Category Archives: Turkey

Turkey in three stories

We are on a train to the airport in Izmir. Dave and I grapple with the crowds since like Amtrak, trains are often oversold. We are standing in the aisles over our packs with our smaller backpacks across our chests.

A guy walks by selling simit, the national snack, which is something of a sesame seed bagel on a diet. He flashes us wide grins as he squeezes past us through a crowded train.

A stop passes by as we lurch with the tracks. As we move between stops we watch villages fade into countryside.

As we approach a stop, an older woman in a headscarf and her traveling companion get up. She smiles at me kindly as she neatly unfolds herself from her seat. She catches my eye as she walks by me en route to the exit she takes my hand. It is cool and soft. She knows I am not Turkish. No self respecting Turkish woman would be carrying her luggage like this. With her other hand she gestures to her now-empty seat and nods me into it, only letting go of my hand once I am in motion towards it. She looks at Dave expectantly to arrange our things.

I say thank you in Turkish to her and she promptly leaves the train.

I think about my grandmother’s hands and how they used to feel just the same.

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I’m walking out the door of our new home for our final six days in Istanbul after flying in from Izmir. Dave isn’t feeling well, so I offer to run out to a nearby store for provisions: drinking water (Istanbul’s water is potable but tastes like a swimming pool full of nickels) , milk for coffee, sugar etc.

I make my way out of our door and down our tiny alley which may, or may not, hold a sweatshop. Our host had told us his apartment was a 15 minute walk to Taksim Square, which was true, but it was a 15 minute walk down very steep hills into a working class neighborhood swirling with dust from nearby carpenters and the wailing of sirens. We never felt unsafe, but compared to our plush digs in liberal, upscale, fun-loving Besikas, we were in a whole new world.

Two little girls appear from behind me and scamper up to me talking at a good clip. Their hands are extended upwards. My first impulse was that they were asking me for money so I spin on my heel. We have not been here but 10 minutes and already I feel the weight of the neighborhood around me. They follow me a few steps and one bravely takes a hold of my elbow. They now understand I am not ignoring them but do not understand. They look at me with eyes like saucers and motion at their ponytails and then point at mine.

My bright fuchsia french braid.

They are maybe seven or eight and I all of a sudden know what this was about. I smile broadly at them and reach around behind my head to show them my hair. I bend down a little so they can see it better. They ooh and ahh and reach out to touch it.

Turks are very tactile people. If a mother was walking with a young child it would not be out of place for a stranger walking past them to ruffle the child’s hair as they walked by. Turks are exceedingly kind to children and keeping children happy seemed to be something of a national pastime.

With my neck craned, I give them a “wait a minute” gesture, and proceed to rip out my hair elastic and undo the braid. They immediately begin to stroke the bent out of shape, dry, oh lord does it need a vat of deep conditioner ends of my hair chatting in the singsong tone of a little girl in disbelief.

After a few minutes of inspecting my hair, rolling it between their fingers, and combing it as if to see if it was in fact connected to my head, I motion that I needed to go. They consider me very seriously as I smile and point up the hill to the shops. The bolder one reaches her arms up like she wants me to pick her up. I bend down and she puts her hands on my shoulders and with grave dignity sends me off with two kisses, one on each cheek. Her friend does the same and they skipped away babbling in Turkish about, I can only assume, the weird foreigner with hair like they’d never seen who clearly needed a hug.

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We are at our favorite kebab place for the very last time. When we first arrived in Istanbul, we happened upon this shop as we walked around, dazed by the time difference and desperately seeking non-Asian food. Now we are so full of meat, cheese, bread, and more cheese and more meat a salad sounds more fitting but we ignore our guilt and perhaps our waistlines.

We had first gotten into a line outside this shop because everyone else was. We fumbled through ordering, pointing, and generally being in the way. We were not doing what you should do. Standing closer in. Ordering quickly. Having nearly exact change. We were in a fog. We were new.

Sailing up to the front of the line, I greet the same friendly proprietor in Turkish. I ask for two sandwiches on pita bread with all the trimmings, please.

A gleam in his eye, he recognizes us from the other two times we have been there. I recognize this look. I’ve seen it before from a Thai soup shop owner. He sees me see it. He smiles heartily at us and says thank you. We were the foreigners drooling at bread who had held up the line. Who had forgotten in the moment of jet-lag induced stupidity how to say thank you in a country we’ve been to before.

We shuffle up to the register. I repeat our order and then say “twelve lira” in Turkish. He nods and hands us our sandwiches with a hint of pride. Perhaps he recognized us too? There are only so many English-speaking, pink-haired ladies in Istanbul with their bearded, bespectacled menfolk who are so proud of their Tourist Turkish.

Dave and I are so American about it, which is what gives us away. We pronounce things as perfectly as we can with an effusiveness that only we Americans can possess. We may be saying “twelve lira” but it’s really a loaded phrase. We say “twelve lira” but we mean so many things. We are just so thrilled to be somewhere where we can try and fit in. We pretend we are fitting in just fine. That people think we might even live here!

But of course they don’t think we live here. We can’t say more than 20 words of Turkish, let alone a full sentence.

But we want to, and they can tell, and that’s all that matters.

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This kindness gives us a renewed energy about traveling.

Kindness comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s a wordless interaction. Sometimes it’s a compliment. Sometimes it’s politely overlooking how you are embarrassing yourself. Sometimes it’s just accepting it.

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Izmir — First impressions are important

First impressions of a place are important, and once you’ve mentally made a decision about a place it’s hard to allow yourself to be change your mind. So it was with Izmir, our least favorite place in Turkey. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and lies right on the coast but most tourists bypass it. Cruise ships often dock here but only so people can take coach group tours of Ephesus a few hours south. We had to come here for one night in order to fly back to Istanbul, so it was more of a convenient stop over but I was still excited for it. We love every place in Turkey! It’s a huge city without any tourists! Surely this must be an interesting and great place!

We took the train from Selcuk to Izmir and walked through the city to reach our hotel which was perfectly nice except for the fact that it was on a backstreet, a mile away from anything (LITERALLY anything — no stores, no restaurants NOTHING). Oh, sorry, I take that back, there was the urgent care hospital right across the street and the highway down the block. The streets at night were deserted except for the sort of savory and upstanding individuals that hang around outside emergency room entrances at 11 pm. THANKS IZMIR.

So this is how Izmir greeted us. The city is grittier than cosmopolitan Istanbul. It’s also not ideal for tourists as there isn’t really any sites of interest or note (ahhhh….perhaps THIS IS WHY TOURISTS DON’T COME HERE, DUMDUM?). We had heard that there was a nice boulevard that ran along the coast that had cafes and shops and bars, so we decided to check that out.

There was a turk bro driving a RC toy car all along this thing and it was pretty much the only awesome thing we saw in Izmir

There was a Turk bro driving an RC toy car all along the boulevard and that is pretty much the only awesome thing in Izmir

We walked and walked and walked through Izmir’s boring concrete wasteland before arriving at the coastal street. We were tired so we sat in a park on the water which, admittedly, was lovely but it was too late. The dye was cast. Izmir sucked and there was no changing that for us.

We walked all along the coast line. All of a sudden we saw large group of young soccer supporters marching through the streets headed for the ferry. I’m a huge soccer fan, so I was curious which team they were supporting (Karşıyaka SK, if you’re curious — their crest says “KSK!!!”) so we stopped to watch them. Then out of nowhere, a HUGE explosion. A few people screamed and some people began running. There was a second of confusion and then we realized that the supporters had thrown a tiny stick of dynamite. They were to repeat this several times. They also threw some bottles. No biggie. Eventually a few police arrived and…watched them, I guess?

Moto cops in Turkey always ride in twosies. I wonder if they fight about who gets to drive?

Moto cops in Turkey always ride in twosies. I wonder if they fight about who gets to drive?

I have no idea what happened, but en masse the supporters began RUNNING down the street. Some cops eventually corralled them and sent them back to the ferry dock where they’d been before. Eventually, after a few more smashed bottles, chants, and fireworks, the ferry came and the supporters got on it, screaming (I’m assuming) obscenities at the cops.

They got on the roof of the boat and replaced the boat's flag with their soccer club's flag which, admittedly, is pretty badass

They got on the roof of the boat and replaced the boat’s flag with their soccer club’s flag which, admittedly, is pretty badass

We wandered around a bit more and stopped for some Efes down a random side street which, I have to admit, was very cool. It was a tiny little alley lined with underground bars and tables outside full of tattooed hipsters drinking beer and playing some intense backgammon. For an hour, Izmir didn’t suck. But then it did again.

We decided to take a taxi back to our hotel since it was in a dodgy wasteland in the middle of nowhere. The taxi driver says “10 lira” I say “Hayer. Meter.” He says “No. 10 lira.” I mean,  it’s $5. With the meter it probably would have been, like, 7 lira. I was just too tired to haggle with the guy so I agreed. This was the ONLY time in Turkey where we had a taxi driver rip us off. The guy couldn’t even find the place, so we just told him to let us out 3 blocks away and we walked the rest of the way. THANKS IZMIR.

The next morning we went to pay our bill only to find the credit card machine was broken. This was after trying FOUR different cards, including my emergency card which was buried at the bottom of my bag in my compression sack, meaning I had to unpack my ENTIRE bag to get to it. We had to catch a train to the airport, and time was ticking away. I was sent off to find the ONLY ATM within what must be a 5 mile radius. The guy at the hotel tells me it’s just “down this way. Then right.” After asking 5 different people for directions I finally find it. Of course, there’s a guy using it. I don’t know exactly what Turks do at ATMs but they must enjoy them because I’ve never seen a Turk use an ATM for less than 15 minutes at a time. So I wait and wait and wait. He finally finishes and I go to put my card in the ATM. It thinks, and thinks, and thinks before spitting the card back at me and telling me the machine is out of order. I’m pretty panicked at this point. We have to catch this train to get our flight but we have no way of paying for the hotel. I sprint back to the hotel, really just not sure what we’re going to do. I tell the hotel clerk that the ATM is broken. He says “Oh….” and then he pulls out a DIFFERENT credit card reader from behind the desk, swipes our card and presto it works just fine. PERHAPS YOU COULD HAVE TRIED THAT  OTHER MACHINE BEFORE I RAN 10 BLOCKS AWAY? THANKS, IZMIR.

At this point we have about 15 minutes to get to the train station which is about a mile away. We sprint 3 blocks to the main street and flag down a cab. We get in and go a few blocks and then we sit in traffic. Inch forward….then stop. Eventually we just threw money at the driver and got out and made a mad dash for the station (mind you, this is each with 25 lbs of bags and gear). We make it to the train and get in JUST as the doors close. We hadn’t purchased tickets (I’m not even sure you CAN buy tickets on the train) but we figured we’d just figure it out. We are soaked in sweat, disheveled and panting when the conductor comes over to collect our tickets. We tell him we dont’ have any. He asks where we’re going and we tell him we’re going to the airport. He thinks for a second, looks at our sorry state, and just says “Tamam” (meaning, “OK”) and walks away without asking us for any money. For that, no sarcasm this time, thanks Izmir.

Ephesus, Selçuk and Sirinçe: Hooray for old stuff!

After being bored in Bursa we took our bus ride to Selcuk to explore the ancient ruins of Ephesus. Ephesus had been on my list for ages and I was pumped to see some old crap. I had not been pumped to see some old crap since we were in Bagan maybe, so old crap was great. BRING IT ON.

We were on the bus for about 7 hours en route to Selçuk (Cell-Chook) . OH RIGHT – – and the bus broke down on the side of the highway about 45 minutes from our end destination. We boarded a 12:30pm bus. We arrived in Selçuk at 8:30pm. UNFAIR.

We had a quick, delightful dinner at a local family-run place. . We booked our day tour for the next day, and we fell asleep.

We spent the next day exploring one of the wonders of the ancient world, as well as the home where both the Vatican and the Muslim faith think Mary (mother of Jesus) spent her final years.

I couldn't take pix inside

I couldn’t take pix inside

Mary stuff! yeah!

Mary stuff! yeah!

I was like "I have not seen any of your kind in a long while". Nuns rock.

I was like “I have not seen any of your kind in a long while”. Nuns rock.

We stopped there first and I was immediately sad that my parents weren’t with me. Ok, well I wish my mom was there because it would have been really cool for her. Dad would have been rad to have in Japan to look at the awesome gardens. We all have our things with our parents.  Aside from Mary’s house, you can also leave your wishes for the future which we also saw in Japan which was a really sweet and fun sentiment.

Malaysia?

Malaysia?

Then, we were of to the ancient city of Ephesus. Our tour group was hilarious: a couple from Singapore, a family of four from India, a family of five which were Hungarian/Australian, and us. The Hungarian/Australian couple with three kids were our favorites: they were three years older than us with a nine-year-old. That took a while to sink in. LIFE CHOICES, I SUPPOSE. Anyway, they were awesome parents. Here is a sample exchange at the old Roman brothel (i.e. a House of Love in Ancient Roman times):

Mom: Guys you remember what sex is from when we talked about that right?

Kids: (groaning) UHHH HUHHH

Mom: So here, in the old days, you could pay a lady to have sex with her. This isn’t a good idea now though. Just be a good guy and buy her flowers sometimes and you’ll be able to persuade her to do the same things. Paying a woman for sex does not lead to good relationships.

Dave and Kat: DYING. SLOWLY. AAIIIIIIIII. Parenting!?!?!? LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL

We had a great time on this tour.

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Then we went to see the ancient Temple of Artemis (this one pillar is all that’s left and it’s a reconstruction).

this is all that's left.

this is all that’s left.

We also had a great time at dinner that night.

FUN!!!!

FUN!!!!

Our guide recommended a friend’s restaurant (which was delicious) but more importantly — a server thought Dave looked like a Turkish movie star and told him so– then showed us a youtube video to prove to me how well I had chosen.

I’ll let you be the judge but you might know how I lean:

Dave Klein

Dave Klein

Cemal Hunal (my new favorite Turkish beefcake… RIGHT? SO CUTE!)

Turkish beefcake

After a day of hardcore touristing, this diner and the DaveKlein lookalike story was everything we needed.

The next day we slept in and explored the local market and the nearby village of Sirinçe (Sir-in-Jay). The name means “ugly” to belie the village’s charm.

SAM_1617 Sirince

They are famous for their fruit wines which we bought as gifts for friends and gifts for ourselves. YEAH.

Also, I got a flower crown.

I FEEL PRETTY

I FEEL PRETTY

ANY woman of any age is instantly pleased by a flower crown. Probably a wide-variety of people I know are pleased by a flower crown which is how I know I have chosen the right tribe. It was 1 Lira (so like, sixty US cents)  and that is all you need to spend to make a woman happy (give or take the exchange rate). I WAS SOOOOO HAPPYYYYY!!!

for dudes

for some, less of a good time.

Then we took naps and went back to the delicious restaurant where the said Dave looked like the movie star. How could we not? They treated him like a local celebrity (otherwise known as Turkish hospitality).

Embarassing ourselves at a Sheraton: A Bursa Story

The morning we left Istanbul, we were chatting with our Air BnB host’s girlfriend. We had a hilarious conversation with her about our onward travel plans to Bursa.

Air BnB GF: Where are you going?

Dave and Kat:Bursa

Air BnB GF: (thinking for a minute)…. AAHHHHHH! Joo mean BOOOOURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRsa

Thus begins our comedy of errors in pronunciation, geography and expectation. We took the ferry to Bursa.  It was 2 hours and felt like you were on an airplane on the water. I slept for nearly the entire thing because it was flying without the emotional stress of takeoff and landing. Flying makes my palms sweat. Taking the ferry lulled me to sleep.

We then hopped on a bus to the metro and promptly got VERY lost. Not just lost, ask-for-directions lost. Like 14 kilometers in the wrong direction needed a taxi, lost. In summary: Google maps lied. BIG TIME. Also, I might add, we did a VERY good job at not being furious with each other. We spent the 15 turkish lira and had a chuckle. #Travelwinning

We stayed at a brand new Sheraton on points. By brand new, I mean we were probably the first American guests there since it had been open for six weeks. We were greeted like royalty as SPG Gold members by a man in a morning coat who looked twice at our backpacks. We were upgraded to a corner suite.

Dave bristles with glee every time we walk into a Starwood property looking rough, with a small amount of luggage, and then promptly decline housekeeping to earn more points and wash our undies in the bathtub.  Because we wash our unmentionables in an upgraded suite with a note from the manager which is so hilarious.

The hotel was so empty we had a whole floor to ourselves. We enjoyed the hotel immensely because Bursa was … boring? But there was an awesome shower. A comfy bed. Fast, free wifi. Nearby supermarket for hotel room picnic dinners. We spent half a day doing nothing and it was awesome.

#classy
#classy — I used to be so tan…

Bursa is Turkey’s third largest city. We were expecting it to be a THING. WITH STUFF.

uh, the main center square
uh, the main center square

It was not a thing. There were few things to do.

We walked around and saw some mosques.

where some jerk tried to get us to come to his pottery shop. #NO
Green Mosque — unique for having a pool in the center.

We ate an Iskander kebab where it was rumored to be created. This is a fancy kebab you can sample all over turkey and is glorious, rich and not-your-average-kebab. This is a plate of cubed bread with thinly sliced, roasted kebab meat over spicy peppers, tomatoes and yogurt. THEN, they drizzle brown butter over it. It was glorious.

mmmm brown butter
mmmm brown butter

We did a lot of walking. We walked through a nice park? We took a nice tram?

But mostly, we embarrassed the crap out of ourselves by asking for a variety of things of the hotel:

1.) Club access so we could eat free breakfast because we were BROKE! TEE HEE! Turks take breakfast VERY seriously and they apologized for the continental-type breakfast available in the club lounge. It was MORE than enough and awesome. We were the only people in the club each day. Bonus tip: make 3 cappuccinos in a drip coffee mug.

2.) Help buying bus tickets. Because of various hilarious technical difficulties / websites being broken / not speaking Turkish / hearing that the Bursa bus station was a total nightmare we insisted on booking tickets in advance. This took an hour or so and they were SO CONFUSED. Not a private car.they looked into that for us but it was 500 euros. OOPS!

3.) Where the subway was. It was a 10 minute walk from our hotel. They insisted it was too far and we should take a taxi into town.  Once we realized how close it was we just had to laugh.

4.) How to get to the bus station. They by this point figured out we didn’t want a taxi. A kind, kind woman who worked at the hotel figured us out and told us to take the bus. Yet again Dave and I found ourselves standing on the side of a highway, flagging down buses to ask if it stopped by the station. Here is where Turks are awesome. We realized it was certain buses who do. An old man tried to trace numbers on his hand through a window. A woman called out “the yellow ones” to us from a green bus. Later did we realize any yellow bus that started with 9.

By the way, this was the nightmare of a bus station we had read horror stories about.

a "nightmare"

a “nightmare”

Yeah– it’s empty. And we could have bought bus tickets before walking on the bus. Oh well!

Also — we could visit a city in Turkey named “Batman”. TRUTH!

!!!!

!!!!

All in all, Bursa was not quite worth a trip but shout outs to the Sheraton staff for treating us with dignity when we didn’t really deserve it.

Istanbul – Persistence of Memory

Kat and I first visited Istanbul 2 years ago, almost by accident. We were thinking about going on a cheap vacation an weren’t quite sure where to go. Then we saw a flight sale that we couldn’t turn down so we just thought “why not?” We’d never even thought of going to Turkey before and quickly discovered that Istanbul is, seriously you guys, THE TOPS. We had such a blast there that we decided on our current trip we’d have to return. Going back to a place you love after a long absence can be a tricky thing. Have things changed? Have I changed? Will I be able to recapture that beautiful experience or was it just a fleeting moment in time that cannot be recreated?

Kat was excited to celebrate her 31st birthday in one of our favorite cities!

Kat was excited to celebrate her 31st birthday in one of our favorite cities! Next to her is a bag of crabapples that, apparently, some Turkish people like to eat. Those Turkish people are dumdums because they taste exactly as disgusting as you’d think crabapples taste.

There have been several places on this trip where we’re going somewhere for the second time (Singapore, Bangkok, Saigon), but none of them had the grip on us that Istanbul does. The people are wonderfully friendly, the food is fantastic, traveling around the country is remarkably easy an Istanbul is one of the most chic, liveliest cities in the world. Istanbul is also, to me, the most interesting place we’ve been socioeconomically. The way Turkey and Istanbul struggle with their identity, particularly the role of Islam and religion in daily life and government, is fascinating to me. Drinking an Efes beer at a trendy bar with Istanbul hipsters while the call to prayer echoes across the city from hundreds of minarets may be old hat to Turks, but to me it’s always an amazing experience that causes me to pause and think “This place is SO DAMN INTERESTING.”

"Kat, listen to the call to prayer? Isn't it beautiful?" "Yeah, it's great. HEY, DID YOU KNOW I TURN 31 TODAY?!"

“Kat, listen to the call to prayer? Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Yeah, it’s great. HEY, DID YOU KNOW I TURN 31 TODAY?!”

I was amazed to return to Istanbul after 2 years and find that NOTHING had changed. Countless times, I found myself thinking “Oh, RIGHT. I REMEMBER that restaurant/shop/thing there!” I was able to get all of my favorite foods that I’d been craving:

Cay. Turkey is fueled by these little tulip glasses of tea. I usually had about 4 per day. Turkish coffee, surprisingly, isn't consumed as much -- usually only after dinner with a sweet thing.

Cay. Turkey is fueled by these little tulip glasses of tea. I usually had about 4 per day. Turkish coffee, surprisingly, isn’t consumed as much — usually only after dinner with a sweet thing.

Balik Ekmek -- literally "fish bread." Just a grilled fish sandwich. Touristy to eat at the restaurants right under the Galata Bridge but super fun.

Balik Ekmek — literally “fish bread.” Just a grilled fish sandwich. Touristy to eat at the restaurants right under the Galata Bridge but super fun.

Meze plate. So much awesomeness on this, I can't even begin. The winner here is the green goop in the center which is a pistachio and whipped cheese concoction that I'm pretty sure Kat would leave me for were it a sentient being.

Meze plate. So much awesomeness on this, I can’t even begin. The winner here is the green goop in the center which is a pistachio and whipped cheese concoction that I’m pretty sure Kat would leave me for were it a sentient being.

Turkish breakfast. Turks do brekkie right. That stuff in the middle there is kaymak with honey -- sort of like clotted cream. It goes straight to your arteries, but what a way to die.

Turkish breakfast. Turks do brekkie right. That stuff in the middle there is kaymak with honey — sort of like clotted cream. It goes straight to your arteries, but what a way to die.

Midye. Mussels stuffed with rice and spices. They sell these things EVERYWHERE on the street and, normally, I'd be a bit concerned eating shellfish of unknown provenance made by a unshaven Turk but they're delicious and I haven't gotten sick yet.

Midye. Mussels stuffed with rice and spices. They sell these things EVERYWHERE on the street and, normally, I’d be a bit concerned eating shellfish of unknown provenance made by a unshaven Turk but they’re delicious and I haven’t gotten sick yet.

No Turkish meal is complete with raki, an anise-based liquor similar to ouzo. It's clear in the bottle but becomes milky white when diluted with water. Science! This is not a flavor Kat or I typically enjoy, but somehow with mezes it just goes really well.

No Turkish meal is complete with raki, an anise-based liquor similar to ouzo. It’s clear in the bottle but becomes milky white when diluted with water. Science! This is not a flavor Kat or I typically enjoy, but somehow with mezes it just goes really well.

The great thing about having already been to Istanbul before is that Kat and I had already done all the tourist “must-do” things, like all the sites in the Old City. Don’t get me wrong, those sites are amazing, but we were more interested in getting to know Istanbul more intimately and seeing places and neighborhoods we missed the first time around.

We stayed in Besiktas, which is a well-to-do neighborhood full of fun bars and restaurants. It’s a great place because not many tourists make it up there. Coming from Asia, we had a big culture shock in dealing with people. In Asia, you look different so you are instantly categorized as “foreign” and people know right away that you won’t speak the language. In Turkey — particularly in non-tourist areas — everyone thought, at first, that we were Turkish. So there was an initial awkwardness every time we’d walk into a store or restaurant and the person would expect us to speak Turkish. When we weren’t able to speak Turkish, they then assumed we were Spanish or, to a lesser extent, French. One guy at a restaurant began speaking to me in Spanish, I answered back in Spanish “I’m American!” He laughed and laughed and then continued to speak to me in Spanish. What can you do?

We had an AMAZING experience attending a Besiktas soccer match. The stadium is quite old but amazingly beautiful. There’s a big mosque right next to it and it’s right on the Bosphorus, making it the only stadium in the world where you can see another continent from the stands. I’m a huge soccer fan and love attending matches in foreign countries. Let me tell you, the Turks are AMAZING fans. I’ve been to matches in America, the Netherlands and England and they’ve got NOTHING on what I saw in Istanbul. These guys are serious.

It's no RFK Stadium, but their mascot IS an Eagle, so it's kind of like being back home at a DC United match.

It’s no RFK Stadium, but their mascot IS an Eagle, so it’s kind of like being back home at a DC United match.

Let’s not forget another reason that this city is awesome: Istanbul has not one, but TWO funiculars, and we rode them both. What’s great about these funiculars is that not only are they funiculars, but they’re actually USEFUL for getting you places.

Kat on the Tunel funicular. Different continent, same crazed look of excitement

Kat on the Tunel funicular. Different continent, same crazed look of excitement

I find myself frustrated writing this blog entry. I love Istanbul so much and I feel like no words I can write will do it justice or really give you an accurate idea of why this city is so amazing. Instead, I’ll just leave you with some shots of the city and hope that they give you an incentive to go see for yourself how Istanbul is truly one of the world’s great cities.

 

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