Sunday, March 11, 2012

On Turkish Ferry Boats and Such.

Merhaba from a hammock on the hill,
There is a balmy gust wafting through the leaves of the mango tree I am currently under, my feet have not seen shoes in over twenty four hours (I aim to make them forget that shoes ever were a thing), and I learned the rudimentary skills of making string hoppers this morning. Oh it’s good to be home.

But wait, you say, “Merhaba”? Merhaba is Turkish for hello, silly girl, wrong language.

It’s because I’m going to tell you about Turkey for a little bit first.


My dear mother referred to my ten days with Hannah as “a wonderful introduction to Istanbul”, which I greatly appreciated – a. because it really was wonderful and b. because the word “introduction” implies that there is more to follow. A week and a half was all it took for me to know that I want my life to be written with paragraphs and paragraphs dedicated to Turkey.

It is amazing, travel blog reader, absolutely amazing. My airbus trundled over several air bumps before sweeping through the clouds to reveal tangled miles of sunbathed streets, soaring minarets, and the twinkling Marmara.

I started off in typical fashion by ending up on the wrong continent. A taxi from Ataturk Airport to the Üsküdar Iskelle (ferry terminal) where Hannah, Brent, and Ryan were going to pick me up felt like a straightforward plan…until I got to the Üsküdar Iskelle and there was no Hannah, Brent, or Ryan to be seen. Only a million people who didn’t speak English and several boats. T’was just fine. I made a Turkish friend or three, one of whom gave me his phone (Turks are the most helpful people around), and we finally got a hold of Hannah. Between hero-phone-owner rattling off in Turkish to her for several minutes, Hannah and I separately trying to get back on the phone with each other (“MY FRIEND. GIVE. MY FR…”), and trying to wheel my luggage out of people’s way we somehow managed to figure out that I was in Eminönü at the ferry terminal that would take me to Üsküdar. A ferry token is 2 Turkish Lira and I had 10 Turkish Lira, so I stood in front of the token machine expectantly for about five minutes or so (expecting what, I’m still not sure, English directions? A magical change dispenser?) until the little man tending the corn stand impatiently took my wallet from me, riffled through it till he found the 10 in question and clucked at me while he counted out change. I have never been so thankful.

Sitting on the ferry with many pounds of luggage around me, I settled in for the long haul. I was going to Asia. Turning to the man next to me, I asked if it would take much longer than two hours and was only mildly put off when he ignored the question completely and smiled at me a little pityingly. It was only when I was trucking said pounds of luggage off the ferry about 15 minutes later that I realized it was probably the stupidest question he had heard in a while.

I didn’t have too much time to ponder on this particular learning moment, because in a minute I was wrapped up in the best kind of hugs – the kind that seem too good to be true because they come from people who’ve been out of hugging distance for so long.

Hannah, Brent, Ryan and I spent the weekend together doing some cool stuff:

The Chora Church:


Clearly the Byzantine crew knew how to do things with some element of panache. And also some skill. The church was put up in the 11th century and stands splendidly still, with only a little spiffing up of the old mosaics in between.

Taking in luscious Istanbul:


The Grand Bazaar:

I haggled down a tea set from the original 35 liras to a mere 20 liras and felt just a little impressed with myself.
“Where are you from, lady?”
“Sri Lanka.”
“Ah, this why your English not good.”

Ah how the prideful do fall.

Not depicted, yet noteworthy: Stumbling upon beautiful little coffee shops in Galata and enjoying chai, Huka, trying Efes (the national Turkish beer) and rakı, dancing the night away at Araf. Ryan made many friends and also Turks spurn American music in favor of Spanish guitar.

1 comment:

  1. Simply lovely to follow your travels Steph! glad you're enjoying life!
    miss you