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Published: June 12th 2005
Football game in Istanbul; Turkey vs Greece
Once back in New Delhi, I went to another dentist to get my tooth looked at. This time, I went to the dentist that the US Embassy uses (or so I was told). By this time my tooth felt much better, and the swelling had completely gone down. Much to my relief, the dentist said that everything looks fine, and that there was no need for me to go through surgery. As you can imagine I was pretty happy, I went back to my hotel room, bought a ticket for Istanbul, Turkey, and packed my bags. I was on a flight by that same night!
"Straddling the Bosphorus, its skyline studded with domes and minarets, Istanbul is one of the truly great romantic cities. Its history tracks back from Byzantium to Constantinople to its place at the head of the Ottoman Empire. Today it hums as Turkey's cultural heart and good-time capital."
Istanbul sure was a HUGE change from the countries that I had spent the last few months in. This place was really modern, and it seemed even more so since I had been in India and Nepal for so long. I found myself taken back
The Blue Mosque
by the most normal things (a metro system.... with AC, clean streets, GRASS, parks, people that aren’t trying to cheat you). I spent a full week in the city and pretty much did everything that I could think of. Istanbul is a beautiful city that really mixes ancient architecture with modern. It has huge mosques sprinkled throughout the city, old forts, huge stonewalls, but also very cosmopolitan buildings as well. All the comforts from home (aww..home..I miss you).
Since I had a whole week in the city I really had a chance to take my time exploring everything. So one day when I was heading back from the "Asian side" of Istanbul (as far as I know, turkey is the only country that is on two different continents; Asia and Europe. And Istanbul actually straddles them both as well. To get to Asia you just take a 20-minute boat ride). Well on the ride back I ended up getting chatted up by a bunch of 15 year old girls who where studying English (and wanted to practice). After about an hour of answering questions such as; do you like Eminem? What is your favorite food? Do you like
Istanbul? And another 30 minutes worth of them trying to teach me Turkish (which is bloody hard!) the teacher came over and introduced herself. She was a very pleasant lady and invited me to there school to talk to the students some more the next day. Apparently they do not have to many native English speakers. I had had a good time with all of this so I decided to go by the next day. I wasn’t really sure what they expected from me but figured I could handle “talking” (as long as I didn’t have to spell). Again I met with the teacher, and about 30 students and chatted with them for the good part of the day. Anyways, long story short. I really had a great time, and I got to meet a number of other teachers who took me under there wing and showed me around the town, took me out for tea, coffee, read my fortune (from coffee grinds...really interesting). It was nice to be able to hang out and interact with "the locals". I got invited back to the school the following day for a fashion show (it was a fashion school), and was really
impressed. The clothing was designed after some of the fashions of the Ottoman Empire but with a modern twist. Throughout the whole 3 days at school I was somewhat of a celebrity with the little kids, taking tons of photos, and even signing autographs.
On another “free” day I went to see some dancers called the Dervish Twirlers. I had bought tickets for the show, which started at 7pm, but decided to go to the "beach" (Kylos) first (for the day). Getting to the beach took about an hour, and along the way I saw something really interesting. It was a beautiful countryside and I noticed that a lot of people where picnicking. But when I looked closer I realized that the picnic sites where actually on the premises of a restaurants. They had PROFESSIONAL picnics! There would be a huge field with blankets and pillows and things of that sort tucked away in all the nice spots (by the creek, under the tree, over by some flowers). Everything was really spread out, so you would never really notice that it was all organized unless you looked really close. Each picnic group would have a waiter and the restaurant
Good Ol' water pipe...a middle east tradition (chad remember these)
would supply everything (even play grounds for the kids) it was a really neat concept!
So I finally got to the beach, sat around for a while and then decided to head back so that I could have time to take a nap before the show. I get on the bus, try to talk to the driver (huge language barrier); since I never know where I am going I always try to let the bus drivers know where I want to go, and I also try to get them to tell me when we are there. But since I don’t speak Turkish, and it is really hard to get all that across with sign language..sometimes it doesn’t work. And this was one of those times. I happen to fall asleep, and when I wake up (about an hour later) we are right back at the place we started. I had gone around the whole loop. I look at the bus driver...kind of like.."dang man, what happened to our little deal about waking me up", and he just looked at me and laughed...and then proceeded to tell all the other bus drivers about what happened (or at least that was
These ladies would sell bird seed to the tourists....great location to be a kid again and run through all the birds (although the ladies didnt seem to like it too much..haha)
the impression I had). So I had to wait around and get on the next bus to try it all over again (this time I made sure not to fall asleep). But the traffic was horrible, I'm talking traffic like the melting pot on a Friday at 5pm. So the normal 1 hr bus ride turned into a 5 hour affair...and I was running later...and later....and we where not moving. I was thinking that I would be able to walk faster then the stupid bus was going so, I busted out my map.....converse (via hand signals) with the guy next to me...basically just asking if we were where I thought we were. He said yes, so I hoped out and started to run (I had like 10 minutes till the show started). Well after about 20 minutes of running through traffic, I realized that (1) I was NOT where I thought I was, actually much much further away and (2) that anytime you ask someone anything, and they don’t understand you, they just say "yes" and smile, which is actually something you learn the first week you start to travel..but I somehow forgot. So here I am running and running
Decorative balls (?) from the bazzar
and running for this damn dance show that I had been waiting a week for (they only show it on Sunday). the traffic lightens up, I hail a cab, and finally get to the show about 25 minutes late (the thing only lasted 50 minutes anyway)...I missed most of the show but at least I got to see the dancers (see photos').
Description of the show:
Whirling Dervish (wurl-ing dur-vish) n. 1. A mystical dancer who stands between the material and cosmic worlds. His dance is part of a sacred ceremony in which the dervish rotates in a precise rhythm. He represents the earth revolving on its axis while orbiting the sun. The purpose of the ritual whirling is for the dervish to empty himself of all distracting thoughts, placing him in trance; released from his body he conquers dizziness.
Over all I had a blast in Istanbul, I met some really great people, and saw some beautiful places. I think the thing that I enjoyed the most was the comforts of not being in India, and the weather!
I have actually JUST GOTTEN HOME. I decided to end my trip a few weeks early to
Fishing is really really popular here. But honestly, I never once saw anyone catch anything (and i did a lot of watching)
surprise Jen (and man I got her!). So I am back now, and will probably be having a get together soon. So if you haven’t heard from me it is because I don’t have your phone number (so email it to me). I’ll probably add one more entry to sum everything up.
BACK IN THE GOOD OL’USA.
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