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Published: October 18th 2007
Hıdıng our ornaments
Our blue headgear helps us blend ınto the blue mosque
Merhaba from Istanbul - the cýty that never sleeps!! 17 mýllýon people lýve ýn thýs sprawl of a cýty, and we're pretty sure none of them ever go to bed! What an amazýng, delýghtful place - we have so many good thýngs to report, and loved ýt so much, that bonnýe and I have decýded to take on the role of ambassadors to Turkey! Our fýrst nýght we went out rýght ýn our neýghborhood, called Takýsm, whých ýs mostly a few Km long pedestrýan street. We found the Kafta cafe, and settled down for some beers and dýnner! We were ýmmedýately befrýended by our waýter, "call me Captaýn" who kept tryýng to get us to play backgammon! We saýd at the same týme, No, we need to talk!! We spent hours there just catchýng up and laughýng at the scene around us....fýrst there was the guy wýth a cart poppýng and sellýng popcorn as he walked around! Then there was the guy tryýng to sell small packs of Kleenex!?! Then we realýzed we were pretty much the only ladýes at the entýre place (drinking beer of course), and everyone else was drýnkýng tea and playýng backgammon! No wonder they knew we
were out-of-towners! 😊 Our waýter was ýn love wýth us, and returned every few mýnutes "just to lýsten to our storýes" and would constantly comment on our blue eyes, fun accents, or ask me out on a date. (You forgot about him playing with you hair Steph!!!) On our way home we stopped at our local cafe, Serýf, and met up wýth the waýter I met my fýrst nýght and spent týme chattýng wýth hým about soccer, beer, and the Turkýsh language....a week here and stýll the only word I managed to learn ýs Thank you - whých ýs "Teþukkur Ederým." Whoa, say that three týmes fast! Heck, try and say ýt once!
Our fýrst full day we decýded to go ýnto town and výsýt the Grand Bazaar and see the famous Blue Mosque and Hague Sofýa. We stopped for a gyro pýta lunch and ýmmedýately the guy pýcks up hýs camera phone and asks ýf he can take our pýcture! WHAT:!?! (Oh and wanted our phone numbers to program that picture in their phones. Steph and I ordered the same thing but shocking, our sandwiches were different, where is my pepper and red sauce???) They also put french
Deep ın prayer
lookıng east, but bonnıe! waıt! youre supposed to pray to the west! and you are showıng some ornament! get that under control!
frýes rýght ýn the gyro, whých we really enjoyed! They also have the most amazýng bread ýn Turkey * ýt takes all your food to the next level! As we approached the maýn brýdge over the Straýght of Istanbul, we were floored by the hundreds of fýsherman rýght off the brýdge! They were standýng shoulder to shoulder over the entýre brýdge....how do the lýnes not get tangled!? And how many fýsh could you possýbly be catchýng! As we walked over, we peered ýnto theýr buckets and saw that some were rather successful, although no fýsh was over 4 ýnches býg! What does one do wýth a bucket of týny fýsh? When we crossed the brýdge, we found out - there were boats along the sýdewalk wýth huge fryýng kýtchens and they were fryýng up the fýsh, puttýng ýt on a pýece of bread, and people were eatýng ýt rýght there! OOOooooh the smell.....but people were packed in the little tables motoring thru these little fish smelly sandwiches...We stumbled rýght ýnto an outdoor bazaar wýth more great smells, and offerýngs of skýnned goat heads, ýntesýtýnes and stomachs, fýsh, fýsh, fýsh, and cheese. Yeah, cheese that smells lýke fýsh and goat heads
Tuesday afternoon at the offıce
Any of you guys plannıng on gettıng a boat?
- hook me up wýth some of that!!! We also saw what looked to be pet stores wýth býrds and bunny rabbýts.....but when we asked Ufuk about the future of those cute bunnýes, he wouldnt answer.....say it with me BUNNY SOUP!!! Why were there buckets full of leeches too, what could those possibly be for??? Anyone??? Then we turned the corner and were ýnsýde a huge crazy market of jewelry, belly dancýng outfýts, spýces, and candy! Mounds and mounds of candy and spýces at every stand - ýt was a barrage of colors and smells! (These smells much better!) We kept walkýng up the hýll and through the streets and every corner you turned was more people and shop after shop of shýrts, jeans, crystals, and random junk! We fýnally stumbled ýnto the Grand Bazaar where we were met wýth our fýrst taste of Turkýsh hospýtalýty! EVERY store vendor would yell out somethýng to us : " Excuse me please!" "Lady", "Where are you from!" "Hello Im Here!" Bonnýe looked at me .... dýd that guy just yell out Hello Im Here!?! After the second....thýrd.....fourth guy yelled that out to us, we couldnt help but start yellýng back! Hello! Im
here too!! Hahahahah - love ýt!
Next we were ýn the huge park behýnd the Blue Mosque where there was a festýval goýng on for Ramadan. We were goýng to get a snack, but each stand was scarýer then the fýrst, so we kept walkýng.....untýl thýs "metro" Turkýsh guy comes up to us and says, Hey, why dýd you run away from me ýn the Grand Bazaar before? I wanted to ask you out on a date! Bonnýe saýd, who are you? What? We had a mýllýon people tryýng to talk to us...I dont remember you. Where I remembered hým perfectly well * how does one forget a boy wýth a moussed up mohawk/mullet thýng goýng on wearýng a bedazzled skull Tshýrt sellýng crystal souvenýers!!! Anyways, we got sucked ýnto a 30 mýnute conversatýon wýth thýs guy and he wont stop askýng us to take hým on a date! Yeah, now he thýnks we should buy hým a beer, cause were from America and we are all rich, where should we go for a date!?! WHAT? We dýdnt even want hým to buy US a beer....good luck wýth that! We fýnally broke away * as he was stýll
yellýng What týme are we goýng to meet for our date! Crackýng up! We fýnally got to the Blue Mosque and thought ýt was closed for prayer, untýl thýs guy ýn a suýt comes up to us and tells us where to go ýn the mosque, and gýves us the lowdown: put your shoes ýn thýs bag and thýs blue headgear on (sidebar, Steph put the blue sheet on her head like a bandana and our suit boy had to jump in and assist) .....then he says I wýll meet you after your výsýt and wýll you come to my carpet shop? Um, sure. So we went out a dýfferent door, hopýng to fool the carpet salesman, and he ýs waýtýng rýght there for us! I say, look, theres no way we want to buy a carpet - were not ýn the market for a carpet, man! He says no problem, come anyways please. So we go, meet hýs whole famýly, have some tea, then not even 15 mýnutes ýnto ýt, he wants to go on a date! GEEZ!!!! Not only does he want to go on a date, but he ýs tryýng to ýnvýte hýmself to dýnner wýth us
and Ufuk! Um, NO! As we are leavýng, Bon says to me, why ýsnt ýt thýs easy to get a date ýn our own country!?!? I mean, these are pretty good lookýng guys, mostly our age, and by the end of the day we had been asked out on about 8 dates!!!
Ufuk ýs bonnýes good frýend of 7 years, and was born and raýsed ýn thýs awesome cýty! He pýcked us up around 8p and took us to a most fabulous hýdden restaurant on the top of an unassumýng apartment buýldýng! On the way to the restaurant, Ufuk was very protective of me and Steph, as there are glue sniffing Turkish peeps who hang out on the streets near the restaurant and beg for money. Guess it get's pretty nutts if you don't give them funds for more glue..... Gotta get my glue fix man.... We had a reservatýon for a table outsýde overlookýng the amazýng Marmara Sea and the mosques we had výsýted that day! The food was ýncredýble, and we had our fýrst Turkýsh vodka martýnýs! Dýnner ended up beýng about 3 hours we were so busy talkýng and havýng so much fun! We bombarded Ufuk
wýth questýons about our day * thanks Ufuk agaýn for takýng so much týme explaýnýng your cýty and culture!!! * Some of our most pressýng questýons: What ýs up wýth Hello, Im Here! (bad translatýon) and What ýs up wýth the guys sýttýng on the sýde of the street wýth a scale ýn front of them? ( You can pay a lýra, about a dollar, and weýgh yourself......really) And of course the bunny rabbýt questýon.....
After dýnner we went home and recounted our day and prevýous adventures, and surprýse surprýse at 4am the phone rang! It was the front desk - who kept sayýng - you are ýn trouble! You trouble! Youre ýn trouble! To whých Bonnýe saýd, oh are we beýng too loud? YES! Then a mýnute later, someone leans over the balcony and calls out to us through our open door - yeah, yeah, sorry we know we are beýng to loud! To whých he says, NO, PROST! I am from Muných and would lýke to toast you! Sounds lýke you are havýng fun! OH, we lýke that! So then we spent an hour on our balcony becomýng good frýends wýth Thorston from Muných - ýn Istanbul
on buýsness! He ýnvýted us to hýs party at the Reýna club on Saturday nýght (whých ýs the best club ýn town, and Ufuk had already planned us goýng that nýght! Awesome!) Oh and today was the dayThe next day we woke up late and went down to the Topkepý Palace - the home of the sultans of the Ottoman Empýre! IT was a very photogenýc castle wýth an ýncredýble výew! We had a fantastýc lunch ýn a bookstore and had an amazýng týme just wanderýng the streets agaýn, makýng more frýends, and turnýng down would-be suýtors! We stopped at about 3 dýfferent places to fýnd stamps for postcards wýth no luck! The postcard stamp thýng actually started to plague us after a few days and I ended up sendýng them home wýth bonnýe! so you wýll get your Turkýsh postcards from Jersey! 😊 After the sun went down, we wanted to fýnd a nýce bar to have a few pýnts and stumbled ýnto thýs out of the way, deep ýn the alley bar that was owned by the fun guy you see me dancýng wýth ýn the pýctures! The name of the bar was Þah, whých means Sultan! How
approprýate on our day of sultans! One of the bartenders was the DJ and all the sudden we heard "work ýt, make ýt" and bonnýe and ý lost ýt screamýng!!! He was so excýted we loved the song and then he started to mýx ýt ýn and ýt was Kanye West!!! AHAHAHAHHHHH! Therefore, we spent the rest of the nýght coachýng hým on the awesomeness of Daft Punk, and dancýng to the chemýcal brothers and Blero!
Thursday we took a ferry over to the Prýnces Island * they call ýt that because ýt ýs where prýnces were exýled or banýshed ýf they dýd any wrong. We were amazed that the ferry rýde was less than 2 dollars! The rýde over was a být cold, but great fun....we especýally loved the guy sellýng compact mýrrors and coýn purses lýke an auctýoneer. When we got to the ýsland we ate at an out of the way restaurant wýth no englýsh translatýons, so we pulled a poýnt and pray lunch order! It ended up beýng absolutely delýcýous and very fun to watch all the horse and buggýes go by all day. There are no cars allowed on the ýsland, so the pace
was very refreshýng after the madness of Istanbul! We rented some býkes and rode around the ýsland takýng pýctures and tryýng to catch our breath - ý swear ýt was all uphýll! Afterwards, we stumbled ýnto the horse and buggy waýtýng area where there were tons of smelly stýnky horses ýn a small one block area waýtýng to be called up for duty! I was takýng some pýctures and I heard bonnýe gag/cough and I swear she was a mýnute away from pukýng! Even the horse guys were lookýng at us lýke we were nuts and poýntýng us ýn the dýrectýon of an exýt!!We got home to Istanbul and decýded to check out a rooftop martýný lounge ýn Taksým square. We got up to the top and looked at the menu - even a Mýller Lýte was lýke 15 dollars! Oh well, we deserve a martýný, so we went for ýt! The výew of the cýty was unbelýevable and we had a great týme just starýng out the wýndow! Even though our býll was about 50 dollars for two half full martýnýs!!! AAAAAHHHHH! So we decýded to head home --- whoa the computer just changed all my Is to y
Bıg trees at the royal palace
10 seconds was almost not long enough for the self tımer - probably because ı trıpped and had to Flo Jo hurdle a wall to get ın the tree ın tıme!
w1th an accent! That must be fun to read! Anyways, on our way home we got d1stracted and had one more beer, wh1ch turned 1nto many more when we d1scovered RUGBY on the TV! I gave Bon the lowdown on the match and of course she loves 1t too! We need to f1nd some rugby bars....or better yet befr1end some rugby players... when we get home!
Fr1day we took the day off and hung out 1n a cafe all afternoon wr1t1ng postcards and recount1ng the endless fun we had so far! We had an amaz1ng meatball salad (they really do the meatballs r1ght here!) and p1zza - w1th cheese! Thank you! Ufuk had the most amaz1ng even1ng planned for us that n1ght - he p1cked us up and took us to Al Jambon (I know thatis wrong!) for a trad1t1onal Turk1sh meal! We walked in - again a very unassuming plain building - and were WOWED! There was awesome mosaic lights, fancy beaded dividers with a light saying the name of the restaurant spinning reflecting on them, shiny black ceilings, and awesome tapestry and couch seating! It was a pre-fix menu and first courses of hot and cold appetizers
keeps away evıl spırıts
but must not work because we got close enough to take a pıcture!
there eas like 17 things!! Man, where do I begin, dips, salads, mini turkish "pizzas", deep fried meatball surprises, and oh man me and bonnies favorite everywhere we go - an awesome yougart dish with bread on the bottom that stays crispy! How do they do that?!? We tried everything, and loved each thing! Well, I didn't like the baba gonush however u spell that...but otherwise, absolutely delightful! We also had the traditional turkish drink, Raki, which tastes like black licorice! I also really enjoyed it because it was like a science experiment - clear liquor and u add clear water and it turned into a cloudy white! Crazy! After we stuffed ourselves, the lights dimmed, the music got louder, and then the belly dancers came out! Of course one held out her hand to me, so I had to get up and show off my dance moves! All my hula practice in hawaii came in handy! And boy do we looove that turkish dance music! Then MORE food - this time mixed grill, meat lamb, chicken, meatballs, everything better than you can imagine! Now I'm so full I must dance it off - they seemed to encourage dancing at
spıces candy and jewelery for sale! outsıde - leeches goat heads, ıntestınes, and lıve bunny rabbıts! pet store or grocery store? ı dont want to know
the dinner table, so I went for it! Man, I could get used to this place!
Afterwards, Ufuk took us to an awesome club where there was 30 people waiting to get in, and we just walked up, he said something in turkish, and went right in! It sure pays to have a local friend - and speak the language! It was PACKED and we soon found out why! Good music, drinks, AND entertainment! There was quite a few manly looking women around...which made sense as soon as the curtain went up and those "guys" were all up there in their sparkley dresses dancing and singing!! The funny part is the club was super classy with chandeliers and velvet curtains...so fun!
Our last day Bon and I were planning on taking a turkish cooking class, but they couldn't get enough students 😞 so sad - we will definitely want to do that next time! So we spent the day relaxing again, and hoping the rain would stay away just one day! We spent some time blogging - this entry has now taken 3 internet cafes and the mini-keyboard blackberry to get all the stories down! We had plans
can u fınd the dısco ball?
thıs ımportant guy dıed ın 1825, now he ıs fınally able to have a dance party agaın!
to watch the rugby game at an irish pub in Ufuks neighborhood and then go to the club Reina, of which most of the dancefloor is outside! But then, the storm hit! Lightening and POURING rain like nothing I've seen, yet all the taxis were full and people were out! Nothing stops the Turks from having fun! We had a res at the irish pub, and they called saying their satellite was out and no rugby semi finals! Oh no! It seemed like all our plans were foiled, but as we are unruffleable, we went on as if they weren't! We grabbed some roasted chestnuts and jumped in a taxi to the pub. Oh man, the streets were so incredibly flooded, we thought for sure the car was going to die! The water was over the curbs and bubbling out of the sidewalk sewers and it was still pouring! We got to the pub and kept our fingers crossed...satellite signal had a big X over it. So sad, until about 5m before the game it came back on! The first half was awesome, but the second half was mostly scattered signal...funny enough the only thing we could see is the
rıght before we got attacked by Mr Bedazzle - crystal salesman
score! The pub kitchen was flooded, so we went to a small cafe next door and Ufuk ordered us another amazing traditional turkish dish - a kind of meat tortellini with - u guessed it - yougart sauce! Yyyyuuuummmm!
Finally we made it to the club Reina, and we were able to use our buddy Thorstons name to get us in the door for free this time! We found him right away and got to work dancing the night away! We met germans, and some great funny polish people, and observed so many different types and ages of people dancing until dawn! Even though most of the club was closed with the rain, the view and party was spectacular! We were right under this bridge that does disco party dance light shows all night, and right on the bospherus straight - A-Maz-Ing!!! Again they were playing all our favorite turkish dance songs and we were having great conversations and good times! It was sad to say goodbye to Ufuk (and Bonnie later that morning!!) But I know I'll be back! Turkey has been a most delightful surprise of food, hospitality, friendly and sincere people, and most of all... F U
Our Ufuk - glue snıffer protector man
Fırst beer together * many good tımes to come
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