Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Istanbul Musings...

I’m safe in TURKEY!!!  Being on a plane was culture shock in itself…the people were friendly without being over friendly, I got my own pillow and fleece blanket and their was food that didn’t include rice and beans.  CRAZY!  

I got into the airport at like 9 because our flight was late.  Cetin, the Jones’ driver picked me up complete with a lunchbox filled with food (sandwich, fruit, brownies…delish).  I walked into the house 20 minutes later being greeted by a poster that read "Welcome to Turkey!" in the front hall and then my room was not only made up, but STOCKED with all these goodies. I had a new set of PJ's, fresh towels with a Toblerone, chilled water in a pitcher with a bowl of fruit next to the bed and extra water bottles by the side (It's like a high class hotel...) and a little dish with M&m's inside. And it gets better. Behind the bed were 3 buckets STUFFED with stuff for me to use/take home. This means like big bottles of shampoo, lotion, baby oil, moisturizer, exfoliant, face mask, nail clippers, electric toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, mouth wash, nail scrubies, more lotion, hand lotion, night time face lotion... it was amazing......I wanted to cry. :) I did my laundry right away and took a shower and we just chatted till pretty late. 

The next day I woke up, Holly made me coffee and then I had yogurt and museli and dried cranberries and apricots for breakfast (I feel sooo healthy!!). Me and Holly talked for a while and then we started to map out the next week. We leave for Ephesus on Sat and we fly home Sun (only one night). So, today we decided to go to the twice-weekly market by them and then to the mall. Cetin drove us and we picked up Teresa, Holly's Italian friend who is hilarious and went shopping for a few hours. I decided that I wanted a dress so we made that our goal and I bought like 5 things...all so cute. I love them!! I MISS EUROPEAN SHOPPING/CLOTHES/STYLE!!!!!! (side note: I also had a revelation that I might make a stop in Denmark, Sweden or maybe Turkey again on my flight home next year...after I finish...and get this shopping bug out of me and BE STYLISH before returning to America and their 2 year behind fashion...even Holly noted this fact.) It was great though...Cetin helped us bargain things down so I barely had to worry about a thing and since he drove, transportation was a breeze. They also informed me that whatever treatment, mani, pedi, massage, I wanted would be gratis because they are good clients of the place and they explained what I'm doing right now and they agreed to do it for free. How awesome! So later this week or next, I'll do that. woot!

After the market, we went to a super market (can you say overwhelming????) for a bit to shop. Holly keep insisting that I chose whatever I like (I picked out German rye bread, blackberries, dates and Perugian chocolates...remember those, Mom?). I felt bad going crazy despite how much I wanted to. They have already done so much for me! Back at home I made lunch for myself which (AGAIN, I MISS EUROPE!) consisted of pieces of Danish/German bread with a plate of veggies, ham, cheese and mustard to arrange as I pleased as an open faced sandwich. Holly baked cookies (chocolate chip and cranberry) and I started skimming through fashion magazines on the patio until the kids came home and we all chatted. Me and Cassidy decided to go to the mall so Cetin drove us. It looks like a modern version of American malls (more simplistically designed with things like digital, interactive maps and a zip line. So cool! Cassidy showed me around and I peeked in and out of stores like Koton, H&M, Zara, Gap, etc. I finally found the sunglasses that I wanted (for a great price too!) and then we got frozen yogurt (Pinkberry...the very chain that was started in Cali and I ate at in Colorado last year when I visited Sarah...) and went to the kids arcade area. There's a huge indoor playground, an arcade area, zip line, bowling alley and laser tag area. We found this 2 player game where you sit inside a hummer looking thing and shoot bugs so, since Cassidy had never played any of the games before, we bought credit and played two rounds. So fun!!

Now, I'm relaxing before dinner, contemplating how lucky I am and how badly I want to live in Europe.

The next day, I was touristy with Holly, Teresa and Cetin, visiting the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia (Aya Sofya) and the Basilica Cistern.  We recovered that afternoon by lounging in a couch studded café in Sultanahmet where we ate this Turkish puffy bread, eggplant kebabs and sipped Turkish coffee and smoked apple and mint flavoured hookah while people watching.  It was a conversation coloured by the opinions and experiences of Italians, Turks, Canadian and me, the American.  We all laughed and bickered over minute details.  It was a wonderful experience and me really appreciated the blending of cultures that I was and would experience.  These are the memories that I really cherish…not so much walking the halls and halls of history museums.  No, it’s the social interaction which echos the years of each’s cultural experiences that makes traveling so wonderful.

That Thursday, I taught at the international school where Cassidy and Kyle go. It was just to Cassidy's grade and only like a half an hour. I made a slide show and they asked a ton of great questions like how do Tanzanians go to the bathroom, do they believe in any superstitions, and how many Tanzanian shillings are in one Turkish lira. I loved it! 

Then, school, we stopped by Teresa’s house for a chat and Italian coffee and chocolates.  We chatted, Teresa, Holly and Gaby (their Bolivian friend) and then were off to Hakart, a factory where they manufacture lots of Turkish house décor that is eventually sold in the Grand Bazaar and around Istanbul.  Since it’s actually a factory, they sell you things for wholesale as a favour, although they still showed us the usual Turkish gratuity.  We browsed floors of mass produced metal wares and then brought whatever interested us to the main floor for a price quote.  It would be like buying Pottery Barn wholesale but Turkish style…with lots of bowls, large plates and pitchers.  While sipping Turkish tea (2 sugars) I settled on two things, a little saucer and cover and a glass votive with the skyline of Sultanahmet in the surrounding holder.  Afterwards, we went back home and Cassidy and I hung out the rest of the night watching America's Funniest Home Videos, baking gingersnaps and making jewelry while Kyle and the parents went to his athletic banquet. It was great :)

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