You haven’t missed much here the past couple of weeks. On the morning of Halloween we said goodbye to our friends in Izmir and boarded a bus to Istanbul. We landed in Erdem’s hostel where he generously provided us a free bed for the entirety of our stay. We had 10 days in Istanbul (which we’ve dubbed the “City of Cats” due to the number of friendly street cats all over the place), to refresh ourselves before moving on. Unfortunately, David’s immune system lowered its barriers and cold symptoms rose up from the depths.
Day after day David wrestled with his unease as we both attempted to relax in a place where it seems one is constantly exposed to the elements and the gritty surfaces that make up a major city. The streets are narrow, the cars practically drive on the sidewalks when there are sidewalks, the scooters and motorcycles actually do drive on the sidewalks and weave maniacally between pedestrians, cats and dogs. At no point does it seem like you are supported by the comfort of a cozy sofa. At no point are your feet elevated. At no point can you stop watching your back for approaching motorized vehicles that seem to leave no air cushion between your soft, vulnerable body and their metallic, lethal exteriors.
We relocated for a few nights to a nice little hotel to have more privacy and comfort while David endured his cold. The decision to move out of the hostel was expedited when David awoke in the night to Austin very strangely and lightly patting him along his legs and torso. Looking over to see Austin fast asleep, David flung the blankets off himself in a sick haze of terror. While at the hotel Austin became ill with some kind of food borne illness or stomach flu and joined David at the sick party. We recovered enough to join several friends for dinner on our final night in Istanbul. It was a really nice evening that helped to redeem our city sickness.
We left the City of Cats 5 days ago on a bus bound for Bulgaria. After 9 hours and a border crossing that was only momentarily concerning (after some confusion stemming mainly from an absolute lack of shared language and questioning whether he had overstayed his visa, border patrol ultimately allowed David to exit Turkey) we arrived in Sofia where we are staying in a little guesthouse. The city center is very small and walkable (the cars even yield to pedestrians!) and has a spacious feel. We are told that a giant mountain is visible down the main street of town when the skies are clear.
The Bulgarian language is written using the Cyrillic alphabet, which looks a bit alien at first. We can’t read anything, which makes menus and grocery stores a bit like a mystery grab-bag but so far everything has been edible. David is also happy to put the days of Nescafé behind him, as espresso abounds and “real” coffee is ours again!
Despite the pervasive feeling wherever we go of not knowing what to do in new places since we don’t tour the main sites, we actually had a very clear reason for coming to Bulgaria. More on that in the next installment of Fodenvensel Studios!