Tonight we head to Istanbul. We will leave at 11:55 PM and get to Istanbul at 12:05 AM, for a two hour flight (time change), take a taxi to the hotel, take a nap until time for the hotel breakfast, and start exploring. Sarah, Shawn, Anna and Will were there this past weekend, Sarah and Shawn ran the Asia to Europe Marathon and spent three days exploring the city and a have a list of must see for us. In the evening we will join our tour for an orientation meeting. We will explore Istanbul with the group for 2 more days then will head out to other parts of Turkey We will begin heading home the early morning of the 4th of November.
We are fortunate that we have family that live abroad. It is one thing to visit a country but to live in one, if only for a short time, is completely different. When we travel on a tour, we usually stay in nice hotels & get up and go down to breakfast. It is all laid out for us and we get what we see. There are 2 or 3 containers of cereal and if we see one that looks like the one at home, we sample a little, take a bowl, see the milk and we have breakfast. Here living in the community, we have to go to the store, find where the cereals are, then we’re stumped. None of the boxes look like what we get at home. In addition we can not read the labels and the pictures make no sense, so we take a chance, grab one and head for check out. The box says 550 grams and cost 1500 Drams. How much is 550 grams and how much is 1500 Drams? Then when we go to the public market, no one speaks English so we might see some pomegranates we want, so we point at one. The sales lady takes one look at us, takes a piece of paper and writes 1 kg 3000 Dram. So is this one or six? You hand her 3000 Drams and she picks out three nice big ones but it’s not quite a kelo. She finds a little one under the counter which she puts with the others, the weight is over a kelo but she smiles at you and lets you know that’s OK and we feel like winners even though we might have been taken. One night Sarah wanted fish for dinner so Shawn took Hugh down to the fish market. There were 5 or 6 venders. They each had several tanks full of an assortment of fish. Shawn speaks Russian so he started bargaining. He picked out a big sturgeon and asked if it could be cleaned and barbequed. They would clean it but we would have to take it to a restaurant next door to be cooked. What a show! The restaurant had a big charcoal grill where they cook kababs. They sliced up the sturgeon, seasoned it with salt, pepper and herbs put it in a rack and barbequed it while Shawn and I toured the produce market. When it was done they wrapped in a big sheet of labash - a thin Armenia bread. Only living in a place like this would you see any of this happening.