Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Kells Visit: Istanbul

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We're currently enjoying a lot of nothing after a road trip to Istanbul and Bozcaada with Mike's sister, Kelly.  After our last visit to Istanbul with Jason (here and here), we were much better prepared and organized when it came to planning out the sight seeing and knew where to stay in order to maximize the city.

Our first day was mainly driving since it's about 7 hours from our house in Izmir to the outskirts of Izmir.  Factor in another HOUR AND A HALF to get into the city and you've got yourself a full day of driving and a somewhat grumpy Mike.  We wanted to drive so that we could stop and see some of the sights along the way, as well as stop on the way home.

Driving in Turkey is tough.  First, there are random road blocks (read: goats crossing) that you have to stop for suddenly on the highway after going 60+ mph.  Then, Google Maps will decide to cut 5 minutes off of your driving time by taking you down a winding road, which actually adds 25 minutes to your driving time.  And finally, there are not a lot of places to stop along the way for necessities like the bathroom or lunch.  The luxuries of having fast food or even gas stations every couple of miles were left in the United States.

When we were driving, we saw a Burger King about an hour into our trip.  Even though it was too early to stop for lunch, we were set on having it for lunch that day because the thought of having Kofte (Turkish lunch) for another meal was nauseating. Burger Kings aren't that rare and we usually see them every couple of hours when we're driving.  Well four hours later and well into my Hangry (hunger induced anger) state, there was no Burger King to be found.  We boarded the ferry with hopes that there would be food.  Sure enough, there was. Lots and lots of Kofte.

Driving did have some perks though.  We got to take the ferry....

and drive over a bridge that connects Asia and Europe.

After eight and a half hours of driving and a few stress-induced arguments over navigation, we finally arrived at our Air BnB.  I thought Mike might kiss the ground he was so happy to get there. We had never stayed at an Air BnB before, but since we had Kelly, we figured it might be more economical than renting two hotel rooms.  So, when we pulled up, the little old man who was the building super greeted us and gave us the keys to the apartment. From the way he talked, it sounded like this apartment was solely rented out for people like us.  He knew the routine. He also thought Mike's name was Robert (Mike's middle name), so he proceeded to call Mike Robert for the entirety of our stay. I told Mike I'm going to start calling him Robbie.  He didn't seem too thrilled. 

Kelly was flying in around six, but she was flying in to the airport on the completely other side of town.  We knew there was no way we'd be able to pick her up (even the thought of getting back in the car put a look of rage on Mike's face), but there were easy directions from the airport to the Air BnB, so she texted us when she landed and let us know she was on her way.  What we didn't realize was that it would take her three hours in rush hour to cross the city.   By the time she got to us, she was pretty exhausted and I don't blame her. 

While we were waiting for Kelly, Mike (or should I say Robbie) and I grabbed dinner at the restaurant that is rated #1 on TripAdvisor in Istanbul.  It was pretty good, although I don't know if it deserved to be number one.   Kelly finally arrived and we dropped off her stuff before going out for a drink and late dinner. 

I think all of us slept very well that night after a long day of travelling. 

"If I ever suggest driving to Istanbul again, please slap me." -Mike as we're sitting in traffic trying to get into Istanbul