and only 2 lira ($1.13). So anyways as we are making our way to the Spice Bazaar, the streets are getting more and more crowded, but with all Turkish people. We were out of the super touristy area thankfully. But this was sensory overload. We were crammed into tiny streets with Turks just shoving through their daily lives. Both Heidi and I semi freaked out. Like we were both super hungry with no coffee in us yet (and if you know anything about me, you know that I need only 2 things to be content: food and coffee. And I had neither of those… Bad bad situation). We found the coffee shop which actually just turned out to be a shop that sold ground coffee (gah!). By this time, we just had to get out of the crowd and stress. We wove our way back out to more space and found finally found a restaurant that was reasonable. We tried our first ‘pide’ which is the Turkish form or pizza and it was really amazing. We have not been disappointed at all by the food here. After lunch we finally got coffee and all was well in the world.

Now if I haven’t mentioned, Turkish men are especially forward, mostly just the shop and restaurant people yell at you to come to their shop/restaurant. Like constantly. All of the time. It never stops. It’s so frustrating because they never give up either. They just are constantly trying to get something from us. And yes, we are Americans but seriously, it’s ridiculous. Remember how yesterday I said it was great traveling with just girls? Well if I ever come back here, I will have a guy with me so I don’t get bothered so much. It’s not like we ever felt in danger or super uncomfortable or anything. It’s just supe a login because it is nonstop. I finally broke and got real mad at one guy at a restaurant and told him to just please stop yelling at us, we are just trying to walk along and constantly get haggled by everyone so please just stop. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

So after all of that craziness, we went back to the Grand Bazaar to actually see and experience it. It’s quite the fabulous market. And it’s huge. So, in true Turkish fashion, we got lured into a small shop and got offered apple tea. In Turkey, it’s always (free) tea before business. After trying to convince us to buy his handcrafted items and saying things like “no money, no honey”, we walked away with 2 free little keychain things and a oil lamp that Heidi talked him down from 60 lira to 45 lira. So all in all pretty much worth the ridiculousness.

Well, after this, we were wore out from everything. So Heidi went to go debrief the day’s events and I headed over to the Blue Mosque, one that is in use today. Before you go in, the women have to put on a head scarf and all have to remove their shoes. It was a really neat experience. I just kinda sat for a bit and marveled at the beauty. Islam is a very interesting religion and something that I still don’t fully understand, but it’s neat to experience things like that. Then, I met Heidi for dinner and a pretty authentic classic Turkish restaurant. We had lamb kebobs, lentil soup, and fresh crusty bread. Again, the food didn’t disappoint. At all.

Of course, we ended our night with coffee and baklava (I could get used to that) and chatted with some ladies from America that we sitting near us. They were slightly full of themselves, but funny and mostly nice. They explained the slight horror of a traditional Turksh bath (a once in a lifetime experience that we probably won’t experience). But basically thought our generation are all lazy and not hard workers and don’t want to try at life. I can see where they are coming from, but I hope that I changed their minds about some of my generation.

We realized then we had to catch our bus to Cappodocia very soon. We took an overnight bus, which was quite the experience. Lets just say that. Absolutely no sleep. Crazy men who wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom at one of the stops. Babies crying. More men yelling when we got off the main station in Cappodocia. And being scared we got on the completely wrong bus (we didn’t). We are about to go on a tour of Cappodocia. It is such a beautiful place. Absolutely magical. More on that later πŸ™‚

Photos: both twitter and Instagram @jae_mae


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s