Turkish Delight on a Moonlit Night
I left Istanbul today to return to North America for work. Before I left for the airport, we toured the Blue Mosque. It is just steps away from our hotel and the Muezzin wakes us every morning at about 5:50 with the sunrise call to prayer. There must be 8 speakers on each minaret to broadcast the call - there is no way you can sleep through it! The Blue Mosque takes its name from the mostly blue Iznik (Turkey) tilework decorating its interior. It is truly lovely, although we think it is most magnificent when floodlit at night with seagulls circling its 6 minarets.
We left for the airport at 2:30 and I got quickly checked in at the BA counter as there was nobody in line. We then went in search of the Turkish airlines internet ticket sales desk as we had purchased a ticket for Markus to fly from Istanbul to our next stop in Portugal. Again, there was no line and we were through in a matter of minutes. Sadly, it was time for us to go our separate ways - me through Passport Control and to my gate and Markus to find the driver to return to the hotel.
(Note all remaining entries this week are from Markus)
We encountered a lot of traffic on the way back to the hotel and didn't arrive until dinner time. I didn't feel like doing much, so I flipped on an NBA game on the TV and vegged for the rest of the night.
Today I went out to explore the fish market. It is some sight with literally thousands of pounds of fish being crated and iced in a large warehouse area. This is a separate area where the fish are sold commercially. It reminds me somewhat of the floor of the NY Stock Exchange with people yelling out prices and arguing over the price of a hundred pounds of fish. I think I may have gotten caught up in the excitement and accidentally bought a crate or two of flounder! The "up front" fish market is where the fish is sold on a retail basis and is quite interesting. The fish mongers are very original in displaying their products. I met three new friends here (pictured below) - they were the first Turks I met that didn't want to sell me a carpet!
As I was leaving the fish market, I found myself at the 35 kilometer mark of a local marathon. Several tour buses had also pulled over and the tourists were out cheering the runners. I watched for a while and saw most of the leaders go by. I thought the kids trying to keep pace with the professional runners were particularly fascinating - the future generation of marathoners, no doubt!
October 3, 2005
My plan today was to return to the archaeological museum, but unfortunately after I walked there, it is closed on Mondays. Nearby, I discovered a very interesting photographic exhibit featuring 2 photographers from National Geographic. One was Steve McCurry, who is the photographer of the Afghan girl in the red head cover with the green eyes that is still seen in print everywhere. The other photographer, Cem Boyner's work was fantastic, the detail and color was simply amazing.
Next on my agenda was the Spice Market, which is pretty similar to the Grand Bazaar only with foods, spices, candy and dried fruits thrown in. Also on show were stalls selling everything from sledge hammers to Swatches, puppies to peppers, peacocks to prunes; simply overwhelming.
I left Istanbul this morning (above and to the right are a few of my parting images) and arrived in Lisbon around 2:00 local time. It was a quick taxi ride to the Lisbon Marriott where I will be staying for the next couple of days.
Lisbon appears to be a very nice city although, I didn't really go too far from the hotel on my first day. I think I am still trying to recover from the constant noise and motion of Istanbul. Since my arrival in Portugal, not one person has tried to sell me a "finest quality in the world" rug, thank God.
October 5, 2005
The Lisbon zoo is about a 5 minute walk from the hotel so I decided to venture there today. Not a great zoo but it was a nice sunny day and I enjoyed the visit.
October 6, 2005
I picked up a rental car this morning and began the drive south to the Algarve. Southern Portugal is basically flat and brown - very arid, almost desert-like. After about the first 15 minutes, the drive became incredibly boring. I even tried singing to myself to pass the time but quickly decided that the boring scenery was punishment enough.
After about 4 hours on the road, I arrived at Armacao de Pere and followed the email directions to Clube Nautical, my home for the next 16 days. I couldn't have asked for a better location - literally about 20 steps from the path that leads down the cliff to the beach! The condo itself has a lot of potential, but isn't really furnished to a very good standard. It's okay but we have rented much better properties throughout the trip so far.
I got familiar with the complex and immediately went in search of an ATM (new country- new currency), a telephone and a grocery store. I didn't have to go far - I conveniently found all 3 about 1/4 mile down the road. I picked up a few items for dinner and returned to the condo to settle in for the night.
October 7, 2005 through October 16, 2005
Over the course of the next 9 days, there were only about 3 days of sunshine and a lot of overcast days including a couple of days of rain from the remnants of Hurricane Vince. Needless to say, cloudy days at the beach are really boring! I fell into a routine of going to the grocery store and the Internet cafe followed by about a million games of solitaire, at which I devised a million and one ways to cheat (it's just so boring if you lose all the time!). And, of course, counting down the days until Bonnie returns and I have somebody to play with once again.