Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 2 - In Turkey

We landed in Turkey around 11:00 on Tuesday, and needless to say, after about 12 hours of travel, we were all tired, hungry, and disoriented. In other words, another day in paradise. We were in Istanbul, after all, and off on another adventure. It's always interesting finding your way through a new airport, and an experience in itself. I am partial to European airports, myself, mainly because of the eclectic mix of people you run into.

We breezed through immigration and customs, grabbed our bags and met up with our driver. The hotel we were staying at sent a car to pick us up, making life easier. I had zero sleep, and the kids were literally running on fumes, but they were having a blast, running around the baggage claim and pushing each other in the luggage carts.

My first thought was to get my hands on some Euros. I thought that Turkey was part of the EU, but I'm not sure if that's the case. I know that some of Germanic and Austrian friends expressed some disapproval of this situation, ironically while commenting on racism in the US. Go figure. It's always interesting when people's true colors show through. My point is, we didn't Euros, but Turkish Lira, instead, which I thought was cooler. You can get Euros anywhere, but regional currency is so much more unique.

One of the most interesting times of a trip is going from the airport to the hotel. You get your first glimpse of the city in all it's grandeur, with people usually going about their daily lives. Plus, since your brain is fried from all that travel, it's all so surreal, almost like a dream. The city of Istanbul was a lot different than I originally envisioned. I was thinking along the lines of Morocco, but it was nothing like that. If anything, it was very modern, very bustling, and very European. A nice surprise.

Plus, like most of our other trips to Europe and beyond, finding the hotel is like finding a needle in the haystack, and you begin to wonder how the heck the driver knew his way. It's a complete labyrinth, but they somehow find their way. Our hotel is located somewhere in the heart of Istanbul, in what I believe is the old section of town. The city is big, with nearly 12 million people, which makes it bigger than New York City, so it's clear that we are only touching the surface of what this town has to offer.

The weather was a little muggy but nice and cool, so we weren't too uncomfortable. The hotel is really nice. The place is called the Sirkeci Konak, and they welcomed us with open arms. It is a really nice hotel, and we got to sit in their beautiful lounge and have beverages while they got our room ready. The rooms are nice, with a great view of a huge park next door that is blooming with tulips. One thing we noticed from the moment we left the airport is the huge number of tulips that are blooming everywhere. It's quite a site to see.

For now, we're settling in nicely, enjoying the food and the warmth of the Turkish people. More on the city later. Until then, thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

Hi Fred, was just looking up your whereabouts as I have a DVD recording I promised you. Looks like it can wait until you get back :).

Re your friends and Turkey as part of the EU, I think I would differentiate between racism and nationalism. Races tend to integrate, but in Europe (at least) it appears be the case that Muslims are not integrating. With a critical mass this creates a nation within a nation. That doesn't work and is a recipe for social warfare. It is not very PC to say, but it is the way things work. Integration is key.

Thanks for writing, I look forward to following your travels.


phredude said...

Hi Rick, Thanks for the movie. How was California? We are here until the 17th, so I'll talk to you then. And yes, there is an important distinction between racism and nationalism, though the lines are sometimes blurred.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fred,

California was fantastic! We had an engaging itinerary, including getting Syd up on a surfboard in Santa Barbara. I became completely intrigued with the story of how water is moved around the state, and in particular the liabilities of the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta. I put up a few pics on FB with some of the high points.

Have a Turkish coffee for me.