Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 7: Exploring Istanbul

Throughout the past week I've spent in Istanbul I've learned a lot. I now speak more Turkish than French. I've accepted that I cannot navigate the streets no matter how hard I try. My ukulele skills have improved. I've read about King Suleiman's conquests and love affairs, and then visited the mosque he built. Attended a yoga class in Turkish. Learned how to make Turkish tea. I've eaten a lot of Turkish treats and attempting to conquer the rest. I've also learned not to order whisky in touristy restaurants without checking the price first. I can even count to 40 in Turkish.

The famous Blue Mosque.

I've spent a lot of time with Banu. It's been an incredible experience having her show me around the city where she grew up and experiencing this environment with that awareness.

Some cats on the campus of Banu's college.
An authentic Turkish breakfast with Banu and her sister.

In comparison to backpacking Europe solo, being lead by her is a different experience. Especially throughout the first few days I was completely reliant on her to show me how to get where we were going and how to get home. I joked with her numerous times that if she disappeared I would just die. If you look at the street map, perhaps you will understand. I didn't mind this feeling of reliance but exploring on my own was also enjoyable.

Istanbul is pretty crowded.
The view from Galata Tower, best with Banu.

Eventually I got the hang of it and ventured out by myself to Istanbul's historic district. Without my prior traveling experience I admit I would have been totally overwhelmed. Thankfully I was able to use my skill of semi-aimless meandering so I didn't feel frustrated and lost. Walking through streets packed with shops who's exotic goods overflow into the street, happy that I'm not being hassled by salesmen, I was glad this aspect was different than Morocco. Eventually I stumbled upon King Suleiman's mosque, where I spent a long time trying to absorb every detail.

The front entrance to the mosque.
A unique view of the city from the courtyard of Suleiman's mosque.
Graveyard cat.
Taking sneaky photos in mosques is probably bad.

I spent the rest of my day wandering around the same way taking pictures of this and that, exploring and reading Huck Finn without seeing anything in particular.

Stray dog and at the port.
I don't think a lot of tourists go here.

It felt great to wander around a new city, taking photographs, paying attention to details, and soaking it all in. It's nice to confirm traveling is my favorite way of spending my time at this point in my life.

I ended my walk around Istanbul's historic district by sitting at the water watching the boats and people, drinking sahlep until it got too cold.

Ending the day the tranquil way.

I've also been plagued by jet lag until I slept for 12 hours the other day, passing out at 7.

Big plans in the works, but that's for another entry...

New words:
Su = water
Sağ ol = thank you
Sağ olun = thank you (mo' proppa)
nefes = breath
Saçmalama = don't be ridiculous
Afiyet olsun = bon appetite
sol = left
sağ = right
tuz = salt
istiyorum = I would like
lokum = turkish delight
sıcak = hot
bebek = baby!
hayır = no
çay = tea
emlak = real estate
süt = milk
okul = school
özel = special
simit = sesame bagelesque treat
simitçi = sesame bagelesque treat man
gözülkçü = glasses man
dişçi = tooth man (dentist)
cell-o-can = Turkcell logo friend
giriş = entrance
çıkış = exit
canım = my dear
nar = pomegranate
sen = you
ben = I
bir = one
iki = two
üç = three
dört = four
beş = five
altı = six
yedi = seven
sekiz= eight
dokuz= nine
on = ten
yirmi = twenty
otuz = thirty
kırk = forty

*Banu laughed at me the whole time she helped me correct these spellings *


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