Well, It was very hard to leave Anne and Baba. There were many tears shed. I had a chance to take some photos into a shop two days ago and have some parting gifts for them. The presents were a hit. Baba had taken our photo against a Turkish flag that I had printed on a plate for him. Suha and I had kissed Anne on a hike out at the water fall in Antalya that I put on a “magic cup” that is black and the picture appears when she pours her tea in. I was glad to get to leave them with some printed copies of our trip. It was surreal, being on a plane and landing in Istanbul, I keep turning around looking for them, we have been with them for 4 and a half weeks!
When we landed we realized that we didn't have to hurry so we were the last ones off the plane. We found a cart for our luggage (we have gained a bag due to all the gifts and shopping). We sat at Starbucks (I swore not to eat anything American on this trip but Suha has insisted on Starbucks at every terminal, so be it). He bought 3 more mugs (he has a collection of Starbucks mugs from around the world) while I repacked and consolidated our 8 bags down to 7 and checked 4 into a secure “Left baggage” area. We will now be using 3 of our bags and hopefully I can remember on Monday where everything goes so the weight is distributed correctly again! And hopefully we don’t gain anymore luggage!! So far we have broken both of our carry-on’s so dragging luggage around has been kind of a pain. Anyway, so we are quite a few bags lighter and we left the airport on a bus to Taxim Maydane. We arrived and Suha was lost, everything has changed so much. After wandering around for a bit, he got his bearings and took me straight to the best kebab place YET!! It was simple and perfect! Afterwards, we walked through Taxim Square which was very quiet and very much like the live web cam feed we have seen online minus all the commotion. Damla, his cousin, said it is unpredictable and mostly quiet during the week when people are working so we figured today (FRIDAY) would be a good day to go see it. There is nothing spectacular as far as I could see but we didn't explore since Suha was on a mission to visit his old School. We walked into the university which has security. He traded his ID for a badge and we walked around Istanbul Technical University and the stories just kept going. It was awesome! “Here is where the girls had their textile classes; we weren't allowed to take them. There was only one girl in my engineering class, she was more manly that me! And VERY smart.” “Here is where I did stand-up comedy, here is where I hosted a radio show for a couple of years, here is a teacher I hated! He failed me 5 times!! Here is where we would have parties and I was a part of the security. “ There was a plane in the courtyard common area. We drank tea and he people watched and told me more stories. It took him 10 years to graduate with his first bachelor’s degree in engineering! He said he was too busy doing other stuff. He was a poet and a cartoonist too. After he graduated, he moved on to do his military requirement and then to Antalya to find a job. After a few months he moved to America to get his English degree and his masters in Mechanical Engineering, etc. We went to the copy/ student store and the same man was there running it. We hung back because there were students clamoring for pens and notes and paper. When he saw Suha, he laughed and got a big smile on his face. We stood around and chatted for a while. He gave me a mug (that’s 4 now to join our 3 that go with the 5 we have in our luggage back at the airport!) and said I’m officially practically an ITU person now! We also went down into the deepest deep of the school where he learned to play table tennis in hopes to see the one teacher who helped him graduate. HE WAS THERE!! They had a nice chat and we left, Suha was just buzzing with excitement. He said when he had left in ’01 he swore he would never step foot on that campus again. I think he is in a much healthier mindset now J
We walked down a steep hill to Dolmabhce Palace, the last home of Attatuk, and around to Beshiktas Pier for a cup of tea while looking at Asia and the Bosphorus Bridge. After boarding the ferry for all of 3 lt ($1.50) we crossed the straight and saw the channel from the water!! It was AMAZING!! It’s kind of reminiscent of San Francisco! It’s built on 7 hills and has lots of color. We grabbed a taxi on the other side and made our way to his Aunt and Uncle’s home.
We were met by the most adorable people!! Damla, (I am already predisposed to like her since she is Suha’s favorite) is the sweetest person you ever met. She works for her dad’s company on the production side of things like Margaret did for our dad. His Uncle’s business is in industrial metal door handles, railings, etc. His uncle knows 7 or more different languages as he is a European business man and has just added two new contracts in Nigeria and Venezuela. His wife is a sweet woman with the biggest smile. She cooked a phenomenal meal that rivaled Anne’s cooking. He son also came over bringing his family and mother in law. His wife speaks very good English and interrogated me on “our” future plans, she said “okay it’s girl time, tell me the news.” I loved her!! She has a 2 year old son and is 6 weeks along on her second. She has one brother and has always wanted a sister so Damla was a gift when she married. Her son’s name Demir is tattooed on her wrist (thankfully! It’s now the only name I remember besides Damla which I have known for a year) and it means IRON! So they call him Iron Man! (oh yeah, and the uncle has retired and turned over the business to the son so they are in the Iron Business now too! Demir was a whoot! He was quite shy but as usual, kiddos don’t take long to warm up to me and by the time dinner was over we were playing and making up games of our own.
I think I’m going to love Istanbul….