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Published: June 23rd 2011
@ TAPS, a pub near Bebek
After the kids are in bed we often meet up at one of the many restaurants/pubs along the Bosphorus!
It's been a while...oops! I won't try to sufficiently summarize the last two months, for my own sake, and the sake of anyone who might possibly read this other than me in ten years. That would be a crazy long posts in which I lose all of your attention, if I have any to begin. But I will attempt to quickly hit on a few major topics, in hopes of remembering my first months in Istanbul. And then from now on, I'll try to be more intentional about blogging. I saw and did as much as I could while the kids were in school the last few weeks. Although I don't have pictures to prove it all because my camera broke leaving me without it for 34 long days. It's now fixed and working, but I have a lot I need to get from Bethany for the time in between! 😊 Anyways, school has since ended and summer is very much here. The days will be fun...but of course long, too! 😊 Turkje, chokaz:
I still know only a little bit of Turkish. Need to learn more! It will be more challenging to find study time now that the kids
are out of school. I didn't even find study time when they were in school. But maybe the problem is just that I'm calling it "study time," something I never wanted to say again after graduation three months ago. Anyways, I just need to be intentional about it... Transportation:
I have an "akbil" on my key chain which I keep loaded with credit -- it's an electronic ticket system for pretty much all public transportation here (except taksis - Istanbul's not quite there yet). I'm now quite familiar and comfortable with buses, dolmases (mini-buses), trams, the funicular, the metro, ferries, and guiding taksi drivers: "lutfen" (please), "sol dan" (left here), "sa dan" (right here), "burada" (here) and "dur" (stop). Sights in Istanbul:
: I travel by bus along the Bosporus Straight almost daily from Istinye (where I live) thru the cute, quaint, and classy seaside neighborhoods of Rumeli (where Bethany lives, a 12 min ride from when there's no traffic - which happens on very rare, lovely occasions), Bebek, Arnavutköy, and Ortaköy, into Beşiktaş past Four Seasons on the Bosporus and on to Kabataş. Kabataş is a main district and hub for catching ferries along the Boshporus or
across it to the Asian side, or for catching the underground funicular directly to touristy Taksim Square/İstiklal Street (Independence Street), or for catching the above ground tram to the "Golden Horn" where the Old City lies. The wait times + hot, stuffy, and smelly buses + horrible traffic on one lane roads = an impatient me dreaming of life on my own scooter in which I cruise thru/past traffic. But, I remind myself to slow down and enjoy, or maybe manage is a better word, the fact that I can't control anything and "get to" just go with the flow of things... Then I attempt to relax by ignoring the smell of BO and the sweat rolling down my back, sticking my shirt to the seat, and I people watch, observe, and/or think deep thoughts about solving world problems until I get where I need to go. Or, let's be honest, I play Snake on my old Nokia style cell phone while dreaming of my first phone call from a friend or family member in the states! 😊 I've mostly stopped this horrible habit, in exchange for studying Turkje. Again, I must be intentional! Back to the thinking deep thoughts...it
was in fact on a bus the other night, while admiring the full moon, watching a massive ship travel under Fatih Bridge, watching the nightlife stroll along the seaside, and the swimmer boys jumping in the rapid, cold, dirty water...that it occurred to me that I'm very glad to be living in and experiencing all that Istanbul is, which is a very dynamic city and culture. I know I'm falling for the city because I am definitely proud to show it off to others! 😊
: I do not expect you to know these places and things I mention, however, I'll mention them to give you an introduction. So far I have... admired
the outside of the famous Aya Sofya (one of the world's most magnificent buildings), seen
the Basilica Sistern (built underground to store water for the Great Palace of Byzantium) and the Aqueduct of Valens (one of the greatest hydraulic engineering systems of the ancient world), awed
at the Blue Mosque (built by Sultan Ahmet 1) and the New Mosque (builty by Sultan Ahmet IV's mother) among many others, and experienced
Eminönü's electric atmosphere of trade and tourists, the chaotic mayhem that
is the Grand Bazaar, the colors and scents of the Spice Bazaar, a scrub down by a Turkish woman at Çemberlitaş Hamam (one of the oldest Turkish Baths), and dined under the Galata Bridge while the sun set on the mosques/water. It's all pretty incredible, really. The more I see the more I realize how dynamic Istanbul is. It has both extreme wealth and poverty, is very traditional yet modern, very conservative yet progressive, possesses it's own strong and unique Turkish culture, but also features a lot of Western influence. Sights outside Istanbul:
: Six of us au pairs spent an off day biking around Büyükada, one of the four main islands included in The Princes' Islands, an hour ferry ride outside of the city in the Sea of Maramara. These islands are a popular destination for Istanbullas in the summer. No traffic is allowed on the islands so horse and carriage, bikes, and by foot are the only options. It was extremely peaceful compared to the city of Istanbul. The old buildings dating centuries back, bright flowers, and picturesque views of the sparkling blue water were so worth the leg workout from biking up the huge
hills. I look forward to going back again!
: Bethany and I were able to get in a very quick trip to Cappadocia (Kapadokya), a region 8-10 hours outside of Istanbul in Eastern Anatolia known for its natural landscape (sculpted by erosion) and it's history. The rock formations are indescribable and no pictures will do this place justice. You have to experience it, better yet, from a hot air balloon (which I AM doing next time, for sure). Bethany and I cruised around on scooter in awe of the fairy chimneys, rock houses/villages, various colorful valleys, caves, and temples/churches built out of and in massive rock. Visiting the Zelve Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a huge hit. Stay posted for a blog and photos to come soon.
More coming soon on my life here as an "au pair" ..."nanny?!" Until then, it's my off day tomorrow. Who knows what the day will bring! 😊
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