I love flying. I hate airports, but I love flying.
There’s something about watching the ground disappear beneath you as you float into the air that I find exhilarating, and it never seems to get old. The clouds look like a bed of white cotton candy (especially leaving London). Like if you reached out the window, you could scoop it up with your hand and eat it. Plus, there’s something satisfying about plane journeys. You hop on the plane in one place: one city, one state, one country, one continent, and you get off in a completely different place a few hours later. Pretty remarkable really. I still don’t understand how something so big, heavy and metal can soar through the air so quickly, but I’m not going to worry too much about it, I’m just going to focus on enjoying the ride.
I just left Turkey and am back in London after three fun-filled days. Alex and I started our morning by heading over to Asia for a quick hello. There’s not much to do on the Asian side (at least not near the border area) so we meandered around for a short while before hopping on the ferry back to Europe. We had lunch under the Galata Bridge after haggling with the restaurateur for a stellar deal (15 YTL each for a huge lunch – about £7.50) before heading back through the Spice Bazaar. I managed to nab a 100ml bottle of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue from a back alley Turk selling his black market products. While we waited for his partner in crime to scrounge up the goods, he was telling us stories of how people would go down to Egypt to get products and then bring them back to Turkey to sell. Though he was asking 90 YTL for the perfume, I managed to snag it for 20 lira. Not quite sure how that happened, but I didn’t want to ask questions. Actually, I wound up with a lot of Turkish goodies this weekend: a new, incredible overnight bag, souvenirs for friends and family, two amazing wallets (one for mom), some jewelry and boxes of Turkish delight, plus lunches, dinners and coffee, all for under 250 YTL (£125 or so). Not too shabby! After our continent-hopping morning, we settled back into our hotel shortly after 1P to get some school work done while lounging. While my attempts at productivity were rather futile, it was nice being able to relax before heading back to Ataturk International.
Though our hotel wasn’t exactly five star, the location was central and made the teensy rooms and shared bathroom worth it. Overall, I would undoubtedly visit Istanbul again, and I would definitely stay in Sultanahmet. In actuality, I would head back just for the Grand Bazaar! I could easily spend three days meandering the roads of that place. Though the men were on the more aggressive side the people were friendly and we had many conversations over tea with locals. If you’re planning on visiting, take note: though three days doesn’t seem like much, it’s enough for getting in the main sights plus getting a feel for the culture. Don’t pass up the Grand Bazaar or the Egyptian Spice Bazaar and certainly don’t miss out on stepping into a mosque. Be prepared for a call to prayer at 5:00AM to wake you out of a deep slumber and don’t forget to patronize a hookah joint to enjoy Turkish nargile in the evening (you can smoke inside, so cold weather doesn’t have to be a deterrent). If you’re going to visit Topkapi Palace (which you probably should – 20 YTL each), either snag a map or know what you want to see before-hand. It wasn’t until afterwards that we realized we had missed out on a number of rooms and a few must-see artifacts. Don’t be afraid to haggle (it’s expected and if you pay what they’re asking, you’re paying way too much!) and don’t be afraid to talk to the locals. Despite some overtly aggressive sales people, there are loads of great, warm Turkish folks who make for great conversation and deliver good insight.
I’ll post some more pics tomorrow & catch you up on my Saturday evening checking out the Whirling Dervishes at the Press Museum. By the way, this video captures the song/worship that we woke up to at 5A every morning; captured some on video/audio during a mid-day trek around Istanbul Uni:
Love from London,