Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Family in Turkey

Driving in Istanbul was a big mistake. Getting to the city wasn't that bad of a problem, but once we got downtown it was crazy. They have this huge toll road that we needed to take, but we didn't know how to pay for it. Some man charged us for a card that was to be used on the toll road, but he somehow tricked us and we threw away 50 lira. If you drive in Istanbul, remember to buy a card from an actual worker! They should have a vest on or something and will charge you 50 lira, but the card will be good for a long time.
We got across to Asia (during rush hour) but then got lost looking for Kadikoy, which was the location of my parents hotel. I was stressing out like made (I drove again when we got out of Bulgaria) so mom took over the wheel. We kept asking people, but nobody really knew and the signs pointed in all sorts of directions. Luckily, we passed the university near my friend KY's house. BH recognized it and we jumped out of the car and ran around until we found KY's house. While we were originally planning to meet her four hours earlier in Europe, we somehow ran into her as she was going into her apartment. Serendipitous.
This was my fourth time to Istanbul. I brought my family to the big three (the Blue Mosque, Haya Sofia, and Spice Market) but I also brought them to some other areas. We wandered around Ortakoy for hours looking for the Armenian church, but never found it. I guess this means that I'll have a goal when I'm back in Istanbul in August.
My family loved the city. My step-dad even made some friends with antique dealers on the ferry from Kadikoy to Korikoy. The last night we went to Bar Street in Kadikoy. This may be my new favorite place in Istanbul. Four-story apartment buildings rise over a narrow street and instead of residential apartments, they are all filled with multi-story bars. Since it is in Asia, it is also much calmer and free of the craziness in Sultanahmet.
It wasn't all a positive experience. The driving was maddening. We got ripped off twice. The gas was also exorbitant—after Japan, Turkey has the most expensive gas in the world. I guess these things are just part of the travel experience, and I would still love to live in Istanbul. I just need a good-paying job first!

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