Monday, July 12, 2010

Istanbul: Day 1 and Day 2

I've decided to put our first and second days in Istanbul together because of several reasons:
  1. I have no pictures of our first day in Turkey.
  2. I don't have a very long synopsis of our first day in Turkey.
  3. I want to, and this is my blog. 
I feel that this are all sufficient reasons to break the pattern in which I was previously chronicling this trip.
Don't you?

Anyway, back to our trip.

... Istanbul: Day 1...

On this day Blake and I packed up our hotel room in London, and headed back to Heathrow (the airport) to catch our flight for the next leg of the trip.
The following hours weren't very exciting. 
I'll sum it up for you...
We ate breakfast once we passed security. (I had hot chocolate.)
We boarded.
We sat at the gate on the plane for two hours.
The crew decided the plane was broken.
We got off the plane.
We boarded a different plane.
We sat at the gate on the plane for two hours.
We took off.
Blake told me eighteen times, "I hate British Airways."
We arrived in Turkey.

Wasn't that exciting?

When we finally made it through customs, picked up our bags, and found the only two Americans besides ourselves (Kristin and Brandon!), we were starving and ready to get out of the airport/ off of the plane. 

The remainder of the evening was spent clinging to the seat of a taxi driven by a crazed typical Turkish driver, admiring Kristin and Brandon's amazing apartment (and newly acquired Turkish rug = Gorgeous!), and enjoying what Blake claimed to be the best meal ever.
We also experienced our first taste of the Turkish beverage "raki".
Following dinner, we all returned back to the apartment ready for bed, but with all the excitement of seeing each other, we didn't get to bed until sometime past 2:00AM.
... Istanbul: Day 2...

I'm not gonna lie. 
Waking up the following morning was hard.
In a few days, we were still trying to wrap our heads around an eight (count 'em EIGHT) hour time change, and we hadn't exactly been good about getting a good night's rest before beginning our first full day in a new city, let alone a new country. 

Lucky for us, Kristin was kind enough to start us off with a lovely day, which included a leisurely breakfast, a cool, breezy ferry ride, and a calming stroll up a "little hill."
(Keep in mind that those were Kristin's terms: "Little Hill")

We began our day with lots of Turkish tea and a traditional Turkish breakfast at a sweet, little restaurant near the apartment. 
This is where Blake proceeded to smear Nutella all over everything on his plate, including cucumber and a boiled egg.
"Why have I never heard of this gift from God?"

After breakfast, we hopped into another crazed taxi, and headed towards the Bosphorus to catch our ferry.
At this point into the trip, Blake and I were already counting our blessings for Kristin's impressive ability to act not only as our guide but as our translator.
(Blake and I would still be at the airport scratching our heads, saying, "What's a visa?")

After we boarded the ferry, Blake, Kristin, and I sat back, enjoying the view we floated past.

[We traveled under Bosphorus Bridge #1]

[Gorgeous views of the city]

[Bosphorus Bridge #2]

[Rumeli Hisari; 
We'll visit here later on in our visit to Istanbul]

[Jellyfish filled the Bosphorus]

[Such a Mediterranean feeling]

[Introducing "The Little Hill";
And, yes, it was as steep as it looks in this picture]

One word: Gulp

[The climb was quite a feat;
The view was worth every step]

[The Black Sea;
Seen from the Asian side of Istanbul]

[Ancient Roman ruins;
The oldest in Istanbul]

We ate our picnic lunch while sitting at a small restaurant that clung to the side of the cliffs of the "Little Hill". 
Kristin had packed crackers, peanut butter, cookies, and other treats.
We added grilled mussels and a fresh salad to the mix.
What a perfect meal, accompanied with a perfect view and perfect camaraderie.

[What a lifestyle for those who live here]

[Goodbye, "Little Hill"]

After boarding the ferry to head back to our starting location, we proceeded to almost run over a couple of kids who, apparently, thought it was a wise choice to go swimming directly behind the gigantic machine.
They made it to their boat just in time to avoid becoming food for the jellyfish.
(If jellyfish would even eat children...?)
Upon our arrival at the port, we jumped back into a crazed taxi, driving to Chora Church.

[Chora Church has been credited for housing the first known images of Mary and Jesus;
All other images of the Holy Family are thought to be based upon what is found in this church)

[Like nothing that I will ever witness again]

[Another knocker]

[This is what I consider the best picture I took the entire trip;
It must be the lighting]

After exploring/standing frozen with an unexplainable awe in Chora Church, we wandered several blocks to the Walls of Constantine, which surround much of Istanbul and were built during the time of Constantinople. 
There are a tiny tense moment where Blake considered pushing a man off the top of wall because he was so persistent in waxing Kristin's clothe shoes.
He eventually went away.
I would hate to be married to a murderer.

[The stairs to the tops of the Wall of Constantine]

[The wall and the views were tremendous]

After returning by bus to Taksim (an area that seemed to be the center of our travels), we met up with Brandon for dinner.
(The poor guy had to work for the first couple of days that we were visiting.)
We dined at another Turkish restaurant, Otantik, which was what Blake claimed the best meal ever before heading back to the apartment.

Back at the apartment, we popped in a Turkish movie, "The Mild West" (as it is translated), which makes fun of the American West.
Playing a game with an American beverage, vodka, we took a sip of our drink every time the following occurred:
  1. The terms "outlaw", "cowboy", or "bandit" were mentioned
  2. A gun was fired 
  3. A false historical reference was made
By the end of the movie we were...
... well ...
... feeling sorry for Brandon, who was heading to work again in the morning.

What a day!

To Be Continued...

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