An Istanbul Affair to Remember

I wasn't kidding about all the cats.
Six months ago, I told Andrea we’d meet (“honeymoon”) in Paris. Late June, in a frantic “I can only be in most of Europe for a collective 90days max with my visa, and I just booked flights 122 days apart from each other” panic, I bought a $97 Barcelona-Istanbul plane ticket on my cell phone at 1a.m. Honeymoon in Istanbul, we called it.

What a cool, cool choice that was.

Yesterday was the first day I think we were together anxious/angsty/homesick for people at home. The fact we’ve got things to send to the states and a trek around town only told us post offices are closed for holiday for a week and Fedex locations just don’t exist (nor really work for things like postcards) played into feelings of being far, far away.

Afternoon is hot and humid. The siestas were not left in Spain. After our nap, we decided to have a comfortable, like-home, night. Yes, it included a Starbucks splurge (dont judge, you cant tell me Turkish coffee does the trick, it’s not like I’m sippin Starbucks in Italy), and going to see Harry Potter.

I'd made this wordplay earlier in the day, then found this place. Life's weird that way.

We arrive at the theater I’d seen Harry Potter 6 at two years ago. The movie posters hang outside. Online, we’d seen a 9p.m. showing. But at the ticket counter, “Harry Potter?” is met with “no.” It’s not there. We look at each other. Mr. Popper’s Penguins? Sure! “Penguins?” we ask. “Is the talking in English? Turkish subtitles?”

“Screen two is English.” Okay!!!

Except wait. A glance as she plugs in our ticket order- looks like penguins are in five and six, but…

And that is how we almost ended up with two tickets to the Green Lantern.

We leave the movieplex and agree a stroll around town at night would be great.

Great was an understatement.

It’s the end of Ramadan. The Blue Mosque is lit up like Cinderella’s Castle. Food vendors, artisans, performers are out. Children are watching two male puppets fight in a puppet show- we have no idea what is being said, but you know it’s good because the kids would alternate yelling out “yeah!!!!!!!” and “no!!!!” so you would hope the good guy was winning.

The Blue Mosque

It was beautiful. And as we strolled, we talked about how crazy it is we’re both in Istanbul, and on a night like this. So far from the $2 burgers at Chucks we bonded over every Monday.

We look around for dessert. Something cheap, but maybe something with a view. Plus, something sit-down always includes a bathroom. One you can sit-down in as well- we’re not big on the public stalls of just porcelain holes in the ground.

Somehow, we got ourselves ushered up five flights of stairs to the ritziest restaurant in Istanbul, on its rooftop terrace. To my left, the Blue Mosque. Behind me, the Hagia Sophia. And there are candles and mood lighting. We are far, far too backpacking scummy to be at this restaurant.

But, forgetting the obscene amount we paid for heart-shaped desserts, there was nowhere else we should have been last night. Though it looked like a date, it was just two very happy girls discussing life, once again, on their best-friend honeymoon in Istanbul. Our waitress, Giselda, went to take a picture of us. Raises then lowers the camera, laughs. “Your smiles.”

Giselda was the best.

There are so many places I want to be and miss right now, but last night, we were in the right place. A brand new experience… And a pretty stellar one.

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