Good Luck and Good Planning
It was such good luck that our friend had a conference scheduled in Turkey right at the same time we planned to be here, and decided to make it a family affair. Of course we had been in planning mode for months, but having one of our favorite families, with a friend for each of us, make the trip across the Atlantic threw us into high gear. The kids were in a frenzy of anticipation, counting down the days.
But first, we had to get to Turkey, which we did by taking a short ferry from Kos, Greece to Bodrum. We had some hours to kill at the Bodrum bus station, and thank goodness for that because we fell head over heels for the ice cream man of the Bodrum bus station, who wowed us with his ice cream tricks. I had read about Turkish ice cream, which is famously stretchy and melts more slowly than regular ice cream thanks to the addition of mastic, a tree resin and salep, a starch that comes from the tubers of orchids. I read that over time these ingredients are being replaced by less expensive gums and stabilizers which was certainly the case with this stuff, but it didn’t matter. I was heartbroken when I botched the video of Della getting her ice cream, but here is a video of someone else so you can get the idea. No other ice cream man since has come close to taking his place in our hearts.
Also in Bodrum, we got our first taste of what was to come for Miles as a blond haired, blue eyed boy in this land- lots of cheek pinching, high fives and hair ruffling. He has taken it all pretty well, I must say. I’m glad we warned him in advance that he might attract attention (thanks John Higham!) We are the first to admit he is darned cute, especially when he’s wearing his backpack, and have not been the least tempted by offers to trade him or otherwise leave him behind (all made in good fun, I think?)
From Bodrum we took a bus to Selçuk, for a tour of ancient Ephesus, Greek and Roman ruins on an incredible scale. Having seen our first Roman ruins in Barcelona, followed by Rome, Athens and Delos, we’ve had a good lesson on the extent of the Roman Empire, but also, we are suffering ruin fatigue. It’s terrible but there you go. Ephesus was grand, but I was so happy to get to Istanbul via bus, train and a ferry across the Marmara Sea, ready to experience a whole new flavor of empire.
Istanbul did not disappoint, with its mosques and minarets, the lovely Bosphorous, carts selling sesame rings and pomegranate juice and fisherman hanging off the bridge over the Golden Horn. We stayed in Beyoglu, a short tram ride away from the major sights- the Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar- yet with a neighborhood feel. Our friends joined us here, staying in the apartment on the floor above us (good planning!) and we would like to apologize to all the other people from the building because it was mayhem. We had a week of sightseeing, which included the big sights and a few smaller ones. The girls got to enjoy an afternoon at the hamam, we had a hilarious sitting at a photo studio that specializes in Ottoman style costumes, drank çay, cruised the Bosphorous and ate way more baklava from this place than was healthy.
Then we packed up and flew to Antalya (for that conference) and there it rained. Miles had a fever. The baklava wasn’t as good. You can’t win them all. The Vivaldi playing garbage trucks were pretty great though and a few hours of sun allowed for some impromptu beach frolicking and frisbee.
From Antalya we parted ways, our friends back to work, school and normal life and us going on with whatever you call this. We came here to Cappadocia for our last five nights in Turkey (more about this dramatic area later from another author!) I suppose we’re technically in Asia now, but I still think of this as the end of our European chapter. Six weeks in Asia stretch between now and Christmas in Australia, and the pace will be quicker- Dubai, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysian Borneo and Bali await and I am as excited now to see them as I was before we left home. That’s a good sign, isn’t it?