Saturday, November 2, 2013

Back in Istanbul- Feels Like Home

I returned to Istanbul on a late night flight, arriving at 11 PM. Unfortunately, as was bound to happen at some point, my luggage was lost. I went to the desk to report it and was told to sit and wait while they tried to locate my backpack. After a couple hours, they brought it to me. Yay! But it was now 1:00 AM and I had an hour transfer to Taksim Square and a 20 minute walk to the hotel. When I finally arrived at the room I had booked, I was told they had charged me as a no show. I asked if they had a room and they did for the first night but not the second night. Ugh! Oh well. I just wanted to sleep. I would deal with all of this in the morning. After a good nights sleep, I started searching for a room. Since my mother was meeting me in 2 days I decided to book an apartment down the street. I got directions and was told I could check-in early. I packed my bag and walked to the location on the map. I looked around but no apartment building. Then I read the directions and realized it was a few blocks away in a neighborhood that was tough looking. I stood at the street trying to figure out if it was right. What lie ahead was building covered in graffiti and windows were missing. Crap! I booked a place in the hood! Mom was going to have a fit! I took a deep breath and continued walking. When I arrived at the apartment, I asked if this was a safe area for a woman to walk alone at night. The woman assured me it was but I decided to remain cautious. The room was large and spacious. Very clean too! I hoped it was safe. Only time would tell.

That evening, I went to see my friend David the barber. We had tea and talked. He told me I would be safe and to stop by and he or one of the barbers would walk me home if I was scared. He is so nice! I went to have dinner at my friends restaurant and we caught up. He insisted I stay until his work was done and then he would walk me home. I stayed and soon we decided to go out for drinks and dancing. It was a fun night in Istanbul and the walk home was safe. I was feeling better about the location. 

I awoke the next morning excited! My mom was arriving in Istanbul today! Yay! I spent the day relaxing and then went to meet her at the airport. I had asked my brother to send her flight info & followed the information he provided. I arrived at the airport to find out they was no American Airlines flight 68 from London at 16:20. I wondered if I was at the right airport but decided she was probably on the British Airways flight from London at 16:40. I waited. And waited. One hour passed. That was ok. She had to go through and get a visa, passport control, get her luggage and customs. I rationalized she should be coming soon. At an hour and a half I thought she must have forgotten to get her visa and was back in the lines a second time. When 2 hours passed, I started to get worried. I went to the information desk to ask for help but since I was not certain what flight she was on, nobody could do anything. I waited longer. I searched the airport arrivals looking for her. Where could she be? I found a cafe with Internet and tried calling my brothers and sisters to get confirmation on the flight information but nobody answered. Ugh! I had lost mom before she ever arrived! I knew she would not leave the airport, she didn't know how to get anywhere or where we were staying. I started searching the groups of old people waiting for their tours. She had not sat down with the tour group. Then, I started to worry as I remembered that my brother had said she was sick before she left. I sat waiting for someone to get back to me. Then, I saw her finally come out of customs! She looked lost and tired and did not have her bag. Uh-oh! Everything had gone wrong. She had forgotten to get her visa, went through the long passport control line only to have to repeat after she went back and got her visa. Then, her bag was lost. After 2 hours and 45 minutes she finally arrived! I was happy to see her in one piece! We went to the shuttle bus and made our way back to Taksim Square. Luckily we did not get back to the apartment until dark so, she could not see the graffiti on the buildings. That surprise could wait for morning light. We had picked up some dinner on our way back to the hotel and had a smorgasbord of Turkish foods in our room. Then we called it an early night and went to bed.
The next morning mom was tired and her back was in pain. She wanted a day to just relax and let her back rest. I was invited to breakfast with a friend and she did not want to join us. I left her sleeping. The breakfast was a traditional Eastern Turkey breakfast which was delicious!
He definitely knew how to order a meal. The waitress brought me my tea and told me she would read my tea leaves after I was finished. At the end of the meal, she looked at my tea cup and told me my life was overfilled with happiness. Laughter surrounds me and my life will always be positive and happy. Money will never be an issue (Yes, where is that coming from?). She also told me this was the year I would meet my husband. I suspect this is what she tells everyone.  I thanked her for the reading. My friend offered to order something for my mom but she had said she was not hungry so, I declined. I returned to my hotel to check on mom. She was napping. When she awoke we went for a short walk but her back was still making it difficult to walk. We had dinner and checked out the local protests and police on Istekial Caddesi. Yes, the police were out in full gear with guns and tear gas ready if the evening activities got out of hand.
Mom insisted she needed a few days of rest. The next day, I complied by getting her food and letting her enjoy time to rest. I am hoping she will feel better and be ready to see the city.  More rest and another walk and I realized I needed to move her to a more central and flat location. We packed up all of our stuff and I carried it to a new hotel on Istekial Caddessi. We would stay here until my friend Janjira arrived when we would move to a 2 bedroom apartment. 

Mom insisted I go out and see friends I had met my first time in I followed orders and went out at night. I loved the laid back side of Istanbul nightlife. Small pubs with local music and dance. My friend showed me the local side and I loved it! Turkey has won me over!
Kurdish dancing on the streets after the clubs closed.



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