01 September, 2013

First Steps into Istanbul (24-26 August)

We've made it to Istanbul! Along with our long-awaited reunion with the Vurals! Happy Days!

On Saturday night Hakan and Emir collected us from the airport and drove us to Seda and Harun's apartment. We are so grateful - Seda and Harun have turned their apartment completely over to our family and the Vural's (here after named as the VurAllen's). They are staying at Harun's mother's apartment while we kicked them out.

Finally at last - all the Vural's (plus the extended Vural's) and the Allen's were all together again after six long months apart. It was a glorious reunion and a delicious welcome-back dinner made by Hatice, Sema and Seda. 

On Sunday our group of fourteen headed out to explore Istanbul which included our tour guide extrodonaire - Seda. First up - cruise on the Bosporus and journey to the Asian side of Turkey. Did you know that Turkey spans both the European and the Asian continents, divided by the Bosporus? 

We walked to the Metro to get to Kadiköy and a short ferry ride to get us to Besıktas, where we got on the big ferry for our cruise. Here we met our new friends Ozer and his sons Umut and Mert. As well as welcoming back Seyda and Emir. Our group turned into a herd.

Our ferry started out close to the Sea of Marmara and by the afternoon we were at the mouth of the Black Sea.

What a great way to get to know Istanbul. It was beautiful cruising along with the fresh breeze and watching the scenery go by. Our destination was Anadolu Kavağı where we hopped off and started wandering the streets. Seda and Seyda went off to search and bargain for the best place for our herd to eat lunch - and did they find a great place! Air conditioning and our own little room on the second floor of the restaurant. 

After lunch it was time to hit the shops and ice cream! Then it was time to head back on the 6:00pm boat.

By the time the boat docked it was time to eat again! Dinner in Kadikoy was yummy Durum which is like a Turkish burrito in a very thin tortilla filled with shaved meat. Finally we headed home - tired and well-fed.

Monday it was time to explore the Spice Bazaar otherwise known as the Egyptian Bazaar with our tour guide Seyda. By the time we left the apartment and took the Metro to Kadikoy it was time for lunch - more Durum. Yum. Another ferry ride to Emınönü where we saw the Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the old city walls in the distance. 

The Egyptian Bazaar was everything I had hoped it to be - but also very, very crowded! I loved seeing and smelling the open bins of spices and tea; I think the smell of the pomegranate tea is my favorite. Of course we had to sample some Turkish Delight (Lokum). 

After shopping indoors and outdoors (a little less crowded), we were hot and hungry. Since it was rush hour, there was no way we'd make it home in any reasonable time. So onto the light rail to Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque. How many of you can say you've played a game of freeze tag between the Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque? I can! It was quite the game - six kids and three adults while Seyda was kind enough to hold all of our bags.

Then it was time to eat again, of course. The Vural's took us to their favorite outdoor cafe behind the Aya Sofia - the Dervish. And guess what? There was a whirling Dervish performing while we ate. After a scrumptious dinner it was time to head home - very late - for a little bit of sleep. We had to catch a plane in the morning to take us to Dalaman and our Patara beach vacation.

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