10.06.2010 - 20.06.2010 80 °F
“Kym?” They asked.
“Kym?” They asked again.
“Kym?” They asked one more time.
“JAIME!!!!” Everyone yelled in unison.
We found a group of recent graduates from Istanbul University who were just celebrating their commencement held earlier that day. We were in the restaurant next door on the Galata Bridge in Istanbul. When we were leaving I offered to take their group photo and we became fast friends. We joined the group for more Raki (an anise brandy of sorts) and found ourselves invited to their graduation party the following night. This wasn’t any old graduation party! They had rented out Reina, the most exclusive club in Istanbul. We decided to go and after somehow convincing the bouncer that two very under-dressed white tourists were actually okay to go inside a private party, we met our friends from the previous night amongst the thousand or so people packed in a courtyard that overlooked the Bosphorous River. “JAIME!!!” They all yelled! “Kym?” someone asked. “Jaime!!!” We then realized that “kim” is the Turkish word for “who.” It all made sense! We danced amongst formal gowns and black ties in our clothes that are less dressy than most wear any day on the street, but we had a hell of a time. In what other country could you get invited to a private party in the most exclusive and famous club in the country, not pay a cover, stick out like a sore thumb, but still be welcomed and have a great time? I love Istanbul!
We spent a total of five nights in Istanbul, moving from a dorm room to a couch on a terrace, to someone’s spare bed in their house. We met numerous people every day that would approach us, welcome us to their country, and chat a bit. We saw the Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque, The Grand Bazaar and The Spice Bazaar. We took a ferry ride up the Bosphorous River stopping on both the European and Asian sides of the river. We took a ferry to the town of Kadakoy on the eastern side of the city and explored the differences of the non-tourist areas of Istanbul. It was a great city and we met some great people and had a lot of fun. We were sad to go as we could have spent another week there.
We took a bus to Amasra on the Black Sea. It is a tourist destination later in the summer for Turks, but there are hardly any white tourists that make it there. We stayed in an ev pensyonu (a homestay) with a nice older woman who didn’t speak a word of English, but made an excellent breakfast. We hung out on the beach and enjoyed the water, although not as warm as SE Asia, it did the trick. We made friends on the beach that got a kick out of getting me to chicken fight with them! Kym laughed histerically from the safety of the beach chair!
We took another bus south to Safronbolu, a town famous for its home construction and being the largest producer of the spice saffron. You would think that it would be cheaper if you found it at the source, but the spice still seems to cost as much as gold! We experienced a Hamam, a Turkish Bath. After sitting in a steam room and a sauna, a Turk scrubs off your skin with a brillow pad glove, washes you with a mountain of soap, and gives you a massage and chiropractic-like treatment. It was amazing!
We now are in Goreme, in the heart of Cappadocia exploring the crazy caves and rock formations. The beautiful natural landscape and scenery makes up for what the town lacks in food, vibe, and friendliness like we found in the other Turkish cities we have seen so far. Our next leg of the journey will be to take another bus south to Antalya on the Mediterranean Coast where plenty of sun, beaches, and climbing will be had.
We miss you all!
Here are a few pics from the last week:
The view of Aya Sofia from our Hostel
Kym is sad because my beer was larger!
The Aya Sofia:
The Blue Mosque:
Kym enjoying Doner Kebap:
The Galata Bridge:
Our friends from Istanbul University:
On a ferry heading up the Bosphorous River:
The Bosphorous Bridge:
The Black Sea:
Winding the clock at the clocktower (built in 1797) in Safronbolu:
Balloons over Cappadocia:
One of the Frescoes in caves in Cappadocia:
Instructions for how to use a western toilet!:
A dance competition in Goreme:
An ancient cave dwelling in Goreme: