Notes are BaCK Again (=with a vengeance of course!!! )
After a string of domestic tours (=notes of which have not been fully uploaded, my apologies, hey wait why am i apologising, blame those exams!!!) an international tour was being thought of (=thought of?? it was a unanimous demand)
Initially it was HONG kONG that we were to visit, but the March 11 Tsunami, “tsunamied” our chances of getting to HK and China atleast in the near term horizon (=damn damn!!)
After whirlwind planning and 3 weeks to get bookings and visa formalities in place, the trip was put together for us and i will put it for u (=Wow sounds so formal!!!) Well i would generally advise you to travel by yourself to get a hang of the place you are visiting and you generally look out for good options but, But and BUT..no time so the travel agents made a dime (=marks of Turkey!!! i’m becoming a poet!! )
Skip the details…..(=the ride to the airport, the food we had, the rush at the Terminal, cranky babies etc etc)
9th April : Finished with Exams (=TY University, i do seem to be all “growed up”)
9th April : 11:30pm
last minute packing, locking the suitcase with little time for sleep
9th April : 5:15 am
Seat Belt on, pilot ready and we take off!!!
Although i never really sleep in flights and generally have a motion sickness problem, i slept like a log. I barely remember the breakfast i had (=Oh No!! Wait i do, it was mushrooms fried in butter n pepper, a weird layered pastry, cake, fruits n bread)
Although we had a screen with lots of good movies, the Stewards (=yes we had good looking smiley stewards!!) gave us the head phones probably when we were nodding off so i don’t remember. Also the movies didnt work that well. So we played a game called “Word Traveler” which helps you to build up a vocab so we tried Turkish but i dont remember anything!!.
Alright, i dont have photos but the first view when we were closing in on Turkey, Istanbul actually was amazing. There were blue seas (=which we learnt were the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara actually), green patches and villas with red roofs, it was like a fairy tale. i dont have a picture to post but it was very scenic.
After the usual rush to get out of the airplane and get luggage, we made our way through all the duty free to find our transfer van. The first thing that struck my girly senses was that, Turkish people are an eye candy (lol). Second, they are fair and incredibly beautiful. We found the person who was supposed to transfer us to the hotel. His name happened to be something funny, like Tootsie or Tootles or something. The driver’s name was Arjan (=the easy ones we remember)
And Wow, Istanbul shocked us!! It was beautiful. Wide roads, lots of plants especially tulips, really really beautiful as the pictures show. We were not finished looking at the flowers when the road wound us up to the sea. Beautiful..i really don’t have the words. There were old buildings on our left and parks, boats, gulls and the sea on the right, with the smooth traffic free road ahead.
There’s not a lot known about India in Turkey and vice versa, we don’t know a lot about the country despite there being lot of similarities between the cultures. But i’ll comment on the culture and the city later. Our first impressions were Dumbstruck.Amazed.Wow.Super Weather!!!!
Our Hotel was located in the ‘Historical Peninsula’ which is the place where all the monuments and travel spots are within close reach. So to our surprise, instead of keeping a straight road, we took a left and went up a winding road taking turns through a lot of hotels to find ours, ‘The Golden Horn, Serkeci, Istanbul’ (=Thats pronounced Sir-Ke-Chi).
We checked out our rooms, (=2 separate ones, we’re quite grown up now!!) which didn’t have much of a view but that doesn’t matter. We checked out some of the flight magazines. The ‘Istanbul Shopping Festival’ was on at that time. Also there were articles about how Istanbul was a “Global City’ and a ‘Melting Pot of Cultures’ (=Very 12th std french textbook like) also about Istanbul as a shopping destination. People will remember Istanbul as the city that kept changing the name from ‘Byzantium’ to ‘Constantinople’ to ‘Istanbul’.
Most of the magazine articles were in Turkish, with English translations by the side. Also i read about Turkish brands and about a place to visit in Turkey which has amazing waterfalls.
Also to our surprise, the TV in my parents room (=very ICAI style, the kids room hereinafterreferred to as 202 and the parents room as 203)
Ya back to the TV,(got lost in the brackets!!) There were channels with Turkish soaps (=US soaps dubbed in Turkish) other Turkish channels and BBC (=1 channel, for Christ’s sake, English anyone!!) So effectively we were cut off from the English speaking world and media (=Quite nice actually)
Turkey is 2.5 hours behind Indian.Standard.Time (=I say they r ahead but whatever!) so by that time which was about 12:30 -1 Turkey Time, we were all ready to eat a horse (=not literally, i guess we could eat a few chicken maybe and a whole vegetable patch)
So we went to the Reception and asked for places where we could have Authentic Turkish Food. The Bell Boy, Bell Man actually (=well he was old and had a salt n pepper head, what can i say) recommended this place called Ozler just opposite our hotel. So we made our way to Ozler.
Fact: Like in all European Countries, Turkey Restaurants keep a copy of their Menu Cards outside the restaurants. When a curious bystander comes looking at the dishes or the prices, an appointed waiter, salesguy actually, comes and sweet talks you into having a meal there.
Of course this didn’t work the first time because we were already going there. The restaurant apart from a few starters which are vegetarian (=aubergine, olives, salads and other stuff), the main course was Non Vegetarian.
Discovery: Istanbul Sensation ‘AYRAN’ = Youghurt + Salt. This drink is a sensation. Its available everywhere and is refreshing, cool and awesome (=Only for a price of 3 Lira in restaurants, and 1 Lira in the SuperMarkets)
Ayran was our constant companion till we left Turkey.
Ok so our lunch was some Yummy Lamb Kebabs, Chicken Sheesh and Bread
We also had some Cut Fruit on the House (=yipee!!) which was delicious, i mean huge pieces of juicy oranges,,,,wow
Daily Info Bits: Restaurants serve you unlimited amount of bread if you dine there. So for all the hoggers – Eat, Munch n Bite
The One who took our order was nice enough to let us see the kitchen and introduce us. We saw their big ovens (=no pictures sorry)
Also before we entered, my dad and i were seeing the prices and my mom and sis were chatting with one of the sales-guys called ‘George Clooney’ lolz and he thought my mom n my sis were MY KIDS…yea yea not funny i dont look that old!!!! So he was trying to cheer me up while i fake cried!! (=OK Stop Laughing!!)
So in the end we got a pic with him too!!
After the lunch, we made our way to the hotel room 203..and decided about our day. We decided to spend the day walking around and exploring the area. We had a 2 tours around the city looking at the attractions. We’d landed on Sunday and the Tours were on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Coming Up: Exploring Around, Istanbul Everywhere, Hagia Sophia, Yerebatin Cistern, Galata Bridge, Galata Tower all on Day 1