May 7, 2006

I have to admit that I had one misconception before coming to Turkey. I, for some odd reason, thought it would be hot. Well, at
least warm. Boy, was I wrong!

Since I’m following summer, I came on this trip equipped with one hoodie sweatshirt and one thin-as-can-be parka which is
more to protect me from rain than to keep me warm. It’s safe to say that I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of these two items
as I wore them nonstop ever since I arrived to Turkey. I guess the good news is that I have a bunch of tank tops that have yet
to even be touched. I’m just hoping and praying that I can retire my long-sleeve apparel once I arrive in Beirut.

Well, enough about me complaining about the cold spell that hit Istanbul while I was there. Let me tell you about some of the
things we did and saw.

There are many beautiful sights here. Seeing the mosques peak out from the skyline was something that made Istanbul
different than other European cities. The Ortakoy area. The mosques lit up at night. The prayer calls. The views along the

One cool experience we had was seeing the Turkish Blue Angels. Of course, that’s not their real name. But as we exited the
Hagia Sofia, we heard loud noises from overhead…and there they were! There were four or five in formation and another
couple that were doing their own thing. We aren’t quite sure what the event was but it didn’t matter. It was just a bit of
unexpected entertainment.

And then there was the last day in Istanbul. Something happened that hadn’t happened the entire time we were there. We saw

In a word, it was…sun.

Up to this point, all of the outdoor cafes we saw just teased us. They just made it known that most of the time it is warm
enough to sit outside. That is, with the exception of the days we were there. Anyway, the sun decided to make an appearance
on our last day there and we couldn’t have been more delighted! We went to Ortakoy—right next to the Bosphorus Bridge.
This area was probably one of my favorites in Istanbul. It’s on the water and has a great little square, colorful buildings and
lots of cafes looking onto the water. Stumbling upon this adorable area and having the sun beam down on us called for one
thing—a celebratory toast with some wine.

Another thing we took part in was smoking different flavored tobacco (referred to as sheesha) from the hookah. We tried both
apple and cappuccino (my favorite). It’s such a great way to chit-chat and pass time.

We also found that our favorite food tended to be the cheap street food. I had a chicken ‘durum’ (similar to a burrito or a wrap)
that was sooo good…and cost just over $2. I also got a grilled fish wrap that was roughly around $1.50. Turkish ice cream is
definitely different from normal ice cream. It almost stretches like taffy. It tastes just as good as normal ice cream but is more
interesting. I officially OD’d on the Turkish Delight candies on Day #3 so that by Day #4 the thought of them literally made me
ill. I felt very fortunate for this as I did not need any more of these.

It was time for me to depart Istanbul this morning…knowing that I’ll be back there for another two days before I head off to
Eastern Europe. Hopefully at that time, sitting at the outdoor cafes will be an option each day.
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The Bosphorus Bridge.
The Blue Mosque at night.
The sun setting.