This afternoon, I am in Istanbul. As I write this, I sit amidst green plants and blooming flowers on the perfectly-sized garden terrace connected to my hotel room. It is peaceful and quiet, save for a few birds chirping at each other. I don't mind them. This is one of those moments I feel full of thanks and appreciation for my life and the wonderful people in it.
Yesterday by 11am, I was laying on a white cushioned lounge chair on the Grecian coast at Cape Sounio, soda water with lemon and lime in hand, enjoying the sun and the GORGEOUS Mediterranean with my tour family. About 200 yards away from the beach, the ancient Poseidon's Temple sat (and still sits) majestically atop a cliff facing the Sea; at one point welcoming travelers coming to pay homage, and warning sea-faring armies that the gods were with Greece. I kept imagining what it must have felt like to have traveled days/weeks/months by sail boat, and after any and every hardship to finally see that temple break the horizon.
We were completely spoiled yesterday. After working up a ridiculous appetite by jet-skiing, rock skipping, volleyball playing and sun bathing, there was a feast of epic proportions set up on the dock for us. By the way, the tomatoes in this region of the world are absolutely delicious. So red, sweet, and ripe. I kind of want to buy a bag full and smuggle them home.
We unwillingly left the beach at 4:30 to go to Turkey and must have been a sight to see at the airport; 20 or so sunburnt, exhausted, people navigating giant Burton bags through and around other confused travelers.
Upon arriving in Istanbul, a friend of a friend, Ceren, offered to take me out. She and a group of friends was having dinner at a swanky place on the water, Anjelik. On one side, you can pull up in a car, but if you just can't bring yourself to be seen on four wheels, there is always the dock in the back where one can valet his yacht. Noted for next time! :)
Ceren said it was close to the hotel, so I hopped in a cab, with the thought that I would be at the restaurant in 7 minutes (the doorman's quote). My cab driver apparently had the wrong place in mind, however, because he took me 20 minutes out of the way before stopping to ask directions. We had to turn around. The traffic going the other way was completely stopped, and rather than wait in it, he proceeded to drive down the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD into oncoming traffic! There were cars honking at us and narrowly swerving to avoid a collision...meanwhile Ceren is texting that my fish and my salad are waiting for me, but the restaurant is turning into a club, and they are replacing the dinner tables with high bar tables. By the time I finally arrived at the club, it was packed, and blaring techno music. Ceren and co had a spot upstairs overlooking the water - three banquette tables raised to bar height, and one small table against the railing still lowered to dining height, with a chair and my dinner perfectly laid out. It was so cute, and I couldn't help but laugh and feel a little embarrassed. I enjoyed my first meal in Istanbul sitting while everyone else stood drinking champagne and leaning down to talk to me. They insisted that it be this way.
One of the photos below shows a white mosque (1,000 years old!), and a suspension bridge, which they tell me is the first of its kind - it connects two continents. We were dining and chatting on the Bosphorous, which is a 32 kilometer strait connecting the Black Sea, and the Sea of Marmara. While sitting and chatting on the continent of Europe, we gazed across the water at the continent of Asia. wild. Cheers to new friends!