Friday, June 12, 2009

Sleep, visit friends, get sick, sleep again...

Well, we haven't done a lot of sightseeing in the last 3 days, mostly because we've either been sleeping, sick, or visiting friends.
After our midnight walk the other day, we came back to the hotel and had breakfast on the rooftop patio. The view is pretty good, which you can't entirely tell because this picture seems to pick up more haze than the land at the opposite side of the Golden Horn - but it's quite nice. And the breakfast is really good too.

Here Mehmed was doing his usual strange flying objects and crashing noises. A normal boyhood craze or a symptom of Autism... I have no idea, people tell me their kids have done that sort of thing too, but I have never seen a kid obsess over it as much as him. I see it everywhere, all the time. It's just as ever-present in Turkey as it is in Canada. Normally I don't mind it but when the knives and forks in restaurants are constantly being spun around in the air it's a bit disconcerting, not to mention embarrassing. Oh, yeah, you say, just take them away - well, the embarassment of the spaceship knives is slighly less than the embarassment of the screaming 5-who-looks-like-8 year-old-in-Turkey when they're confiscated. (Note to self; REMEMBER to bring his harmless big plastic egg-spoon with us to restaurants so that nobody pokes himself and loses an eye.)

Following our Dawn adventures & early breakfast on Wednesday, Mehmed slept in the Hotel room from 10 am to 4 pm, and I napped on & off with him. So Orhan went to visit an old friend from France & when we woke up we went to see him too. This is him at his travel agency. They were neighbours there and went to school together. We went to his house for dinner not the same night (Wednesday night) but the following night (Thursday night). His family was very friendly but I don't have any pictures to post of them since they are probably saved in Orhan's other camera.

He took us downstairs in the travel agency and showed us the historical floors - they are preserved and another floor has been built about 4 feet above them - with glass panes so that you can walk on top and view them. It's quite an ancient mosaic.

We actually saw some small scorpions down there - which freaked me out because I would never imagine them to be in Istanbul, but sure enough they are here - kind of scary because we sleep with the windows open, it's BOILING hot (30 C and very humid), and the windows DON'T HAVE SCREENS. Is that the weirdest thing ever or what?

Our first hotel room had a broken shower, and the air conditioning was pretty much a glamorized fan. It also had a broken shower head, which, if you tried to take a shower, popped out of the wall and turned into a gushing waterfall. And we're told that this is a really good hotel. I'd really hate to see a bad one. Today we finally managed to bump into the maid as we left our room and asked her if we could just see what the other rooms were like - so we asked to switch rooms and are now in a much smaller room (no more attached suite) but omg so happy to have a functional shower and a real breeze coming from outdoors. So I'm just praying that scorpions generally don't venture above the humid sub-terranean world all the way to 4th floors, and also praying that the lizards I've seen climbing walls have a natural fear of hotel rooms. Is it too much to ask?
Anyways, after viewing the scorpions on the ancient mosaics, he took us down another level and inside was this ancient, very tiny church. I'm not sure why it was so small, and I don't actually know how old but it has to be older than 600 years, and my guess is quite a LOT more than that.
Pretty cool stuff.

After visiting with Orhan's friend Musa (the travel agent), his friend Mehmet (used to live in Canada) came to pick us up. He's the one who picked us up at the airport and we went to have dinner with him and his family on the Asian side of Istanbul (we are staying in the SultanAhmet section, which is in the European side). It's the only city in the world that sits on two continents.

The disadvantage to that would be the major traffic problems that we had to get through. Mehmet said that at the right time of day this drive only takes 20 minutes (to his house) but it took us about an hour and a half to get there.

Part of the delay was this bridge that crosses the Bosphorus - too many cars get bottlenecked as they all want to cross over. There are presently only 2 bridges and several ferries servicing a city of 17 million people. Needless to say, that's not enough. Apparently they are planning to build another one in the near future.

But this is a view of that same bridge from Mehmet's balcony. It's quite a beautiful view really. It is lit up like this at night and the lights change colour.

This is Mehmet with his daughter Sueda (pronouced soo-eh-da) (7) and son Abdul Mejid (soon to be 6). They are very sweet, mashAllah. Mehmed had a hard time at first because he really wanted to be able to communicate and neither one can speak the other language. After a few hours, they finally figured out that dinosaurs is a fun game to play - it requires a lot of roaring and stomping but no words. And the word dinosaur in Turkish is Deen-o-zaur.
Later that night, Orhan and Mehmet went out for a long walk, old friends getting caught up - and they stopped for a puff of Nargile (nar-gee-lay) - which is basically a bong for tobacco. We were there so late that we just wound up sleeping over, & got up early to come back to our hotel.

This was the daytime view from Mehmet's patio - on the right. On the left you could see the bridge (below).

The view of the bridge actually looked clearer than this, but for some reason, orhan's camera seems to be a magnet for the haze. Although maybe it does paint the story of exactly how hot it was that day (Thursday).
The night before I had started feeling nauseous, and when Mehmet drove us back the next morning, little Mehmed suddenly started to feel it too. By the time we got back to the hotel he was full on sick & vomited all day.
While Mehmed & I stayed bed-ridden all day Thursday, Orhan took advantage & did some sightseeing. He got tons of pictures of the Topkapi Palace, which I didn't care about visiting but now I'm suddenly jealous and want to go... anyways, hopefully I'll post those another time - but he also met this sweet little old man who knits & sells hats, and this was the same sweet little old man we met here 9 years ago! I guess Istanbul's historic monuments includes more than just buildings ;) JK
Mehmed finally passed the illness after one last big... let's just say hoorah... and then we took a chance that maybe some fresh air would do us some good - which it actually did - he made some Turkish friends at a local park who were quite thrilled to practice their English, and later we went to Musa's house for dinner (Asian side again - only the commute was way faster without a vehicle - we took the passenger ferry and a cab the rest of the way). Had the first normal night sleep Thursday night, went to visit Orhan's cousin Serafettin Hoca (he's an Imam) & his family today. Very nice visit. Tomorrow we're planning on meeting with Serafettin's 18 year old son who will accompany us on a boat-tour of the Bosphorus. Looking forward to that! Now I will try to sleep, listening to the sounds of miauling cats & worrying about whether or not a lizard will creep into my room....
Until the next time.... Peace / Selaam.....

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like your on a wonderful adventure, it's so nice to read all about it. Too bad about the illness good thing it was short lived Orhan didn't have to suffer through it too. Stange flying objects and crashing noises... at my house the boys also play with the forks and knifes if they are seated too early before the food arrives they seem to want to entertain themselves somehow. I think it's a boy thing .. they don't do it as much now but from time to time reminders are still needed. And they are much older them Mehmed.

    Keep having lots and lots of fun. Thanks for sharing it all it's fun to read about it.