|Being a tourist starts at breakfast.|
Sure, tourists are, by definition (I guess), on vacation; but their days are not exactly easy. In a strange city, every step feels, at best, like an educated guess. Every interaction is a linguistic gymnastics move with varying success on the dismount. Every passer-by is a potential mugger waiting to grab your wallet when you focus too hard on snapping a photo of those interesting trinkets at the market.
Tourists also face the elements in ways that locals wouldn't tolerate. Walking around for hours upon hours in the midday heat. Sweating. Buying waters. Sweating more. Finding a WC (toilet). Paying to use a gnarly squat toilet and wedge your way to a sink between two grandmas ironically washing their feet for pre-prayer ablution under signs that advise them to wash in the specially designed areas next door. Sweating more. Buying more water. Finding a WC.
You can guess by now that I've just spent such a day in İstanbul (say ees-TAN-bul to sound like a Turk). In fact, despite the difficulties of being a tourist, today was the bomb diggity.
Alan and I met up with my former roommate from Flagstaff, Özge, a Turkish woman. She took us on a personalised tour of the city today, including a turkish breakfast, the Grand Bazaar, a few mosques, and one killer baked potato.
İstanbul is the quintessential East-meets-West city, I guess. It's really old anyway. We are staying in Taksim, a famous neighborhood catering to tourists from all over the world. Steep, narrow and winding cobblestone streets are the norm here. Every building is unique, every door has a different dimension and design. This place has character!
|The picture everyone takes of spices.|
|Neatly arranged dried fruit.|
Bags of beads in hand, we headed for a shady scenic spot to kick back with a beer. It was great to catch up, and no surprise, our Turkish got a lot better after a few sips.
Then we saw dolphins in the river. No kidding. It was awesome!
As we were accompanied by a Turk, getting back to our home base and ordering a sampler platter of baklava was supremely easy. After dessert, we said our goodbyes and parted ways with our Turkish friend who is headed back to Flagstaff in two days.
|Alan and Özge, enduring the sun.|
Back in our hotel room, the music noise from the bars below is building, and we are ready to pass out. A day in the sun trying to soak in all that this HUGE city has to offer is a tough day. How lucky we were to have a Turk show us around and help us get our footing here in İstanbul!
What's in store for tomorrow? Who knows. I hope the day starts with me sleeping in.