Helpful Links (3)
Myanmar (Burma) (2)
The Stuff that Didn't Fit In Anywhere Else
Stuck Between a Rock and a Hurricane
D.C. to Duke
Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
And Now For Something Completely Different
Myanmar: The Land of the Lost
Heading Off the Beaten Path
Disaster Averted and Paradise Found
Culture shock continued...
From Laos to Bangkok...starting culture shock in 3..2...1...now
A Happy Chinese Moment
Welcome to Laos...where are all the Lao people?
Are We There Yet?; and China redeems itself
Movin' on Out...
Hell is the China Post
Disney China is much easier than Real China
Mainland China, or goodbye English, hello crazy gestures and blank stares
August 18, 2004
Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
What a change a few thousand miles makes. Istanbul has managed to jump to the top of both of our lists for favorite city in the world (passing Paris.) Even a few days of rain couldnīt diminish our enthusiasm for this beautiful city that manages to blend Europe and the Middle East through a mix of good food, wonderful architecture and lively street life.
We were prepared for the worst after experiencing a let down with so many Asian cities whose names promised such excitement -- how can a city called Mandalay be so dreary? -- How happy we were to find that Istanbul delivered on its age-old hype.
Good public transportation, leafy green sidewalks and the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen made us feel as though we never wanted to leave. We were also lucky enough to land just in time for the first annual Sultanahmet Culture and Tourism Festival. Tucked in between the Aya Sophia Mosque and the Blue Mosque listening to a full symphony with choir singing traditional Turkish music is now one of my best experiences of this crazy journey. Standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of Turks, all of whom were singing at the top of their lungs to any familiar song, was more than enough to assuage any media-inspired fears of anti-Western sentiment.
Reading our guidebook before we arrived we were a bit nervous about Turkey and its famous high pressure carpet salesmen, but whether it was coming from Thailand (which can rival anywhere for annoying people) or the Turksī hearts just werenīt in it due to the heat we didnīt find it that bad. These guys are entertaining more than anything. An example of my favorite exchange so far:
Salesman (upon seeing us): Time to buy a carpet!
Me: No, thanks.
Salesman: Where are you from? (Always the next question)
Salesman: America! I love America! Which state?
Me: You donīt know where Indiana is.
Salesman: I know Indiana. (To his friends sitting nearby playing backgammon.) Heīs from Indiana.
Salesman 2: We know Indiana.
Me: No you donīt.
Salesman 2: I know one thing about people from Indiana.
Me: Whatīs that?
Salesman 2: They love to buy carpets.
This is pretty much how all of the high pressure sales tactics go. They actually try to be friendly to you. What a concept. I havenīt grown too tired of it yet. (And Iīm the one that is always addressed. They seem unable to see Jennifer walking next to me.)
What can I say? We really enjoy Turkey so far. The Blue Mosque is the most beautiful building I have ever seen and Iīve seen more than my share. The waterfront with its endless boats and turquoise waters is mesmerizing. After we had a chance to sit and catch our breath upon arriving, we both had the same initial impression about the people. The Turkish people, especially the women, are beautiful. Every other one looks like theyīve stepped out of a fashion magazine.
All that about Istanbul and here weīve already left it. Iīm actually typing from a cafe in Antalya on the southern coast of Turkey nestled against the brilliant blue waters of the Meditterranean Sea. Weīre trying to arrange for a yacht to cruise in for a few days. Itīs not that expensive and how can we turn down the chance to sail in one of the Seven Seas? If we manage to work out the logistics it should make for a great entry.
Weīll keep you posted.
Posted by kobb on August 18, 2004 02:12 AM
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