Sunday, June 17, 2007

LIVE Blogging - Turkey photos

This was last Wednesday.

Ferry again. Boy, we almost missed this one, but it wasn't our fault.

We finally got the rental car turned in and the ticket mess figured out and rushed through immigration (to leave Lesvos) as much as you can rush when nobody behind the counter is in any kind of a hurry. Then we hustled across the parking lot and actually got on the ferry, 20 minutes late...and then sat there for 40 minutes before it left.

That beats the alternative, of course, but it was very frustrating because Mom had left her prescription glasses in the rental car. We could practically see it from where we were, but the boat was already late to leave, and technically we weren't in Greece anymore!

The town we reached turned out to be very challenging. The guidebook says that people speak English all over Turkey, but it sure wasn't true here! We wound around and around the twisty little cobblestone streets trying to find our hotel, then had another whole adventure trying to buy the bus ticket we would need for the following day. People were very kind, but we couldn't even understand the very basics.

Thanks to Lisa's perseverance and her skillful use of a Turkish language book we brought from the High Point Public Library, we eventually tracked down the bus ticket - about a mile away from where we originally believed it to be.

This was where I managed that second live blogging post - the keyboard, operating system and staff may all have been in Turkish, but the Internet is the same the world over!

We had dinner at a cafe on the waterfront, where the waiter did actually speak a bit of English to us, and applauded Lisa's efforts to thank him in Turkish.

We had heard that bread is an important part of the Turkish diet, and before even ordering drinks, we were presented with evidence of that importance:

In the end, it turned out to be hollow and in fact even thinner than a pita. It was very good. The one plate you see there above had cheese and butter, and the other some kind of spicy meat spread. We've since seen the meat dish listed on menus (with photos looking exactly like this one) as "raw meat balls" but that wasn't until 24 hours after consuming this one, and we figure if it was going to kill us it would have already...

The next morning we got a taxi to take us to that bus station a mile away. We didn't discuss it with him, but even the taxi driver seemed aware that the streets were somewhat on the narrow side.

The bus took us to yet another ferry, this time across the Sea of Marmara, and we arrived in Istanbul in the late afternoon. Our hotel, the SiDE Pension, does not in fact have unusual capitalization. It turns out that it is pronounced the "Sidda" Pension, and Turkish has two versions of the letter "I" - one is dotted and one is not. The dotted one retains its dot even when capitalized. So there.

The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia (okay I haven't been there yet and I'm not sure which spelling is considered correct) are about two blocks apart, with a park between them, almost like a smaller version of the Mall in Washington DC. I knew our hotel was centrally located, but didn't realize it was just a block and a half from these two major sights!

Today is our last day in Istanbul, and as the Preblogging entry indicates, we will be taking an overnight bus to Cappadocia (pronounce it like Artichokia). We saw Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar on our first day, and did the Bosphorous ferry yesterday as planned. We were too tired to do anything else after that, but have plenty of time today to take in the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Sunken Cisterns, all within three or four blocks of the hotel.


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