Somewhere in the past five days we flew to day five in Istanbul. Does that make sense? That’s how it feels, anyway.
Istanbul 2011 trip is different from Istanbul 2009. Quieter. I’m much less nervous. I quite enjoy sitting down to lunch with a waiter who calls Andrea and I “Shakira and Jennifer (Lopez).” Our days have been spent being tourists, sightseeing, haggling in the Grand Bazaar (“Spend your money, please, I need money, I want to get married”) talking, spending low-key time in our honeymoon suite. Sleeping until too late, staying up laughing until the morning call to prayer is heard throughout the city.
Andrea and I travel SO well together. We’re on the same budget, we want to do the same things. And when we don’t, that girl is just fine going into the palace museum while I fall asleep on the palace lawn and get to watch a snuggling couple get the midday sprinklers turned on them. We both like afternoon naps, we both like Skyping each other’s friends and we both quite enjoyed karaoking “Truly Madly Deeply” at midnight in a Taksim Square bar after my miming “the big ones” got us obscenely large .7L beers the size of our faces.
We’ve had our share of mishaps and adventures. The Topkapi stop? Not where the Topkapi Palace is. Actually, about four miles and twenty minutes past it. Also good, trams that reverse direction mid-trip. “Uh, hey Andrea…” And waiter, I’m no dummy, I can do math, I’ll take that five in change you still owe me.
We laugh a lot. We laugh until we cry, a lot. We picnic with the hostel’s cats. We both kinda smell like we need to do laundry, and we’ve accepted that.
Today, just outside the city center, we stopped to grab our daily lunch of doner kabobs. A woman stopped to talk to us. She’s Turkish, but comes here this time from Canada. She is Muslim but married to a Christian man, and tells us nowhere in the world do the religions and cultures melt together like Istanbul. Her name translates to “Star,” stemming from her birthday being December 27. She is 47 years old.
Her eyes widen at our travel plans. She tells us to stick together, be careful, have fun. She tells us to check out the Turkish men. “I am married, I cannot. You are young.” (you can look! We say) “Who wants to look?? I want to eat them up! They are just so good! And you can be skinny, fat, blonde, brown, it doesn’t matter they will love you. Nowhere in the world are the men like here. They didn’t used to, but now, they respect women.”
“And listen to me girls, let me tell you, when you pick one you want to marry, you have to do this. Watch him with his mother. Because, the way he takes care of his mother, that’s the way he’ll take care of you.”