Monday, October 29, 2012

Incredible Istanbul...

As we endured our crazy day of travel getting to Istanbul, I glanced through Kate's Turkey guide book. It described Istanbul as a perfect mixture of european and asian, old and new, historical and trendy...and the list continued. That description could not have been more accurate. It also had a crazy combination of animals, foods, and interesting people. And I felt like we got a really good taste of all of the varieties that Istanbul had to offer...and I was absolutely smitten with the city!

The first full day, we were fortunate enough (thanks to the McLaughlins!) to have a tour guide, Iden, who worked for National Geographic and was full of interesting knowledge, turkish culture, and some interesting jokes. Iden showed us all around the old town part of Istanbul.
Iden took us around, telling us all about the mosques, showing us the first Dome ever built, taking us under the city to the cistern, and educating us on Turkish history, from the Bible to Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire.

 
Along with the educational side of the tour, He still managed to bring us to authentic turkish restaurants for both lunch and dinner, introduced us to fresh squeezed pomegranate juice and chewy turkish ice cream (both were crazy, hilarious experiences!), and finally took us expereince to the turkish baths (I have to add...they were crazy. He told us it would be an exfoliating massage, it was more like a full body rub down from old turkish women!). 


 
Also, immediately upon arrival and even moreso as time passed, we realized that Istanbul was packed with cats. We would easily pass 15 stray cats in a five minute walk to our hotel, but additionally we saw all sorts of animals (dead and alive!) all over the streets. This spurred Lisa and I to start a mental list of "stuff that would never happen in America" and it was quite long by the end of the trip!


The next day, we opted for a relaxing cruise up the Bosphorous river! It was beautiful looking out over the city from a boat, and we got a two hour break in a small Turkish town where we got lunch and hiked to castle to look out over the Black Sea. The views were breathtakingly beautiful, the hike was breathtaking because I am out of shape. The boat trip was all day, but it allowed us to finally rest our legs and prepare for Kate's birthday celebration that night!
   


We had another brief tour with a nice guy who showed us around the Taksim area, which is the trendier part of Istanbul with a lot of neat places to eat and shop. After that we got a nice dinner and the birthday festivities commenced! We met up with my friend and neighbor from home, Will Farley, who is also teaching in Turkey. We also ran into my good friend Laura's brother, Ellis, who we had never met but managed to recognize when he struck up a conversation. It is SUCH a small world. But, anyways, we had quite the crew together and all had an amazing, hilarious, long night celebrate Kate's birthday!

The last day we moved from our hostel in Old Town to a nice hotel in Taksim for Kate's birthday. We explored that area and shopped a little, then enjoyed a turkish cake (complete with sparklers!) and an amazing dinner at a restaurant that looked out over all of Istanbul. 



It was an amazing trip...Istanbul was an interesting and indescribable city! I also do not think I have ever laughed so much in my life, so needless to say I was sad to say goodbye yesterday. I hope to make it back to Turkey at least one more time this year...and we found this T-shirt that describes our adventure perfectly.

xoxo

5 comments:

  1. i love this and all the pictures are great! xx

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