Carla and Ted's Turkiye Travel Blog 2008

"I have not told half of what I have seen."                       
Marco Polo

May and June 2008.
Ted, Carla, and Laura are in Istanbul.
Istanbul Travel Tips page is now it's own site. It's simply gotten too big. We've gathered so much information that you don't find on the regular travel sites.
*note: the oldest blog entries are at the
bottom of the page.*

June 12-Adding the last 2 video clips. Sorry I'm not Cecil B. DeMille, but I did like having my little video cam along. This first video is just a walk through the neighborhood below Sultanahmet. There are alot of nice old Ottoman houses there, and some beautiful mosques. You can also find the walls of the hippodrome. Most people walk through the middle of the hippodrome and think that those obelisks in the middle of the park are all that's left. But, the old walls are still holding up the hill at one end. There are building all over the top of the walls, and you have no clue unless you  walk down into the neighborhood below the Blue Mosque. There are holes that you can almost get into. It's frustrating. I wonder if they're afraid to excavate. The whole neighborhood above could slide right down.

Note- Yahoo Video has shut down it's video sharing service and so, all video on this page was lost. I will find another service and upload soon. Sorry.

The guy you hear yelling is selling brushes from a wagon. There are lots of guys that pull wagons up and down hills, crying their wares. Junk men, vegetable or bread sellers. Women will lower baskets on strings from their windows to receive these goods. The first time I saw a basket go past my apartment window, I was so tickled. Little tiny slices of local life that you don't get in a hotel.
The second clip shows a beautiful mosque with a quiet tea garden and artist's shops in the courtyard. There's also a nice cemetary. You can see some old turban headstones.
The video goes on to show another mosque in the area. It had a couple of cool features. For one, there are ostrich eggs set high in the tile wall. They say this keeps spiders out. There are also some small, beautiful marble columns set into the wall that are seemingly decorative. But, as Bob showed us, they turn freely. If, one day, you find that they do not turn, you will know that something has happened to the structure of the walls. This is important, as they are holding up alot of dome. One more wonderful feature was 3 small pieces of the Kaaba in Mecca.
As we walked up the hill, we saw the ruins of a mosque that was overgrown. We sure would love to see that preserved and maybe turned into a museum or art center. At the top of the hill, we found ourselves back in Sultanahmet at the far end of the Hippodrome. The last scenes are of the Spice Market and Yeni Mosque.

I've got some pics to add latter today that I will work into the posts below.

June 11- We are home and we are exhausted. We really hated to leave, but by the time you drag your ass through your front door, you are so happy to be home. It's fun to open up all our bags and find the treasures we picked up there. I should take some photos. I really found some beautiful things. One of our bags hasn't caught up with us yet, though. We almost never have problems with lost luggage, but US Air managed to lose a bag on our trip there and our trip back.
You can find "Carla's shop" by clicking here. There's stuff I brought back, some stuff I made, I've got more stuff than I can hang on the walls; some stuff has to go.
We've got alot more hockey stuff set up and hope to be back in the fall. No solid dates yet. Laura, however will definately be back. She loved Istanbul so much that she is moving there in September. She'll be teaching English. She's already got her plane ticket, already rented out her house. Istanbul is like that. Life is so raw and real there. And there is always something fun to do and a million people to do fun things with. The people she met seemed more genuine and simply happy to sit and share tea with you.
June 10- Almost home. Customs at Philly airport is alot nicer than Charlotte. But, they've changed our gate twice now for our last flight home. We've walked so far, I kind of expect to come to a door that opens into Charlotte. Our last days were just a blur of walking all around trying to take in as much as possible, saying our goodbyes, and filling those last cubic inches of luggage space.

June 7- We enjoyed the train ride. The Ankara airport is 50 miles from the main part of the city, and the train is half the price. We got a private compartment with 2 beds and woke up back in Istanbul. I found that I sleep on a moving train about as well as I do anywhere else, even with the stops. The Ankara train station is a cool building. We had a little time to kill before our train left. We were sorry that the Turkish Rail Museum next door was closed. It was in a really nice old building and Ted loves trains. He knows about everything there is to know about them. But, we walked across the street instead to Luna Park, which was kind of deserted and strange. I got video...

We're back in our flat now after a walk through the area behind the Spice Market and dinner with Bob. We ate at Victoria, off Isteklal street. It just re-opened and noone seems to know it yet. We had the place to ourselves. It's in a wonderfull old cellar with a vaulted stone roof. They bring you a tray of appetizer samples, so it's a good place to get your introduction to meze. The staff is friendly, and they often have live music.

June 6- Our last day in Ankara. We'll take the sleeper train tonight back to Istanbul. Then, we'll have sat, sun, and monday to mess around there and say our good-byes.
We spent some more time with Hicran hanim. We talked about her in last year's blog, if you'd like to refer back to it. She's really a special, interesting, and charming person. An older lady who was a teacher, but now dedicates her life to saving the Ankara castle and educating people who come to visit it. She gave me some new booklets she made, and I promised to put them up on the web. I posted her pamphlet last year and sent her a letter telling her the web address. She was very happy about that. If you are ever in Ankara, the place to go is the Ankara Kalesi. Make sure you stand in front of this wall

until Hicran comes out and makes your aquaintance. Make sure you tell her that you read about her on Carla's internet site. I promise you will be charmed.
We spent the rest of our time wandering around the castle. We found an old Ottoman house near Hicran's house that we fantasized about fixing up. It was huge and had the wonderfull woodwork on the ceilings that is typical of the style. Every gorgeous window in it was broken.

Outside the walls are many old Ottoman houses that are now shops. I love the variety of stuff. There are antiques in one shop, sheep shearing gear in the next.
There's one house that's been turned into a tea shop. In the front, there's a narghile shop, next to it a courtyard. You can go in either way. The whole thing is on a few different levels. We had gone in there last year and the owner showed us all around. We had tea and watched ducklings run around. This year, when we walked in, someone leaned over the top balcony yelling, "hey, remember me? You're with Turku, right?" We were not sure we did remember him, but of course, we went up and had tea. Turns out, he met us at the last Turkish Festival in Washington DC. He was a music student of one of the star performers there. He was back in Ankara, and his fiance was showing him around the kale. He'd never been there before, but he spots someone he met briefly in DC last year. Strange for both of us. He had been studying law enforcement there. He was a very high ranking officer in the Turkish national police department. We were glad to have his card. If we ever get in trouble, "here, call my friend!" They were a nice couple.
We took video from the balcony there, catching the call to prayer at the mosque across the street. Then, I went downstairs with the camera, looking in all the rooms. (Tho there's only a brief look at the biggest room with pillows all around. There turned out to be a couple in there smooching.)
The last scene is my chick peas. I'd seen people around with these bundles of plants and never knew what it was. Finally I decided I was missing a Turkish experience and bought a bundle for a lyra off a cart. You just pop the pods open and pull the chick pea out. Tasted kind of like green peanuts, if you've ever had them.

June 3- The clinics are going well. There were even 7 women goalies on the ice today.
We spent the morning at the castle. It's just a wonderfull place. I think I've already bought more stuff than I can fit in my luggage. Ted picked up 7 antique wooden textile stamps that totaled 35 lira. Ted tried to talk the shopkeeper down to 30. He said '35 lira without tea, 30 lira with tea.' So we sat down and he called the tea runner off the street and we had tea. He's an older gentleman named Erol that travels all over to bring back great stuff. I bought a great Turkmen caftan that he was asking so ridiculously little for, that I didn't even haggle. Such a huge difference between Istanbul and Ankara.

Across the street, we recognized the shop of a bead seller that we had visited last year. He had a Kangol puppy that Ted was rolling around with on the floor. Ted really wanted to bring "Buddy" home, but the breed isn't allowed out of the country. They are beautiful shepards, brown, with sweet black muzzles. This trip, Ted walked in and looked around, opened his arms, and said, "Buddy?" The merchant remembered him and laughed, and let Buddy out of the back room. Buddy is huge now, but just as friendly and sweet.

We picked up a map of the castle, and realized that we had missed most of it last trip! Yay! More stuff to see! Can't wait. First, though, we've got to be on the ice in the morning, then lunch with Esra at her favorite restaurant.

June 2- Sorry I haven't been feeling very bloggy lately. We just got to Ankara on the sleeper train. That was fun, Ted loves trains. We had our own little compartment with 2 fold down beds, sink, fridge, and storage. When I woke, there was the Turkish countryside rolling by, pretty farms and lines of trees that marked streams. It was a short taxi ride to the ice rink, and now I'm sitting in the cafe that lines one whole side of the rink. Pretty sweet. I can blog and watch Ted's hockey class and drink lattes all at the same time.
Yesterday, we went to the train station early and put our luggage in a locker. The station is on the Asian side. We walked through the noisy smelly market to çiya, a restaurant that's so popular that they have 3 locations in the same block. You can read alot more about çiya in the travel tips page. Their website is an education in itself. I had a great yoghurt soup. I don't eat yoghurt at home much, but the Turks really know how to make it and use it well.
We've been spotting some interesting hybrid instruments here. We've found a bass guitar that has frets tied on like a saz's strings, at the same intervals; a saz with a soundbox at the top of the neck that looks like a kabak kamençe, a flat saz body with a bass guitar neck and saz frets. Wild stuff. The area around our apartment has a million instrument shops. You can find neon yellow clarinets, dj lighting, and the simplest village noisemakers. Lots of fun to go ratting around in there to see what you come up with.

May 30- Dinner with Bob at the newly re-opened Victoria. Yum. He had two friends in tow, a couple from Madrid. He was a flamenco dancer who had asked Bob to help him buy a musical instrument. He had been refered to Bob by a mutual friend...a Japanese woman that sings flamenco. Ya never know.
On the way there, we spotted two Romani children performing on the street. They were so talented and cute, I got a little video. The video I'm posting tonight also shows a cat sleeping on a pile of evil eye beads that you see everywhere here; the ouside of the blue mosque, and a tiny dolphin swimming in the Golden Horn, stealing fish from the fishermen on the Galata bridge.

Had lunch with Aziz in the bazaar today. He's got a great shop with suzani, carpet, Ottoman coats back in a quiet courtyard. He travels to Uzbekistan to bring back great stuff and sells also to the other merchants in the bazaar. You keep going straight back from the first big gate on Divan Yolu untill you see the sign that says Pedaliza and then turn left and walk till you see stairs that go up on the right. Turn right at the top of the stairs and you will see Aziz's beautiful shop. His English is very good and he won't tell you something is antique when it's not.
Our first day in the bazaar, we went looking for a shop that had great Afghani and Turkmen pieces at good prices. It was gone. So sad. Then today, we found a shop just as good. Then, I realized it was the same guy in a new shop. He remembered not only me, but what I bought from him last year, a beautiful Turkoman pectoral piece. We bought a ton of stuff from him. (Hey Laura, I got 4 of those beaded chokers!)

May 29- We walked today through Cukercuma, a neighborhood known for it's antiques. We didn't buy a thing, but saw all kinds of great stuff. I was looking specifically for the Art Nuevo stove that I mentioned in last year's blog. We couldn't find the shop. We did find lots of old fragments from Ottoman houses, especially the huge ceiling medallions. In the evening, we met Bob on Isteklal to go to a little party we'd been invited to. We'd hardly gone 3 steps before someone called "Bob!" It was a lady that played Kanun that was a good friend of Bob's. She said she was on her way to a grand re-opening party for her restaurant. So, we followed her to that, and it turned out to be one of our favorite restaurants! We had tried to go right after we arrived in Istanbul, but it was closed down. We were sad. So, now, not only is it open again, but we got to go meet the owners and share some yummy party foods and a glass of wine before we headed over to the other party.
That party was at the jewelry makers shop that I mentioned a few days ago. There was a saz player that was the cousin of a friend of Bob's. I swear, everyone knows Bob. The lady that hangs around the shop is a lover of bluegrass music, so we asked Bob to bring his banjo. He's pretty good with that thing. We drank Raki, which I can't stand till about the third time I hit it, and then I start liking it alot better. They call it 'lion's milk'. it's like ouzo. They mix it with water and when the two clear liquids meet, it turns white.

Here's a necklace I bought from a Turkmen gentleman in the Grand Bazaar.

May 28- The Orient Express originally ran from Paris to Istanbul's Sirkeci station. We caught a local train there to the neighborhood of Yedikule, the seven towers. This is a fortress that was built by the Ottomans around the old Golden Gate of the Byzantines. That gate was the main entrance to the city walls. The walls run from the sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn, with watchtowers every so many meters. Some of the watchtowers are beautifully restored, some are crumbling. We walked along the inside of the walls for awhile and went in one tower that looked safe enough. As we walked back along the outside, we saw that there was a small fire in that tower. The city walls turn at the sea, and run along it to the Topkapi palace. It's amazing to go along that section and see the wall in various stages of ruin. Sometimes it's a pile of stone, sometimes, an area has been turned into a charming cafe. (A word of warning to anyone thinking of exploring the walls; many areas are not safe. There are homeless people living in some rooms. An American tourist was killed in January 2013. Use good sense; do not go into spaces in the walls, or on top of the walls. Some areas are best viewed from a distance.)

When we got back to Sirkeci, Bob called and met us at the spice market. We walked beside it where the garden and pet sellers are. We saw bunnies and duckies and chickies and puppies and kittens and leeches. We did not buy them. Instead, we tried some of the fruit and nut stuff we've seen hanging around the spice market. It looks gross and intriging at the same time. Turns out, it was yummy. They call it walnut sausage.

May 26- Well, Laura's gone home. She sure didn't want to go . Just as it did the first time we brought friends here, Istanbul was able to deliver so much more than we had promised. She expected beautiful sites, good music, and great shopping, but not the relationships. She has met so many great people here. Those of you that were wondering where her blog was, I can tell you that she was just too busy being here. Even during our down-time in the apartment, she would just lay on the divan and dig the room and recall her day. I think that when she gets home, she'll be inclined to set it all down. I'm encouraging her to blog about it too.

May 24- We just found the most wonderfull little shop in Beyoglu off Isteklal Caddesi. It's called Eller Art Gallery and it's on Postacilar Sokak. We were enticed by the sign at the end of the street that had jewelry all over it. There's a nice man named Nurhan Acun that has a workshop where he creates replicas of Anatolian art. You should check it out if you're in the neighborhood.
We went exploring with Bob through a Romani produce market. I really wanted to film, but it was one place I didn't want to be an obnoxious tourist. You can't catch the riot of smells with a camera, anyway.
Later, we all met Tuncay for dinner. We had met Tuncay last year in the States. He had come to sell carpets. Such a nice guy. He doesn't have a shop in Istanbul anymore, or I would send you to him, too. He's just moved to San Diego. Look him up if you're there.
Tomorow is Laura's last day here. There's only one thing left on her 'must-see' list and that's a Turkish Bath. Guess we'll go hit that.

On the long street that runs from the back of the Grand Bazaar and the back of the Spice Bazaar, there are many shops that sell textile goods, mostly modern. But there are lots of treasures in that area. I bought this coat there for about $30.
May 23- Our third trip to the Asian side. We went yesterday to visit Bob in his new house in the charming village of Anadolu Hisari. He's got a flat in an old Ottoman mansion on the side of a hill. Come to think of it, all the houses are on a hill. If you aren't on a hill, you're in the Bosphorus. I should have gotten pics of Bob's house, but I did get video of the village.

I also should have gotten video of the feast Bob made for us, too. Jeez, that man can cook. When I get home, I've got to try making this crazy lemonade he made for us. It's got ginger, cucumber, and mint. Definately for sipping.
We walked around the castle near the water. There are two castles opposite each other on the Bosphorus that were built to protect the city. The castle on the European side is much larger than that on the Asian side. The village is just built all around it.

May 22, Wandered aimlessly today, then met Aziz for dinner at a Kurdish restaurant. They hand you skewers of meat, which you pull off with a piece of phyllo bread and add stuff to. There were plates of fresh herbs, salsa-like stuff, grilled tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Pretty good. Then we picked up Bob and his friend Necmi to go to a bar that had a saz player, vocalist, zurna, mey, frame drum, and davul. They were really good and we all danced. Necmi has a very nice site with his photography of Istanbul that you can find by clicking here. That's it, not a very exciting blog today, but the photos on Necmi's site are worth the click; very nice work.

This is a photo of the divan area in our apartment. Great place for a siesta before going back out for the evening.

May 21-Again into the bazaar. We had lunch with Necati, who sells suzani. What a nice man. His English is just a little better than our Turkish, but we managed to communicate just fine. I'm finally getting bold enough to use the Turkish words I know, and it's very satisfying to manage to make myself understood. One thing I'm realizing is that, since we are both speaking a mix of Turkish and English, you first have to figure out which language a word is in, then translate it. So, sometimes I need to hear something twice. We realized on our first trip that even if you use a Turkish word, you might not be understood because the listener is expecting English and won't hear your Turkish. That incident involved a taxi driver. We went up to a group of drivers hanging out, waiting on fares. The guy who was up next stepped up and we told him, 'Yerebatan Caddesi', which was our street. "Huh"? "Yerebatan Caddesi." "Huh?" In unison, all the other drivers said "YEREBATAN CADDESI!"  He was so embarrassed that he drove like a lunatic back to Yerebatan Caddesi.
Anyway, we always head straight to the back of the market for lunch at özlem and for central asian goodies. Necati's shop is the last on the left as you go outside into the courtyard where özlem is. Good Iskender kebap. Sitting there, I noticed a suzani that really wanted to go home with me. This guy's shop was half hidden back in the courtyard. His prices are good. I ended up with an Ottoman coat, the suzani and a silk ikat caftan.
We visited Aziz also and made a date with him to go hear music tomorow night.
I just remembered...when we were at an airport on the way here, I stopped dead in my tracks for a guy crossing ahead of me. He was the tallest human I had ever seen, it was hard to believe anyone could be so tall. He was Oriental. It was Yao Ming. Wow. I hope he's got his own plane, 'cause he certainly wouldn't fit it my seat.

May 20-Finally managed to hook up with our friend Bob on the Asian side for a meal at çiya restaurant. We had meatballs inside apricots on skewers, a stew with meat and plums, lamb stew, yogurt soup. yum. We went through the biggest, most chaotic flea market I've ever been in. It was great. We bought apricots. The government wants to shut it down because they think it's dirty. That would be a shame. It's a big juicy slice of real, raw life. It's swarming with people, shoppers and guys carrying more stuff in. The merchants are yelling/singing about what they are selling. It's a riot of colors and smells.

Yesterday we caught the ferry to Anadolu Kavagi. That's a really nice side trip that I recommend to anyone visiting Istanbul. The old houses on the water are beautiful. At the last port, you get off  at Anadolu Kavagi and have lunch in one of the fish cafes on the Bosphorus. Before you even get off the boat, the fish mongers are waving you over. We walked through the 2 blocks of shops, all of them looking pretty much the same. When we got to the end, we just went into the last shop, right on the water. I'm ready for my first plate of midye tava, fried mussles as tasty as oysters.
After lunch, you can climb up to the ruined fortress at the top of the hill. I'll post video soon, because it tells that story better than I can.
Back in Istanbul, we got off the ferry and hit the area of the spice market. Laura insisted I get video of our juice dude doing juice. He was a pro. I got an 8 ounce glass of fresh squeezed orange/grapefruit juice for about 80 cents. I'm addicted.

Back home, we were too tired to wander far for dinner, so we took a chance at a pretty little cafe at the base of the Galata Tower. We were afraid it might be a tourist trap, but the prices were ok, so we went to check the kitchen. In many restaurants, it's pointless to look at the menu. You go back to the kitchen and look through the glass counter at whatever the cook has going on. I like that. Laura pointed at some soup and asked, "what is that?" The cook said, "good." Ok, gimme some. It was good, a simple, creamy soup with vegetables. Only the Turks can get me to eat vegetables. I may die of an eggplant overdose before the month is out. In just the first week, I've tried about 8 different dishes with eggplant, all of them wonderfull. They even make a dessert with eggplant, but noone has talked me into that yet.

May 19-Here's video of day one, showing one of the fish sandwich boats on the Golden Horn, Laura showing us her first purchase as we sat in a homey restaurant, a good musician and dancing in a saz bar (forgive the darkness of that segment, but the sound is good), and a Black Sea Kamençe player on Isteklal Caddesi.

That really was a sweet little restaurant. They've got ladies in village dress making your bread on the inverted wok-looking thing. She was using a beautiful crescent shaped knife that I was coveting. I ran right out and found one in the kitchen shops behind the spice market. That's an interesting area, with all kinds of funky modern and rustic traditional kitchen wares. We found all kinds of braziers and such.
We went to the Topkapi a couple days ago and I've got some video of that trip. The first bit is an archeological dig in that area. It looks like it will be opened to the public eventually. You can see the walkway over it. Then, there is footage of the Harem and other areas of the Topkapi Palace, followed by scenes filmed just outside the walls at a tea garden, Hagia Sophia, and the old Ottoman houses that have been restored and turned into boutique hotels by the Turkish Automobile Association.

May 18-Went up to the Suleymaniye mosque today just to find it closed for restoration until Sept 2008. Oh well, it was an excuse to have the stew at the shop in the caravansaray. We came back down the Uzun Carsi, where there are lots of kitchen gadget stores. I finally found one of the bread scraper/knives with the crescent shape. Those shops are lots of fun, don't overlook them if you go. The street runs from the back of the spice market up to the grand bazaar.
Crossing the Galata bridge back to our neighborhood, we saw two tiny dolphins swimming around the fishermen's lines, stealing their sardines. I got video. Under the bridge, there are endless fish restaurants and nargile cafes with bean bag chairs. You can sit and look at the water and watch the sardines being hauled up to their crispy deaths. As we walked there, Laura was startled by a sardine flopping around on a bean bag chair. Guess he fell off a line on his way up. I sent him back to take his chances with the dolphins.
Close to home, we stopped at the Dia super market for groceries. It's kind of surreal pushing a shopping cart through there. Such a familiar, mundane action, in such a strange place. We loaded up with Ala Turka Doritos and cherry juice. Yum!
Last night, Laura talked us into doing a nargile. We were pleasantly surprised. We get it now. Ted and I have always been repulsed by cigarettes, so we'd never been interested in trying it. But, if you walk by a nargile cafe, it smells of apples and burning leaves. Kind of pleasant, really. So, we found a comfortable looking place and let the attendant show us how it was done. It was a really sweet night and we just sat there for over an hour, chillin. In a city that is always a beehive of activity, the Turks find ways of creating peacefull oasis. I love it.

May 17- We hit the Grand Bazaar today, so Laura's having a siesta. It can be overwhelming the first time you go, even though we blew past the hustlers near the gates and headed for the quieter back alleys. Alot of first timers step into the bazaar and get buffeted by the shopkeepers near the gates. I recommend that you just walk quickly past them and walk until it eases up. Of course, then you'll be lost ;-)
Yesterday we went to the Topkapi Palace. I got some nice video of the Harem. The first time we went, they didn't allow cameras. As much as they charge, they should allow photography.

This video shows a sweet little courtyard with some shops near the Grand Bazaar, the Theodosius cistern (which is being restored), and the cemetary beside Suleymaniye mosque. Nobody seemed to mind if we just walked right into the cistern, so we did. There are tables with bits of pottery that they've found down there. I guess that when people would lower their jars into the cistern to get water, sometimes they would break before they got back up. So when they drained it to excavate, they found all these pieces of jugs. It's a quick side trip on Pierre Loti Caddesi off Divan Yolu. Watch on the right, or you'll miss it. If you get to the next street, you have.

This is an interesting tile wall in the Topkapi Palace showing tents and lamps.

May 15- All better. We're here now, missing only 1 bag. The flat is too charming. We love our little divan. There are decorative paintings all around most of the walls that look very old. Our view is fantastic on 3 sides. The divan is a little raised area in front of 4 windows. There are pillows and rugs and a little table for our tea and pistachios and apricots. After a walk to the Spice Bazaar we were ready for a nap on it. Now, it sounds like they're doing a sound check for a concert at the base of the Galata Tower. Something to do tonight. Here's a photo of the walls and typical wavy ceiling.

I only bought I thing today, a sewing machine for 2 lira. Looks like a stapler.
We went out to a saz bar after dinner, and then walking home down Istiklal Caddesi, we saw several musicians. I'm so happy that the police stopped chasing them away. There's alot of talent there, and it's an important part of the charm of Isteklal.
They've just finished the renovation of the old funicular railroad that carries you up the hill to Isteklal Caddesi. At the bottom station they've added some nice tilework and there's a tv screen that, for some reason, is always showing a commercial for Istanbul. It is lovely, tho and shows alot of nice shots of the city. You can see it by clicking below.

Tomorrow, we'll be ready to show Laura Topkapi Palace.

May 14- Jeez what a nightmare. All kinds of complications at the airports, all because travelocity sold us an unworkable itinerary. After we bought our tickets, and they mailed them, they told us we needed more time to make our connection in Brussels. It took half a dozen phone calls to customer support staff that barely spoke English to get it straightened out. Still, there's been one problem after another at the ticket counter, gate, and everywhere in between. But, now we are sitting at the last gate for the 3 hour flight from Brussels to Istanbul.

May 10- 3 days til we leave. We just realized that all our travel pages have gotten monstrous huge. Time to kick it out of the nest. We're launching today.
It's going to be even monstrouser and huger.
It will take awhile to get it all reworked and organized. We'll be gathering new info on this trip and adding video.

March 2008- This is torture. Ted got the call to play for a pro hockey team in Ankara this season. They gave him about 3 days to decide. Trouble is, he's been acting as an assistant coach for a local pro team in the hopes of getting the position permanently next season. He's worked very hard to get there and if he leaves, that opportunity will be gone.
It was a very hard decision to stay.
Still, he will do some coaching when we get there in May, and might be able to play with them some. Their season runs later. So, we might be leaving for Ankara as soon as our local team's season ends. Stay tuned for more drama.
Update 3/22- Our team has made the play-offs for the first time in 3 years. Looks like we'll be leaving on schedule mid May.

Feb 2008 - We've booked a flight for mid May and a flat near Galata Tower that looks soooo charming. It's owned by the same people we rented from last year. We were very pleased with the place and Metehan's great service. It was cheaper than a hotel and had everything we needed. We felt like locals. This time, our friend Laura will be traveling with us for the first couple weeks.

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