The Urban Wanderer

Crossing Borders ~ Bridging Cultures ~ Traveling Responsibly

Is it Thanksgiving? Because I sure do smell Turkey!

 This post is originally from June 6, 2014
The magnificent Aya Sofia
I am here safe and sound…
It’s always a little daunting when I first arrive in a big city. What
will I discover? Where will I go? How will I get there? Istanbul is no
exception. It’s estimated that nearly 20 million live in just the
city itself!  It is rated one of the most visited cities in the world and you
can tell by the slick sales tactics of every shop owner calling out
after you. I have to remember that a little white lie is ok now and
then. So YES I do have a boyfriend. I have learned in the past that
when you say you don’t, the harassment ensues at a whole new level.
The time difference is 9 hours so basically I’ve been trying to get my
bearings and get on the Turkish clock. Yesterday while walking around
the area I was invited into a man’s carpet shop for tea. Although we
all know where this could be headed I decided to step inside. I really had
nowhere to go so why not listen to his carpet shpeel. He lead me down
the stairs into a dimly lit room … Hmmmm is this sounding fishy??
And yet… I still followed. It didn’t end badly. He made me the customary apple
tea and actually didn’t mention a carpet once. In fact he helped me navigate a
map to help me understand the area. It is people like this that make
you appreciate the kindness around the world.
This morning I went to one of Istanbul’s top sights called Aya Sofia.
Built in 537 as a church and converted in 1453 into a mosque this
massive structure with a dome reaching 56m is literally jaw dropping.
I opted out of hiring a guide or buying the headset. Instead I
wandered around capturing the awe inspiring magnificence of the common
tourist. The fashion sense of different nationalities really are quite
fascinating. Russians seem to like boots with cut out toes – they are
quite practical you know. Warm enough for a cold day but ventilation
to keep the toes from sweating. Or how about the Japanese wearing
t-shirts that say nonsensical words. My fave – COLLAGE MUSIC NEW.
Hmmmm I wonder what she thinks it says?? Makes me wonder what all
these Westerners getting Chinese tattoos really mean.
aya inside
Inside the Aya Sofia

After seeing all that I could possibly see, I decided to leave and
explore more of the sites. Just as I was leaving the heavens decide
to open the flood gates. It was pouring rain!  And what could possibly be a
tad more irritating than tourists en masse?  Tourists holding open
umbrellas en masse. Not all cultures are forgiving and aware of their
surroundings. Navigating around open umbrellas whilst trying not to
get poked in the head became a challenge. Maybe just chilling at a
cafe and listening to the call to prayer over the intercom was a
better idea for the afternoon!

The Famous Blue Mosque
In the evening I met the group that I will be traveling with.  I am traveling with a G Adventures group and there will be 14 of us on this tour. I didn’t ask for a
single room but it looks like they have me flying solo anyway. Now I
can run around naked all I want. 😉 Just kidding! Tomorrow we have one more full day
in Istanbul and then take a 13 hour overnight bus to Cappadocia. I am
really looking forward to the day and all the discoveries this city
has to offer.
Until next time…

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