Istanbul-Bound!! - Turkish Thanksgiving Day 1 and 2

Wednesday, November 21st and Thursday, November 22nd

We might need to go back to the beginning for this one...

In the middle of September, Adele and I noticed a sale fare to Istanbul. There wasn't too much of a thought to it. We've seen multiple sale fares to various parts around the globe. We can't go everywhere. Yet. But that sale fare was tempting. And persistent.

I looked a little closer one time. Between Christmas and New Year. It was $300 higher than the sale fare. The price was just a bit far out of our grasp. On September 20th, the stars all aligned.

The day started with a bit of They Might Be Giants. As I left Union Station and began the walk to the office, I heard "Istanbul, Not Constantinople" on the iPhone. As I listened, I texted Adele and said it was "a sign." Early in the workday, she e-mailed me to say the Thanksgiving flight was a little over $500 round trip. That's where shit got real. We had a few back and forth e-mails where the phrase, "We're really going to do this??" was used. A few times. By 1030a, we not only had taken the days off of work, but we found a third traveler. Sophie was totally in. All we had to do was buy the tickets. A bit of group texting and Facebook chatting that evening and we all had tickets. We were going to Turkey. Over Thanksgiving. The hilarity was not lost on us. Or anyone else.

Adele went straight into planning-mode. I wanted to, but had a few other trips in the works. And apparently, my brain has had a bit of a block when it comes to planning this year. I always dig planning, but I think I have too many trips in my brain that I can't focus too hard on anything. Which is kind of good to know for the future...

The trip hit a bit of a snag a few days before we left when Sophie had a bit of a medical emergency. We waited for a few days until the doctor gave her the final word. The day BEFORE we were to leave. The doc said she could not travel. Noooooooo!!!!! That was the worst thing. I mean, it's better so Sophie can be healthy, but come on!! So were traveling for three people instead of two this time. This time...

I also realized I needed to stop apologizing about the fact that I'm going on this trip. I didn't notice what I was doing until the last few days.

"Are you doing anything fun for Thanksgiving??"

*sheepishly looking down while shrugging shoulders* "Yeah, I'm going to Istanbul for the weekend."

Apparently I am subconsciously aiming for nonchalant and no big deal, but I started thinking about it...this trip is a big deal and I should be outwardly happy and excited about it as I am inwardly happy and excited about it. Yeah, I've had several overseas trips this year. It's been a very fortunate and lucky year. And I'm gonna take advantage of every possible trip I can wrap my grubby (though fantastically manicured) little mitts on. And if anyone has a problem with that, they can stop reading now.

Now that I got that out of my system...

I had barely unpacked from the last trip to Orlando, so the suitcase was still out and half the crap in there needed to stay there. I had decided (based on Adele and Sophie's original decision) that I would go with the carryon luggage. We weren't going to be away for that long. I grabbed the space bags from Mom (first time I've used them since South America) and shoved the clothes into the bags, then into the luggage. I texted Adele on the last packing day to let her know that I would be wearing the same clothes on the plane during every fight. There and back. And I was planning to wear the same black cardigan at least two days. We were only going to be there for 4 days (6 if you include travel days on both ends of the trip). She said she didn't mind. I wasn't too concerned if she did mind...

The biggest concern for me wasn't the flight or finding our way around in Istanbul (though this is a concern as I feel like I haven't prepared enough on that front). Nope. The biggest concern was getting to the airport and finding parking. It's Thanksgiving weekend. One of the biggest travel weekends known to man. But luckily, the drive was a breeze, and the parking...abundant. Which doesn't make a lick of sense, but who cares?? I was easily able to find a spot. And I met up with Adele (who also got to the airport early and easily) with tons of time to spare before our flight.

Our trip was on KLM. It's the first trip with them and they really didn't disappoint. The seats were roomy. The entertainment choices were plentiful (enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom, really hated Total Recall). The food was...well, also plentiful. Airlines do want to keep you well fed on international flights. And they don't give you the stink eye when asking for the second (small) bottle of wine.

The only problem was the idea of sleeping. We flew out in the 4p hour, so even after we had dinner and drinks, it really wasn't time to sleep. By the time we landed at 7a, it was only 11p in Chicago. I didn't take any substantial nap and I was just starting to get tired. That was a bad scene as we wandered in the Amsterdam airport. We had a breakfast, so that helped a little, but by the time we were boarding the flight to Istanbul, we were both exhausted. It made me come to the realization that I have lost all ability to function when overly tired. That's not going to work well when Adele and I finally get on The Amazing Race. I popped a few Aleve into the mix and I was asleep before we even took off from Amsterdam. That helped when we landed.

We had picked up our Visas from the Turkish Consulate a few weeks ago, so we didn't have to wait in the Visa line. We quickly moved through the Immigration line, grabbed some cash (Turkish Lira!!) and made our way to the Metro. The Metro is connected to the airport. And the airport line ends across the street from our hotel. Yay, us!! As for the hotel...I'll explain the hotel later. My eyes are starting to shut here.

After we got to our hotel/apartment, we cleaned ourselves up a bit, then decided to find out what the food was all about in Istanbul. One word...

Dude.

Dude!! The food is incredible!! Adele had had most of these foods before, but they were just so flavorful. There was a rice dish I could have eaten all day long. There was a dish where Adele and I stopped eating midway through, because we wanted that to be our last bite. It also introduced us to Turkish Tea. Pretty good, but I don't know if I'd drink it often. While I'm here though...

We're trying to decide what to do tomorrow. Or at least at what time. We are fading really fast...

Hello, Istanbul!!



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