Saturday, January 12, 2013

Exploring Turkey Day 1: AKA Julie's Woes and Rolling with Punches

Julie and I woke up surprisingly early (9 am!!) and were out of the house by 10. Since our hosts had to go to work, our entire day was free for exploration. What characterized our day was mindless wondering, so to speak. And it was very wonderful. We start our day by walking into this "delightfully tacky" treehouse cafe restaurant for some coffee and breakfast. It is only a few blocks from where we are staying. Afterwards, a bus and ferry ride take us to the Europe side of Turkey, where all the historical sites are. From entering a random mosque (one of the many, sprinkled throughout the city), to spontaneous shoe shopping, and then finding ourselves in the spice bazar, before somehow finding the historical sites like the hagia sofia and cisterns, it was such a great day. But what made it perfect was the fact that we weren't on a dead-set, touristy driven mindset. Instead, we were actually exploring the city, letting our feet carry us to whatever destination we would chance upon next. This to me, is the ideal type of travel. And it is just as authentic and rewarding as I imagined it would be. We ended the night by rejoining our hosts for a dinner at home, followed by some clubbing in Takism Square, AKA the center hub of Istanbul. The square is thriving with heavy beats and clubs/restaurants everywhere. Despite being party central, the square retains a distinct Turkish flavor. So think of it as the NYC equivalent to Turkey, but with better music and much more interesting street life. Oh, by the way, buying alcohol without getting carded is so so satisfying. Because even 15 year old Asians are legally allowed to drink in Turkey. Obviously, I am finally where I belong.

Now, onto the subject of #juliewoes and rolling with punches.

First, when Julie and I first enter the mosque we must take off our shoes and cover our heads. Later as we head out, Julie's boots completely break and have to be tied with HAIR TYES. Talk about gheeeetto. We then proceed to find shoe shops for my poor friend who happens to be blessed with abnormally large feet. Finally, we find a store that provides shoes in her size. And they happen to be walking boots that are perfect for the weather. But THIS GIRL proceeds to complain about them non-stop. NONSTOP. She even tells the oh-so-tragic-story of her poor American-girl self who has to bare the burden of wearing these "super hideous construction person" boots around Europe to every stranger (AKA: guys trying to pick us up???) we meet. Since I know Julie is reading this now, I don't feel bad at all about saying this on my blog since she knows deep down this is all true.
Later at the spice bazar, this girl goes on a near-death-trip from sampling a "gummy" that turns out to be laden with nuts. Did I mention she is deathly allergic to nuts?
Sooo, we are basically walking disasters. Or more accurately, Shit Bok shows. And by "we," I totally mean Julie Brown. #ILOVEYOUJULIE #welovehashtags #insidejokes
Luckily for us, Turkish hospitality (and possibly the us-being-cute-girls part) once again saved us. At the stall next door to the near-death-crime-scene was a tea booth where the owner eagerly started showing us samples of tea to smell. By the way, they all smelled absolutely delicious. But somehow we got around to telling him that Julie was having an allergic reaction, and with no further questions asked he took us into his stall and started feeding us tea and water. He was so kind! Even though he was very blatantly flirting with me, for some reason the blatancy made it less creepy. Admittedly too, some his lines were cheesy but endearing ("You study health? Can you help examine me, right here? At my heart?"). The entire encounter ended with me planting my first Turkish kiss onto the cheeks of the flirtatious but very nice tea-stall owner. The important thing though, is that Julie is alive. So, yay for happy endings. *

*NOTE: Julie was also suffering from the craziest sore throat the entire day. By the time we were riding the ferry back, she wasn't too un-simular to the granny from snow white (but prettier). Still, in all honesty she was a real trooper  despite her body not being in her favor that day.

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