Thursday, December 02, 2010

Istanbul vacation with Catherine!

Blogging is a daunting task.  For the past few days I've had blogger opened up but never got around to updating.  I don't have an excuse but I do have a reason for a fantastic entry!

Catherine (sister #2/Arizona sister) came to visit!

Our plan was for her to arrive and head straight to the Sofia train station for the overnight to Istanbul.  Due to some miscommunication, I thought that our train was going to leave around 1030pm but when the lady handed me the tickets it was for 730pm.  I had a minor freakout since Catherine's flight was scheduled to arrive 430pm.  Meaning if there was any kind of delay, we'd be in trouble.  Luckily, her flight was only about 30 minutes delayed and we made it to the train station just fine!

I had a "Welcome to Bulgaria" meal ready for her to have some food on the train.  Her welcome meal?  Subway.  Much more exciting for me than for her no doubt.  The train turned out to be about 15 hours to Istanbul because the border stop at 3am took awhile.  We got to sleep enough, arrived in Istanbul, wandered to our hostel, put our bags down and headed out for the day.

Our hostel was located in Sultanhamet Square which is the Old Town.  We were a four minute walk to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia and the Basilica Cistern.  It was beautiful!  We also lucked out on the weather.  It was sunny everyday.  Chilly in the mornings and evenings but comfortable during the day.  Чудесно!

Eventually we made our way over to Taksim Square on the other side of the water.  It is so different than the Sultanhamet area.  We walked the main street and checked out the shops like MAC, Lush and counted the Starbucks.  Also, Istanbul knows what's up in public transportation.  Their trams are new, nice, clean and the ticketing system is much more efficient than... another city that I frequent.

But my favorite, favorite, favorite thing was the Spice Bazaar.  I LOVED IT! So many delicious smelling teas, spices and so much more.  The pictures in there are great too, so many colors!  Catherine and I also went to an authentic Turkish bath.  The one we went to, Cagaloglu Hamami, is on the "1,000 Places to see before you Die" list!

Point is, everyone should check out Istanbul.  The people of Istanbul were great, we felt completely comfortable and safe the whole time!

(Catherine also came to my village and did that whole thing - but that wasn't so much a vacation for me. I'm so glad she got to come.  It was a lot of fun and she's an awesome travel partner!)

Border Patrol in Turkey

The Blue Mosque - women have to cover their heads to go in

Cool tile wall

Spice Market

Dinner at La Safron.  (C&I recommend!) We had homemade ravioli and a chicken crepe.

Freshly squeezed OJ from a street stand and some crazy hair

Back in Bulgaria in my village

Day trip to the Rila Monastery where it was cold, rainy and not incredibly enjoyable.

Thank you for coming to visit Cather! 


Vicki said...

Enjoyed your review and I'm glad yall enjoyed one another and your trips so much. You know, DART opens in the Branch!! on Saturday. Wish you were here to take a ride!

Catherine said...

Absolutely Veeves!! I'm glad that I am a reason for a fantastic entry! :) It was such a wonderful trip and I would say that for me, your village was a fantastic vacation too! I loved THanksgiving, limited internet and no one to bother me. It was perfect...oh, and the Christmas movies. Thank you for letting me come and play with you! :)

kristen said...

yall are SO cute!! i bet that was so much fun to be together!!