Thursday, December 4, 2008
Day 14 returning to Istanbul
Some of the people on the tour decided to do the ballooning over Cappadocia thing this morning, so when I looked out the window and saw sunny if frosty skies I was glad for them. I couldn’t see the worth of 30 minutes in a very cold balloon over that brown landscape for 150 USD so decided that having a relaxing morning was the best plan. Especially since this day included our afternoon flight to Istanbul.
We left the hotel at 9:30 and Mo and I opted out of an underground city tour and instead sat by a warm fire and drank Turkish tea, and then did a little bit of last day shopping in a small village. Lunch was back in the town at a different restaurant, and turned out to be the best yet. Finally, after 2 weeks in Turkey, I found the manti Jeanne told me about. Perfect little pasta dumplings with some meat filling swimming in a tangy yogurt tomato sauce, with big puffy breads. Yum.
After lunch we took our time driving to the airport in Kayseri, and saw how dismal this central part of Turkey can be. Once you leave the chimneys and mountain views, things get very polluted, gray and old looking. The air was dark with coal smoke and haze and there was a lot of garbage around and very tattered looking apartments. This part of Turkey looked more like what I imagine this part of the world to look like, unlike the Turkey we have seen up until now.
The flight to Istanbul on the Turkish Airlines was smooth and lovely, with a gorgeous sunset. As I watched the Black Sea and the lights of Istanbul appear in the dark I realized how truly lucky I was to have been in this country. Later, after landing at the clean, efficient Attaturk airport, we loaded back into a different bus with a different driver and headed for the Lion Hotel in the Taksim Square section of town.
I realized also just how much I loved Istanbul. In the dark, all the mosques were lit and shining against the sky, of course you could see the Blue Mosque and the Suleyman Mosque, but there are so many others. The city is beautiful and rich and full of antiquities and energy. The water of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn reflected all the lights as we wound through the hills to get to our hotel. Istanbul is such a wonderful city, I could spend time there just exploring it’s rich history and culture and hidden streets. There was so much there that we didn’t see in our short visit, but on the way through the city for the last time, I really wished for more.
Our room at the Lion this time was higher and more open, and I decided that indeed it wasn’t the worst hotel on the trip. We had a view of the city lights this time, and in our short sleep time before the 3am wakeup call we were serenaded through the open window by the busy night street life going on below us.