We arrived in Istanbul, Turkey at around 6pm tonight which commenced our 17 day european excursion.
After a dreadful eleven hour flight composed of movies (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Annie Hall: both lighthearted quirky movies that I recommend) and comedy tv, we landed in Paris at the Charles De Gaulle and it felt reminiscent of my Paris/Biarritz adventure of last year. Coincidentally, in the line to our first plane I ran into Kat ( one of my friends from the french trip last year who I have not seen since then, and of course we would run into each other at the exact place we met last time going to the exact same place as last time). i am very jealous because she is re-living her times im Biarritz with her home stay this summer!
We then had a 3 hour connecting flight which passed quite quickly thanks to a nice,long snooze and then found ourselves in Istanbul. immediately the bouquet of aromas overwhelmed my senses, those of body oder disguised beneath cheap perfumes and later week’s old trash being dumped by the trash truck. Wasn’t the most welcoming of things but eh, its culture. In the airport we saw a dozen men practicing their religion, Islam considering over half of the country is Muslim and I am eager to see many more of these occasions throughout the day tomorrow. Things I have learned thus far:
1. The Turkish are NOT careful drivers. Similar to my french mom in Biarritz who was shredding over the curbs, our driver from the airport seemed to be focusing on all BUT the road. He offered us turkish candies, pretzels, water, and even perfume to be sprayed ( from his stench it was quite obvious this was his accepted substitution for bathing). He even changed the radio station to American music to accommodate us, whilst checking his phone repeatedly and playing a not so safe game of race your relative on the road since it seemed he knew the man driving the bus in front of us and wasn’t afraid to get really up close.
2. Turkish men are VERY outgoing. Right outside the airport I had my first encounter with a “creep” who purposely moved his stance to get a better view of me, and he did anything but make it subtle that he was checking me out. Of course i found I wasn’t just overthinking when he winked and waved as I walked away. Then of course there was the man who convinced us to come in to get tea and coffee with us and insisted on getting in on my selfie. THEN the other dozen men looking me, and the other Allie ( her family the Bobbitts are on the trip too) up and down as we walked through the dark, narrow streets exploring.
3. The Turkish are ENTREPRENEURS. And AGGRESSIVE businessmen (since no women were working at any of these places): every restaurant you pass by a man is sure to come up to you and try to convince you to take a look at the menu and offer you discounts on the food; basically they were trying their best to do business with you but from an American’s perspective, this “trying way too hard” tactic is anything but alluring.
4. Everyone smokes hookah, and cigarettes. The guy who gave us ( Allie, my brother Will, and Allie’s twin Sam) free tea said he smokes hookah everyday! Walk down the alleyways and you’ll see the giant things being sold in all the stores and used at all the dinner tables.
5. Stray cats and dogs are EVERYWHERE! Literally everywhere. I was happy to find out hat they are treated with love and care by all the Turkish and the government even gives them shots to keep them healthy and pins them on their ears so that both they and the people know that they don’t have diseases and are healthy! So sweet!
So after Allie and I shared a delicious meal of schnitzel ( basically a lightly fried and butter chicken) with a side of peppered carrot, yummy rice, and potatoes and examining our surroundings our first impression is that this is middle eastern city stuck in Europe. But who’s to say I even know and have seen enough of Europe, let alone the middle east to be able to rightly say that. I am wide awake after that delicious Turkish Tea and while I wanted to go explore the depths of Istanbul’s night life my family decided that it was time to sleep, since we have a big day of exploring tomorrow.
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