November 12, 2007

DAY 77 - SAILING FROM ISTANBUL

I am such a fat kid! So I had an amazing lunch (grape leaves and kebaps and hummus and the most perfect grilled vegetables, accompanied by a nice red and the sweetest waiter in the world), at this unpretentiously hip cafe near the Blue Mosque. Then I went to a pastry shop to get some last minute Baklava. I ALSO indulged myself with a cup of, basically, cannoli-filling eclairs covered in chocolate pistacio pudding. HEAVEN and a sugar coma, love it.

Sad to see the Eastern hemisphere go, and especially sad to leave Istanbul. I didn't have nearly enough time to explore, my job is starting to suffocate me, but what I did see, do, eat, meet- I loved. It's a perfect mix of center of the world history and chic cosmopolitanism.

WHERE TO BEGIN?

Last night I got off of work at 8:30 or so. After pushing myself all week, I decided to treat myself to one of the world famous Turkish Baths. So I take a taxi across the Bosphorous to Cerimbitas. The bath I've chosen is the most well known in the city, but of course my driver is clueless. Our Turkish and English not exactly getting any point across, he decides to pull over outside the Blue Mosque and ask a waiter in a restaurant that's closing. When the waiter explains to the driver where he needs to take me, the lovely little old man gets fed up and politely suggests we end the journey here. Luckily the waiter tells me that the bath is just a five minute walk, then insists I come in for a cup of Turkish tea. After a little while, he invites me to go up to the restaurant's terrace to see the view - of Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Bosphorous and everything in between. I don't know why, but I politely declined. In retrospect, it could have potentially been the most breathtaking cityscape I'll ever see in my life. Next time.

Turkish baths.. the Sultans really had something going here. Now, I'm not one for heavy old Turkish women in their calvin kleins (picture the most outrageous caricature- EXACTLY), but if one wants to scrub me down, wash my hair and give me an hour long massage I won't say no. I couldn't help but think back to being four years old and bubble baths and my mom rinsing my hair with a sand pail. And I have to give these women credit for mothering hundreds of women a day and still with a smile on their faces.

I loved walking down the streets here and passing century old churches nestled into the Rodeo Drive of Istanbul. I loved drinking tea looking out at a column that's been standing since B.C. (in school I always felt like anything that happened B.C. was not history but mythology, too close to the sun). How most storefronts are older than the country I was born in. I was talking with the waiter last night about that - how at home we're proud that my house has been around since Sunset and Lexington was a horsetrack. He's proud that he works across from the oldest place of worship in the world. In the nicest attempt to make me feel better about it all, he told me I could be proud that my country had come so far in so little time - from infancy to (in so many words) central power.. Without getting into it - I know too little to talk politics, especially in Turkey right now - I kind of laughed and shrugged it off. I think it's more charming to be proud of the Hagia Sophia.

What else has been great about Turkey?

The second night here the ship's agents organized a pickup game of soccer (football, futbol, whatever). 10 of us from the crew played with 5 of their guys - and they could really play. Proud to say I held my own, both in and out of the goal - after a few goals I willingly bequeathed (VOGEL) the position to our 6'4" 250lb German (like REALLY German) Hotel Director. And even on the field I'd have to say I did alright - Ally you would have murdered me over a goal I missed though, it was a PERFECT shot. Anyway, that was very fun and I am still sore four days later.

The first night here Sasha and I walked from the ship, across the Bosphorous and had great mezze and kebap at this restaurant, Hamid, that looks out at the Golden Horn. Then we walked about 2 miles to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia – gorgeous lit up at night. The area is covered in stray dogs – crazy ones – who couldn’t decide if it was more interesting to follow Sasha and me or to fight each other.

The only thing I’m really bummed about is not getting the chance to explore the hidden nooks of the city. In a city like this where I could roam for days, having three hours to do something interesting and then be back for work is insanely frustrating. Luckily I was off at 8pm here, so my nights were relaxing. I ate great food (fish, like REAL skin and bones fish – what a big step), and really enjoyed everything, but I just felt so constrained by the time limit. I’ll definitely come back.

Oh exciting incident – I brushed past a pile of cardboard boxes with hidden glass inside and got stitches! Then fixed my makeup (Brett tore my brand new jeans open, of course I’m going to cry) and rallied and went back out for the night.

Ok my mind is clearly all over the place, so I’ll get back to work.. Right now we’re sailing through some Turkish islands (are there Turkish islands? Maybe it’s Greece?) on our way to Croatia. I’ve been gifted some free internet so I’m hoping to put up photos from Thailand, India, Egypt & Turkey. I’ll also try to get some thoughts/stories down about those trips.

<3 MR

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Melissa , I so look forward to the next chapter of your amazing adventures. Your words fill us with incredible pictures -we are there with you.

I am so impressed by all you are doing and loving. I am in for this return trip.!
Love, Mommy
I'll get the sand pail ready for you...

marn said...

My dear friend,

what an adventure you are having. I look forward to hearing your stories, extreme independance and soulful experiences. Im so proud of you and wish I have the opportunity to see half the places you've seen in this short time. We are very overdue for a snuggle fest, much to talk and cry and laugh about. missing you everday

<3 fishy

Anonymous said...

missy I haven't written anything yet but I love reading your blog. Every place you describe sounds so awesome makes me want to pick up and go there.

I can't wait for you to come home! please come play in DC before moving, and then I can show you my cute historic site
<3 jenny beth

Anonymous said...

The pictures are amazing. A picture is worth a million words

Thank you Meliss
Love,Mommy