Thursday, June 6, 2013


After a long flight we arrived in Istanbul... we were so tired we found our apartment thanks to a few locals and what they call Turkish hospitality... you don't have to look at a map very long here before someone intervenes and shows you the way... two kind guys actually called the guy we rented the apartment from and told him we arrived... we were so tired we decided it was nap time... and our host told us it was going to be hard for vegetarians in a city of meat... so we decided on pizza...

This friendly pooch wanted to help us... but out server told us he had already eaten twice... so no pizza for this little guy... I assumed when he said he had eaten twice that he was talking about pizza... he lived in a pizza parlour after all.

There is only one kind of Turkish beer... it's called Efes and I've tasted worse... also a rum and coke is 15 turkish lira here and a bottle of rum is 80 lira... Ashley has remained sober for the entire trip so far... I on the other hand... am still drinking Efes as I type this.

The next day our first stop was the Blue Mosque... known in Turkish as the Sultan Ahmet Camii.

One of the greatest things I have seen to date... the Catholics should have taken some notes... this beautiful building was clearly created out of love and devotion... no opulence here just craftsmanship with beautiful tiles reaching from floor to ceiling and a thick carpet underfoot... we stayed for a while to take it all in.

When you travel you over hear some funny things... but this one may have taken the cake... you can't enter a mosque with your knees or shoulders showing and you have to remove your shoes so they provide you with green or blue sheets to cover yourself... the russian guy above was wearing shorts... and he said to his girlfriend in a thick russian accent... "I feel like some kind of blue jedi."

B-rock is sleeping now so I'm going to take over from here...

We went to the Grand Bazar after the mosque and frankly, I was terrified that it was going to be an elbows up, mosh pit situation. But it was actually really calm and not that busy. 
You could get lost in it for hours but that would be a mammoth waste of time because every single stall falls into one of the following categories: jewellery, sweets, linen, porcelain, rugs, lighting or knock offs. I immediately discovered that Turkish Delight is not as disgusting and far more varied than I had thought.

I also learnt that Brock and I totally lack the ability to haggle, bargain or otherwise partake in the buying/selling exchange that most enjoy at the Grand Bazar. The entire time you are there, people are trying to sell you things and drag you into their booth. And we decided not to purchase anything from someone who wasn't trying to sell us something. But then once they listed their price, we happily offered up payment and found that out of pity or guilt, most vendors would just give us more change and tell us it was ok. Whatevs. I'm totally satisfied with my full priced trivets. Jokes on that guy, I would've paid several lira more for them. 

We are constantly mistaken for being American. Which is no big deal. But our favourite line from a vendor in the Grand Bazar was when he asked us if we were from China. To which Brock replied, 'no but all your stuff is.' 

Oh yeah. And there are protests going on. Have you guys heard anything about that?

I don't know about the kind of protests that you guys go to, but these ones have watermelon. And wherever there is watermelon, there is a good time. 

We are actually staying a short walk from Taksim Square where the protests are taking place. While we were nervous to arrive and see a mammoth crowd of protesters approaching us as we walked to our apartment, it really hasn't changed our trip at all.

Not to undermine what the protestors are fighting for or the horrorshow that was last weekend, but it truly has been relatively calm since we've arrived. We keep checking the news and have now figured out that things are either wildly different in Ankara or that news outlets are just re-running images from Friday and Saturday when the majority of the violence took place. 

I have yet to see a police officer that isn't directing traffic. The general mood has been closer to a big festival than angry mobs. There is chanting and marching daily with pot and pan banging at 9:30pm each night but we've found the crowds to be really peaceful and absolutely respectful.

We heard that last night the protests turned ugly again but still can't find reliable information online that is relevant to Istanbul and Wednesday evening. English speaking media seems to be lumping Ankara and Istanbul together and not getting dates right. 

We have seen a ton of leg and one pretty serious head injury that seems to be related to the events on Friday. From what we've seen online they seem to be from tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. It's really sad to see teenagers and dad's walking around with injuries from last week.

But... don't worry about us. I've had a few emails and texts of concern but we're more bothered by mosquitos which have bitten my eyelids and made me swollen and ugly.

Anarchy in a maxi skirt. Wish I realised it was see-through earlier....

Brock's awake now. We'll update more tonight. 

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