Not Constantinople

Istanbul was AMAZING. Really, such an amazing trip. While I’m glad to be home (isn’t it the best finally getting home and sleeping in your own bed?), I was sad to leave Turkey as well. wpid-wp-1441892097862.jpg

We flew out of JFK after dropping the dogs off at Eric’s parents. It was so nice that not only could we save money by flying out of JFK instead of Atlanta, save money by not having to board the dog, we were also able to visit family on this trip. Of course, it did mean a 12 hour drive from Atlanta to Philly but sometimes scarifies must be made.

We did have some crazy flying experiences though. The first one started when we were checking our bags. A woman came up to us while we were at the counter with some sob story about how her bags were over weight and wondering if we could put some stuff in our bags. Excuse me?! No! The ticket agent had to help us make her understand that we were not interested because she was Turkish and didn’t speak English great. But seriously, I have never had anything like that happen, I  didn’t know that kind of thing actually did happen despite the constant reminders to always be in control of your bags.

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But the flight was actually uneventful if a bit delayed. We left JFK in the evening and got into Istanbul around 1 PM. And despite sleeping most of the flight, I was ready for a nap. But we went to our hotel (despite the very scary Istanbul traffic), and decided to take a walk around and found the spice market.

That was cool but we were so exhausted from our traveling that we just kind of walked around and didn’t engage too much. We did go back a little later in the week and bought some teas (for me) and some spices (for the boy).

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Our hotel ended up being a real find. The rooms were super nice and not only did we get a free breakfast, there was also free lunch and an evening sunset happy hour on their terrace. That was a really nice rest moment after our long days. We’d go up, relax for an hour, drink a glass of wine, watch the sunset and then go get dinner. wpid-wp-1441892034803.jpg wpid-wp-1441892081724.jpg

And it had a great view.

We stayed in Istanbul for three days and got to see all the major sights: the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the bazars. My favorite was Hagia Sophia but I think Eric really liked the Blue Mosque. It was so different than going to see the major cathedrals and castles in Western Europe. I loved all the tile work and script work. It was just beautiful.

Going to see the Topkapi Palace (which we actually did on the last day, after Bodrum) was also really cool. They had turned part of it into a beautiful public park. The sheer size of the grounds was crazy!

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On Wednesday, we boarded a domestic flight at Istanbul and took a flight to Bodrum which is the south west corner of the country on the Mediterranean Sea. I have never taken a domestic flight in any country other than the USA and it was fascinating to see the different security features. For example, you go through two security lines in Istanbul. One before you even go in to the airport and the other when you go to your gate. They also check your passport to your ticket at the second security point and at the gate before you board.

So the whole reason this trip came about is that one of my very oldest, bestest friends is dating a guy from Turkey and who owns a place in Bodrum. They invited us out for the weekend and we decided to tack some time on in Istanbul to it.

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Visiting Bodrum was completely different than visiting Istanbul because all we wanted to do by that point was sit on the beach and relax. It was amazing. Our hosts took us to some amazing places and we had some of the best sea food and fish we’ve ever had.

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It was so nice to be there with a local, and it would have been a lot harder to do without. Because unlike Istanbul where most people spoke some semblance of English, the people we came across in Bodrum did not. This may because we went to local places not necessarily in the heart of Bodrum.

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I’ll admit that I was kind of worried about what kind of food we’d be eating in Turkey only because Eric and I had a friend in NV that was Turkish and who made us Turkish food on occasion that was awful. Well, we’ve come to realize that it was awful because he is an awful cook not because Turkish cuisine is bad. The best way I can describe it is Greek staples with Indian spices. Sort of. That may be over simplistic. All you really need to know is that it was amazing.

But sadly our time in Bodrum came to an end.

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Coming home to the US we had another crazy flying experience! About a half hour after we were supposed to be in the air but were on the plane (still on the ground), the captain comes on to give an announcement that someone on board was allergic to peanuts and that’s why we were delayed. They give it in Turkish first and then English but their english translations weren’t very good so we were uncertain if the delay was because they were taking the passenger off or if we were being asked not to use any nut products. So this delay went on for an hour and we kept getting different announcements. One would say that the passenger was being disembarked and the other would ask us not to eat peanuts. Bizarre. Finally we get one saying “The passenger has been disembarked. Please gather your belongings for a search.” So we were all confused. A search for what, peanuts? I thought the passenger got off! Thankfully the person in front of me spoke Turkish and explained that they’re actually searching to make sure the person didn’t leave anything on the plane, like a bomb. Oh, okay, WAY MORE SENSE!

To try to beat jet lag, I stayed up the entire ride and watched five movies. Some were better than others. For example, Chappie made me really sad and afterwards I watched Frozen because I knew that was easy. We didn’t get to bed until 2 AM EST and by then we had been up for 24 hours. It was a long trip.

We had such a great time in both Bodrum and Istanbul. I would highly recommend Istanbul to anyone who is interested in international travel. A lot of people were worried about our safety but I found Istanbul was just as safe as any other European city. Be smart and you’ll be fine.