Turkey 2013

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER coming back to San Jose are in [square brackets].


Report 18. Day 18, 19 and 20.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, October 15, 16 and 17. Conclusion of Turkey 2013.


This, Turkey Report #18, is the last Turkey report. It covers three days, not the usual one report = one day. The purpose of this report is to wrap up Turkey for 2013.


Day 18. Tuesday October 15, 2013. Goodbye Rachel. A Quiet Day.


Before we are up, Tara takes Rachel to the nearby airport, for her double shuttle ride to the European side Ataturk airport. That young lady is having and will continue to have a very successful and rewarding life.

My sore throat is turning into a cold, and I can't tell you how relieved I am. Let's see: a cold - sniffling, sneezing and dripping vs. strep throat - every swallow a trip to hell and back, and given the human requirement of swallowing occasionally, I dreaded this more than anything. Everybody is feeling so sorry for me, but I'm just feeling like I got an early birthday gift. I am so jazzed.

It's still bayram, or holiday, so the Turkish flags are still up, as you see below.



It's another gorgeous sunset, and I love the straight white contrail of a jet. As my eye travels from the leading point of that line, back to its beginning, a minute or so ago, I love the way the contrail has transmogrified into little white puffs.


At the risk of boring you with spectacular sunsets, indulge me a couple more, if you can. {All from Tara and Cihan's balcony. What a view they have}


The Pegasus Airlines jets come in as regular as clockwise, maybe a minute apart, all day and evening. A stirrup of starlings flies by. I know, I know, is it really a stirrup? No, of course not, but where I'm sitting right now, in our room, I can't get internet, so I can't look that up. Anyway, the flyby is fun. {Bob finds later it is called a murmuration of starligs. Who thought up these anyway? A murder of crows, an exhaltation of larks, for example.}


Tara proposes a special kind of tomato soup she makes. It puts to shame every cup or bowl of tomato soup I've had in my life. She told me the ingredients, and if I find them before I issue this report, you will know them. At the Rummikub table, as the three of us play, I try to distract them to increase the odds of winning, by stuffing wads of kleenex up my nostrils. That to me seems better than... ugh! But every time they look at me, they crack up. "Hello, my name's Bob. I'm running for congress. Can I count on your vote?" {I told him it'a hard to feel sorry for someone when you crack up every time you look at him. Poor Bob}


Some great news is that I ask if we have any decongestant, and there is some Sudafed and a bunch of different nose sprays. I take the Sudafed, and hit each nostril with a small bottle Tara has found of Otrivine. In capital letters, it explains things. And I quote: "DOZ AYARLI BURUN SPREYI." Sounds great to me. Here's hoping for a better night's sleep. Man, the sore throat has changed to a code very, very quickly, and as I said earlier, I am soooooo grateful. Come on, AFRICA!


Day 19. Wednesday October 16, 2013. Decongestant Bob.


Our friends from a few nights ago, Oner and Handan come over to tell us goodbye, to share some jokes, to give Sharon some chocolate, and just because that's what Turkish folks do -- visit each other. And that means tea or coffee, sweets and great stories and laughter. {This is a tradition in Turkey at Bayram holiday, to visit each others' home, bring a gift of sweets(baked or candy) and visit}


Oner loves to try and talk English, and he is better at it than he thinks, and that's saying something, because he thinks he's pretty good at it. That's the sort of thing we say to each other's face, so this is a low blow since Oner's not here to retort. He asks a lot about our RV trailer, and says their family has wanted one for a long time: "We wanted to get a motorhome, but our budget could not afford it, so we got a motorcycle." And that's pretty funny.

They are going to visit Handan's mother and sister, on the European side, and up near the Black Sea, leaving today, in fact, right after our visit. They apologize for not spending more time with us because of holiday obligations, and I'm sorry that Cihan wasn't here because they mercilessly chop at each other. Great, great enlightening stuff. {Tara finishes up their visit by reading the remains of the Turkish coffee she served for Handan. The ritual is that you finish the very strong, thick Turkish coffee until there are only a thick remainder in the bottom of the cup. Then you place the saucer over the cup, swirl the cup and then invert it. A lot of the coffee dregs go onto the sauceer. First she reads the pattrn on the inside of the cup, going clockwise around the cup. then she even reads the pattern on the saucer. She told Handan that somethin big is coming up for her. Wonder if she would have read about my kidney stone before it happened?}

I only took Sudafed last night, and got wonderful sleep. I took the spray last night and again this morning and once in the afternoon. My nostrils are clear and it's awesome. We play some more Rummikub but I can't remember who won. And you know that that means a certain person didn't.

And that's it for another short day. See you in the morning.


Day 20. Thursday October 17, 2013. Goodbye Tara.


I wake up feeling refreshed. Tara fixes some breakfast, and we discuss the two ways to get us to the airport. First, the all-road way: We take a taxi over to the local airport. We catch a shuttle (a big bus) that goes from this airport to a place in the heart of Istanbul on the European side called Taxim. From there, you switch to another shuttle which delivers you from there to the big airport we must fly out of. Second, the bypass-all-bridges method. We take a taxi to Bostanci, take a ferry all the way to the European side, then another taxi to the target airport.

We want to try the shuttle all-road system, but the risk is that the bridges will be jammed (a twice-a-day occurrence. It's sad beyond tears), and we won't make our flight, even with a couple of hours head start. There is an internet URL Tara goes to that shows colored roadways depending on the traffic. Free flowing is green, slowing is yellow I think, and what I see all the time mornings and evenings -- red, red, red for stopped traffic, or extreme stop and go. It might take 3-4 hours to cross a bridge when it's like this, or maybe even more.

We check last minute status: close bridge is red already, so we are going to take the taxi-ferry-taxi route. {It is the last day of the holiday and like in the States, I think people start coming home early to "beat the traffic" but it just ends up creatng traffic jams earlier.}

I work like crazy, shaping Report 17 and get it out. Whew. An extremely long, but very satisfying day and report, to write. (A sidebar here is that I wrote Report 17 once, had it completely finished, ready for Sharon to review, but the program crashed. No problem, I save often. But wait. What? Are you kidding me? I wrote that entire report without saving ONCE? NOT ONCE? IMPOSSIBLE. But unfortunately, apparently, true. I'd say I lost about 6 hours of solid work. What's a polite word for -- oh never mind. I've recovered, as you can see)

We have a light lunch, then start packing. When we're ready, we put two big bags and one carry-on in front of our apartment door, and that's the first photo below. The taxi man comes, and he uses a GPS similar to my own Garmin, and here's a shot of us going along the shoreline, on what you might call not a freeway by any means, but an expressway. Occasional red lights slow us, but there's not much traffic, and it gets us to the ferry. Tara earlier pointed to a taxi stand when we were in the local Pendik, and she said she thought this was the taxi stand that responded when they call for a taxi. Anyway, once Cihan tipped one of the drivers (two brothers own the stand, and each sometimes drive, in addition to having other drivers) a huge amount -- like 50 Lira or so -- and ever since they have treated Cihan and Tara's requests immediately and without fail, and they bring them tea occasionally, as the brothers are from Rize, on the Black Sea Coast, and a huge Turkish tea growing center. {We wonder where the driver was when we were waiting and Tara called him. He expaned that he had tea for Cihan, had fogotten it and was going back to get it before he came to pick us up. Priorities}


Below you see us with our luggage at the ferry terminal in Bostanci. You buy a token about the size of a dime, put it in a turnstile slot, and go through. But we can't get our luggage through, so they have a slick system. There is a door next to the end turnstile, and they have us all go through it. Then Tara returns through it, puts one coin in and manually rotates the counter bar. She does this one more time for the second person, then the last time, she puts the coin in and actually walks through. Thus, the luggage gets through, the proper amount of money is given, and the turnstile accurately counts the number of people. Only Tara forgets to go through the third coin, so she walks through the bypass gate again. So Cute.


Here we are after passing through the blue turnstiles. And the next photo is what we see after landing on the European side. Istanbul to me can be thought of as the city of cats. They are all over the place, often outside the back doors of restaurants, where owners give them leftovers from the evening dinners {We figure that each of these transformer boxes must be emitting some heat as it is rainy and cold so the cats have staked out their spots and the one at the bottom is just biding his time.}


Another taxi takes us from the ferry landing terminal to the airport. We have lots and lots of time, so we decide to play Rummikub, but with cards. I go to a little shop and buy two identical decks of cards. We take out all the extra cards except for two jokers, and off we go.


We approach 5 pm, and decide to wind it up. Tara walks us to the security entry point, and we say goodbye there. Now normally whoever goes into security turns round after exiting and can see the "staying" people for a last goodbye wave. Tara does her part, we learn later, but Sharon and I were too overwhelmed with the procedures to have that thought. She saw us leave the end of the security line, but without us looking back. DANGITTTTTT.

We had a fabulous 3 weeks, and the best thing we did was to bump up our original 2 week plan to 3 weeks. Maybe next time we'll do four.


Here we are on the plane.

And that last photo Sharon took as we left Istanbul.

So for today, that's our story, and we're sticky toffee,

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