This is what fifty four hundred miles from home looks like


Yesterday, at 10 p.m. Chicago time, Tina and I flew out of the city and headed for Istanbul, Turkey en route to Italy.

If you asked me whether or not I’d ever visit Turkey, I’d probably say, “I dunno. It’s not necessarily on my bucket list.”

But travel courses through our bones, and we jumped at the chance to stop over in Istanbul on the way to Italy to meet Tina’s brother and his partner.

I’m zonked tired. We flew for 11 hours in cramped quarters with a plane full of flatulent Turks and a crying baby.

When we arrived, neither of us slept well. How well can  you sleep when sitting upright in an airplane?

We knew it would be rush hour on a Friday. So we took a shuttle for $11 lira, roughly $5 a person across town. Then we caught a cab to our AirBnB which faces the Asian side of the country from the European side.

We got taken by our cab driver, because — frankly — I didn’t do much homework before this trip. We’ve been so busy that traveling has taken a back-burner seat. When he told us it would be 45 lira to drive us from the bus to our stop, I didn’t argue. We were running late, and frankly, I don’t know the exchange rate.

He charged us too much. But I chalk shit like that up to travel and the human impulse/necessity to take advantage of the gullible and vulnerable. I mean, that’s American culture to a T.

The driver also rejected a 50 Lira bill because it had a rip in it. It was complete horse shit. He said it could be counterfeit if it’s broken. “Broken?” I said. “Common. It’s perfectly good.”

“No,” he said. “It’s broken.”

Our host had to catch a flight out of the country so we were met by her friend Burak. Which I heard as “Brook.”

He was very kind and patient. He waited for us while we freshened up and took us to a restaurant that our host made reservations for us.

He showed us the neighborhood, and then dropped us at our restaurant where he helped us order several small plates.

The atmosphere at the restaurant was festive. Lively. There were several large groups and there was a local drink that I had one of without doing it right. And then the next time the waitress brought it to me, she showed me how to pour it with bubbly water.

The food was great. But we were served a liver dish that was less than savory. Neither Tina or I like liver, so it was hard to eat.

Back here at our AirBnB, we are enjoying a beautiful site and the sounds of Istanbul. What a weird place.

More soon.