I also highly recommend 'watching' a Turkish movie in the open air cinema... Have no idea what the movie was about but supposedly it was quite funny. We really just enjoyed a bottle of wine and taught Onur and Samet the noises American animals make.
The boys took us to the beach one day too, so I can check swimming in the Black Sea off my list. We went to Samet's university beach, which was more like an exclusive beach club. Not too far from the city either, maybe a twenty minute drive. One of my most memorable days from Turkey for sure,.
Things I've learned:
- you can't always go into a grocery store and buy a milk carton and assume you're getting milk. Thankfully Ayran (a traditional, salty, liquid yogurt'ish drink) goes quite well with cereal
- causally mentioning 'güllaç' is a great way to start small talk with the locals
- Candace is pretty incredible (I already knew that but Turkey reaffirmed the fact) her phone was lost or taken and she still managed to enjoy the day, and our very unique experience with the 'International' police
I have so much to catch up on from Turkey! It's been going by so fast and I haven't wanted to waste any of it glued to my tablet. It has been a bit of a culture shock, especially at first coming from Croatia. The city of Istanbul its self is huge...a population of over 14 million, and so many of the streets are grid locked with people and the occasional taxi that decides to take the sidewalk. Its the only major city that straddles two different continents, with the Bosphorus dividing the European from the Asian side...ferries are just another form of public transportation here but for Candace and I they've serviced more as mini cruises
It's been pretty incredible to be in the city during Ramadan. A vast majority of the population participates in the month of fasting and worship and the vibe in the city, especially at night, is festival like. Some restaurants are closed during the day until after the sun sets and the fast can be broken (iftar) but other than that the city runs the same. Colorful lights adorn the mosques for 'mahya' or messages of goodwill during Ramadan and there seem to be 20+ call to prayers amplified through the minarets (I think they're actually 5 but when they go off at 3:30 & 5 every morning it seems like a lot more)
Candace went on a food tour and has been filling me in on the Turkish food scene, which is a fusion of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Asian cuisine (whatever that means). Basically we eat baklava and Turkish ice cream which requires a knife and fork
More posts on Istanbul to come but signing out for now...missing everyone back home! Especially those reading this :-)