It’s been a little while since our last post (our apologies for this, Sue, but we haven’t heard from you in a long time, either!). Some of you may be curious what we’ve been up to since our airport dash in Oslo.
We arrived late evening at the Istanbul airport and made it through customs easily. Being that this was our first time traveling to a Muslim country we were curious to observe any differences. Austin was a little worried about the dress code, not wanting to offend anyone with her bare legs and arms. Then David looked to his left and saw a woman wearing extra-high heels and the world’s shortest skirt. To his right he noted another woman wearing a shirt that left her entire belly exposed. Oddly we were comforted by these sights and decided our clothing was likely not a concern to anyone.
Austin asked for directions from the airport to our hostel near Taksim Square and we set off in an air-conditioned bus. Istanbul is hot and busy and crowded and we were both feeling a little shy and pretty put off by the large swarms of tourists. We spent four low-key days in Istanbul walking around and locating good coffee spots. One day we ventured a little farther in search of a recommended cafe and walked over a busy bridge full of fishermen, through a spice bazaar, past vendors, zooming scooters, a university and a mosque. We bought fresh black figs from an old man for about 75 cents/pound and had some Turkish coffee in a cute and quiet cafe. The next day we found an especially lovely coffee shop near our hostel and spent the whole day sipping, relaxing, reading, listening to music and enjoying the sun, the little street view and the cafe’s resident cat.
Though there is a lot of the city we haven’t yet seen, Istanbul felt in some ways like any big city. Overwhelming, bustling, chaotic, impersonal and a little difficult to get inside of without knowing any locals. That being said, there is a lot that makes Istanbul special and unlike any other place (giant mosques, colorful bazaars, calls to prayer, the daily peaceful demonstrations). We’re looking forward to returning again in the next few months to continue our coffee tour, plan an itinerary and spend time with new friends who live there.
After four days in Turkey’s largest city we headed back to the airport for a short flight to Izmir to meet our new WorkAway hosts and begin the next adventure. More coming soon!