Istanbul Travelogue: Day 1

April 26, 2007 at 12:53 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dawn. The sky turns shades of pink and light blue. From the fifteenth floor I can see the barges floating up the Bosphorus. Commuters cross the Bospherus Bridge, the sixth-largest suspension bridge in the world, connecting Istanbul Europe to Istanbul Asia. East and West. Rays of sun suddenly peak over the clouds that obscure the horizon. I make out a couple of minarets in the distance, making up a part of the many mosques dotting the shoreline. The landscape steadily develops into large hills on the Asian side. I’m up early after a fitful night’s sleep recovering from my jet-lag. I munch on a pear and some Amandine white chocolate. I sip my tea. James is still asleep, though I have a feeling he slept as fitfully as I did.

Here I am trying to wax poetic. My journey here was anything but. The day started out bad: when the UPS guy never showed to pick up my computer, I made an angry phone call and was told they wouldn’t be arriving until 4. So I had less than a hour to lug 200 lbs of boxes to the apartment office, where I presume they were picked up, pack the rest of my stuff, scarf down some lunch, and catch a cab to the airport. I was seated in the very last row of a very large plane, row 56. After take-off, Asshole #1 reclined his seat right into my lap, inexplicably stretching the limit of plane seat reclining physics. So I tried to recline, too, except my seat wouldn’t go back as far. So I spent seven straight hours with this guy’s head five inches from my face. I was tempted to poke it with my fork during my rather challenging-to-eat in-flight meal. About halfway through the flight, Assholes #2, #3 and #4 decided to have a drunken party right behind our seats, keeping the entire cabin awake during the whole flight. Drunken party, complete with drumming, sing-alongs, and talk of hitting the bars in Frankfurt in the AM. Yeah. Fun. It gets worse. So just as we’re about to land, the flight attendant asks me if I’d mind moving to the seat across the aisle, while Asshole #2 barfs up his breakfast in my seat. So we’re landing, and he’s barfing, and I’m trying to keep from blowing chunks myself, and I’m thinking, ok, this is the worst international flight I’ve ever been on. And I still have another flight to catch.

I got lost on my way to the gate in Frankfurt, then stood in an unnecessary line, where I learned that Turks conveniently can’t speak English as they’re cutting in front of you. Once in Istanbul, I had to stand in the Visa line, then the passport line, then the luggage line, then the money exchange line. Then I got hustled to tip some idiot at the taxi stand, finally made it to the hotel, and ended my journey in a fit of cranky tears when I couldn’t get the key to work in the hotel door. And I never did sleep.

Thankfully, despite my incredible exhaustion, I let James take me around to show me the neighborhood. We picked up some dinner from a gyro stand–an interesting and delicious concoction of lamb, fries, and pickles rolled up in a tortilla-like pita. We strolled down the main drag–mostly upscale shops and fancy restaurants. It reminded me a bit of the neighborhood near the Stephansdom in Vienna, except this cobble-stone street had an antique street-car running down the middle. Sort of added to the old-world ambiance. We passed the Galata Tower as we walked down a tremendous hill to the Golden Horn waterfront. At the bottom, we took the Tunel back–the second-oldest subway system, consisting of two train cars that go up and down this great big hill. I was thankful not to have to climb up on foot.

James is now at work, and I’ve got the whole day to sight-see. Many of the museums are closed on Thursdays, but it looks like the Military Museum will be open today, and it’s right down the street. I’m leaving the camera at home for now–James says they charge money to take photos there, and I doubt there’s much to take photos of. Just some cool swords.


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  1. That sounds like a Chevy Chase-style flight. At least you can be pretty sure the return journey can’t possibly be as bad! I hope the vacay in Istanbul is so great it all seems worth it 😉

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