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Published: June 22nd 2011
Yes blogs are out of order... I got behind and started posting current blogs (Serengeti) and will back post Egypt shortly...
Turkey wasn’t even on our list of places to visit when we set about planning this trip… we were supposed to go straight from Manila to Cairo Egypt before the good people of Egypt decided (after 30+ years) that they were through with Mubarak. As we watched events on the ground in Egypt unfold we opted to add Turkey as a stop right before Egypt as a resting and replanning place if Egypt had descended into civil war by this juncture of the trip… As it turns out there is no civil war in Egypt… but we still had tickets through to Turkey where we would spend a few nights and my birthday before heading on into Egypt.
We arrived in Istanbul after transiting through Abu Dhabi which was a bit of a culture shock as western women in tank tops and capri pants stood side by side with burqa clad women in the airport. After arriving in Istanbul we set about getting a cab to our hotel and after checking around booked a ride with
a company and were told to wait for about 5 minutes before our shuttle arrived, we took a seat amidst other travelers on an island of seats and sat as 5 minutes inevitable turned to over 20 minutes. As we sat awaiting our shuttle a duo of middle aged Chinese men approached and began speaking to us in Chinese… which of course we didn’t understand but that didn’t stop the men from persisting to talk to us, he motioned to the camera in his hand and I thought maybe he wanted me to take a picture of him and his friend but it soon became apparent that one of the men was asking to take a photograph with me… which seemed a bit odd but I agreed. In the space of about 20 seconds the man sat with me and his friend took a picture, then he put his hat on my head (which must have been a secret cue to his Chinese comrads) and we were soon surrounded by a small army of vacationing Chinese snapping pictures of us in the arrivals terminal… it created quite a stir in the terminal as people craned their necks to see what
the fanfare was about… the shuttle company guys ended up asking me if I played basketball in the United States which was hilarious…strange but true I tell you… strange but true.
Istanbul was a very interesting destination as it straddles both Europe and Asia but is a Muslim country… as such we enjoyed a “western” city for the first time since leaving San Francisco and did some mosque hopping, which is always eye opening and interesting. I also spent my 30 something-ith birthday here and chowed down on one of my favorites… Kefta/Kofta kabobs… always a winner! Our stay in Istanbul was short but some of the pics are attached… we did a lot of walking and visited Sofia Hagia (Hundreds of years old and has functioned as both church and mosque), the Blue Mosque and a few other of the larger mosques whose name I cannot remember right now.
Random Turkish travel moment …
We checked into our hotel and I dealt with this Turkish guy who used to live in California so there were no communication issues whatsoever… after checking in we ran upstairs and realized that we had forgotten to get the password to the
thing most near and dear to travelers on the go… free hotel/guesthouse wi-fi. On my return trip downstairs nobody was left in the reception except this somewhat grizzled 50 something-ish Turkish man so I proceeded to ask him for the password to the wireless internet. My new friend looked at me somewhat blankly, smiled sheepishly and shrugged his shoulders… I tried again just saying “internet” and miming like I was typing a keyboard… still puzzled. By now it was apparent that he knew no English and I knew no Turkish so this is where the fun begins. The reception had a desktop computer hooked up to a large wall display so I pointed at the computer monitor and said “internet again” and it resonated with him ahhh “internet-I” he repeated back… ok next clue. I tried the phrase “password” with him but wasn’t getting anywhere when he whipped out a handy dandy English/Turkish translation guide and began thumbing through it… we then began having a conversation through this guidebook that culminated with me getting the password (after looking up the number translations from Turkish to English) and then looking up “thank you” in Turkish before leaving with the password, a
smile and a firm handshake (it appeared he is on staff and they are trying to teach him English… so hopefully the interaction was good for him too).
Next stop Egypt...
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