What did you do for Memorial Day weekend? We went to Istanbul! We made a vow that we would never again spend a holiday weekend in Kuwait when we have so many places to visit close by. There is a discount airline that runs out of Kuwait and they have some pretty good deals for places in the region. The one problem with traveling around the Middle East this time of year is, well, it's hot. Lucky for us they also fly to Istanbul where the weather is fine.
We left early on a Wednesday and came back Sunday afternoon. It's only a three hour flight with no time change. When we landed the sky was cloudy and the air was cool. It was like landing in heaven. We saw green trees and real grass and cows! And that was just on the ride from the airport. We rode a public bus into town and the people on it must have wondered what cave we've been living in as we exclaimed about all the green (and I yelled "COWS" really loud before I could stop myself). The public transit system was wonderful. We took it everywhere and it worked great.
The first thing that struck me was how clean everything was. There was no litter, no trash heaps, no nasty smells, no dust. The second thing that stood out was hills! I know that sort of sounds silly, but the desert is really, really flat and Istanbul is really, really hilly. Then, of course, it was the amazing buildings everywhere you look. They truly don't make them like they use to. The first picture is of the Blue Mosque and all the other mosques are patterned after it.
We did a lot of walking and, while we did sightsee, we didn't have a big schedule to follow. That made it a lot more relaxing than our Egypt trip. It was fun just wandering up a street to see what was there. We ate a lot of street food and sat in a lot of beautiful parks.
We took one day trip out of the city. We went to Nicea (now called Iznik). We got to take a ferry and then a local mini bus. The drive took us through olive orchards and then beside a lake. Nicea is a little town now but it use to be the capitol so there are a lot of historic sites. The main reason for going there was to see the place that the Nicean Creed was writen. Rowan memorized the creed this year so it was really great to be able to take him to the place that it came from.
Another thing we did a lot of was drink tea. Turkish tea is really strong and really good. It seems to be a national obsession and there are tea gardens everywhere. They drink it out of small glass cups with no milk but lots of sugar.
We came away from the trip with a real sense of discovery and excitement. We really didn't know what to expect and we ended up falling in love with the place. It had a really nice feel about it that made us want to stay a while. If the chance ever presents itself, Turkey would be high on the list of place we would like to live. Since we only saw a little part of it, we have a lot more to go back for.Kerri