Turkey in Turkey

December 28th- I arrived in Turkey fairly exhausted and greasy. The flight was nearly 5 hours which I wasn’t expecting at all! But anywho, I got there, waited in line for my visa, and then went to find the bus that was going to take me to the other bus that was going to take me to the taxi that was going to take me to Damla’s house. I found the bus and took it (for an hour! the traffic is insaneee there!) to Taksim, a main square in Istanbul. From there, I was so overwhelmed that there was no way in hell I was about to catch anotherrrr bus and sit in MORE traffic, so I took a taxi. I only wish I had known that there was a metro stop around the corner! Anyways, the taxi put me out about $25 but oh well…by 7:30pm I finally arrived at Damla’s and got to run into the open arms of Damla and Clare! We ate a delicious (literally SO GOOD) meal made by Damla’s mom, and then got ready to go out.

We went to Taksim and met up with some friends of Damla’s had drinks with them, moved bars and had more drinks, and then ended up going back to her one friend’s house where we stayed up late talking. We ended up sleeping there and going home in the early a.m. to my first Turkish breakfast.

Friends on the metro to go downtown

December 29th- Turkish breakfast consists of a delicious croissant like bread, toast, many jams, feta-like cheese, olives and tea. So satisfying and delicious. We all went to sleep for a while and awoke around the time when Krick arrived!! We ate another feast courtesy of Neshe, Damla’s mom,  and then went to go take a ferry from the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side. The ferry ride was so beautiful, our timing was just right and we go to watch the sunset over silhouettes of minarets while sipping chai tea… this is seriously my life. We walked around the plaza near the dock for a few minutes on the Asian side (my 4th continent!) and then hopped back on the ferry because we had to go home to greet Tamara and complete our gang! We got home, Tamara arrived, and we ate dinner (at this point I’ll stop mentioning that every meal was delicious because you’d probably get annoyed and really jealous). After dinner Damla’s brother drove us to this BEAUTIFUL hookah bar and my obsession with turkish lamps began. I had a peach mint flavor which was really good. After the hookah bar we went home and had an early night.

Couldn’t stop taking pics of this
The moon, the sky, the sunset, the water, the ripples, it couldn’t be more beautiful
Bridge between Europe and Asia
The hookah bar
My obsession with lamps began the moment I saw these

December 30th- This was our big tourist day. We woke up early and had breakfast and headed toward the tourist sector of Istanbul. In a mere 5 hours we saw the Hagia Sophia, the Islamic Arts Museum, the egyptian Obelisk of Theodosius, went to the Grand Bazaar, saw the Blue Mosque, and saw a Salvador Dalí exhibit. All of the sights were beautiful… as you can see below. After all of that we went home and had dinner, and then went to Taksim to meet some of Damla’s friends out.

The Hagia Sophia
A beautiful mosaic
Outside the Blue Mosque
Our dog friend…and the Obelisk of Theodosius with the Blue Mosque in the background
Inside the Hagia Sophia
The Mihrab, the wall that faces the Kaaba
View from above
View of the Hagia Sophia while leaving the Blue Mosque
Friends!
How could you NOT want to stare at this all day??
Obsession
Inside the Blue Mosque
Inside the Blue Mosque
Please do not sit here.
Love puddles

December 31st- Symbolically, we started the last day of 2011 with a scrub down at a Hamam, a Turkish bath. Basically its just a big marble sauna room with lots of hot water flowing into basins and half naked women giving out scrub downs and massages. If that sounds weird to you…you’re kind of right. But it felt great and you’re missing out if you haven’t ever gone to one. After the Hamam we headed to the Spice Bazaar where you could buy any type of tea, spice, or turkish delight your little heart ever desired. There we’re also tons of great lamps there (obsessed, seriously) and they were cheaper than at the Grand Bazaar! Damnit, shoulda waited. Oh, well. We went back to Damlas house in the later afternoon to rest before the giant New Years Eve/Kubi’s (Damla’s dad) birthday feast. This feast included many many delicious foods, but above all there was Turkey. Turkey in Turkey. We ate and drank and were merry as we rang in the new year (feliz año a todos!) and after some celebration, left to go out for the night. After taking a long cab ride to the metro so that we could walk to make a pit stop at some random kids house, we eventually ended up at a bar. We stayed there until it closed and then after a while, went back to Damla’s house.

Spice grid
The gang ringing in the new year!

January 1st 2012!- Tamara had to leave early but the rest of us slept for a while and then later Kelly, Clare and I took a walk by the water and had some gelato. When we got back home we had dinner, and then laid on the couch and watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Catch Me If You Can before going to bed.

The Bosphorous

January 2nd- Krick had to leave early in the a.m. so we said our goodbyes and then laid in bed for a couple more hours. Clare and I still wanted to go see the Topkapi Palace before our flights later that day, so we packed up our stuff, sad sad goodbyes to Damla and her family (such great people) and headed out. We got our tickets and finally got into the palace, with a few stares for having giant backpacks. Whatever, the palace was beautiful and I’m glad we went. After we had seen most of what we wanted to see, we headed to the airport. We ate lunch and when my check-in opened, Clare and I parted ways. My flight back was fine, except that I was literally surrounded by a family of 9 people and a 3 year old climbing over the seat in front of me to get to her mom sitting next to me. Thank god for noise canceling headphones…

Suited up in the Topkapi Palace
Tourists
Beauty…can you imagine living in a place like this?!?! 
Beautiful hand painted tiles
Shiny… I like
Bye Istanbul… see you soon!

Have you ever spent New Year’s Eve abroad? What was it like? Where did you go? More to come soon…

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