Friday, September 11, 2015

Kelly's Visit: Leaving Istanbul

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After showing Kelly around Istanbul for a day (read her recap here), we loaded up the car and headed out, but not before a stop at Chora Church. Little did we know, this was the start of Mike's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Everything that seemed to go wrong did go wrong.

Let's start from the beginning with Chora Church. It's located on the outskirts of Istanbul, so it's kind of hard to get to if you don't have a car. When we pulled up, we parked in a parking lot around the corner.  As we were walking up the street, a shoe shiner approached us and tried to direct us to other sights because the church was being restored.  After getting us kind of confused, he told us that the church was just around the corner, which is where we were headed in the first place.  As we were walking away, he asked us if he could shine our shoes (even though we were all we wearing flip flops) and, ultimately, get us to pay money.

We forged ahead and entered the church.  It was gorgeous, as all of the churches in Turkey have been. A lot of it is being restored, so we couldn't see the majority of it, but it will be beautiful once it's all done.

After the church, we got back in the car and were ready to leave Istanbul.  Little did we know, it would take a good hour to get out.  We missed a turn and ended up in a neighborhood with narrow streets that were mostly one way.  We would try and make a loop around a block, only to realize that the neighborhood wasn't laid out in a grid and most of the streets were one way.  At one point, we could see the main road, but the street we turned down ended up being one way. Mike had to reverse uphill, which is not fun, especially when you're on cobblestone streets.  If I thought Mike was frustrated driving into the city, this took it to a whole new level.

When we finally made our way out of the city, it was like the roads opened up and we were cruising.  After an hour or so, we were ready to stop for lunch since it was around noon.  As I've said before, finding food isn't easy on the highway.  First, Turks like to enjoy their hour long lunch break, so fast food isn't really an industry here.  Regardless of what is going on, they will take their hour lunch break to enjoy lunch and tea.  This makes stopping for lunch on a road trip pretty difficult.  We made it to what we thought would be a big city according to Google Maps in hopes of finding a quick restaurant.  As it turned out, it was a pretty small town.  As we drove through, Mike noticed that none of the restaurants had women eating at them.  In the United States, this would probably just be a weird coincidence, but in Turkey, there could be underlying reasons and I was not about to find out why.  We stopped at a gas station to top off and ended up just buying chips to hold us off.  It was less than ideal.

As we continued on our journey, Google Maps got creative with it's route.  We ended up going on these tiny back roads that didn't really save us time.  In fact,  as we were driving down a back road, Google told us to turn right on a road that didn't exist. Thanks Google. You're great.  Not.

After navigating the back roads, we ended up at Galipoli and Chanukkale.  This is where the Australian version of Normandy took place and is like a rite of passage for lots of Australians.  The battle fields are pretty far out of the way though, so by the time we made it there, Mike didn't want to drive the extra 30 minutes to see them.  Instead we just boarded the ferry to take us to the island of Bozcaada.

Luckily, we didn't have much trouble with the ferries.  It was the one thing that really went well for us that day. You have to take two ferries when coming from the north and we made both of them.  Thank goodness.  When we finally made it to Bozcaada, we found our Air Bnb and dropped our stuff off before heading back into town.

We chose to come to Bozcaada this weekend with Kelly because we heard that there was a wine festival this weekend.  As I mentioned in my last wine tasting post,  there are strict laws about alcohol here that make getting information about anything wine related very difficult.  Finding out information about this festival proved near impossible and we had to just hope and pray that it actually existed.

I guess we didn't say enough prayers because when we made our way back to town, there was no festival in sight. Some of the wineries had shops in the little downtown area, so we stopped in to ask them about it. All they said was that the festival was on the streets.  We had seen a few stands selling jewelry and little nick nacks, but nothing even close to a wine festival.

After realizing that this wine festival wasn't really a thing, we decided to do a tasting.  We had done one in Izmir and Bozcaada was full of wineries, including downtown, so we didn't think this would be a problem.  Wrong-O.  We stopped in the wine shop of one of the bigger wineries and asked if we could do a tasting.  The girl behind the counter replied that the president had banned wine tastings in Turkey.  We left completely confused since we had done a wine tasting in Turkey, but were hungry enough that we settled on a bottle of wine with dinner.

I wish this is where it got better.

We found a cute restaurant on a side street that had seating all in the street.   We ordered some mezzes (appetizers), a fish to split and a bottle of red wine.  The wine and mezzes came shortly after were seated and we were happy to be out of the car and with a bottle of wine and food.



cute little street of restaurants and outdoor dining

As we were enjoying the fresh air, I went to reach over to grab some calimari and knocked over my glass of red wine....all over Kelly. It was one of those times where you watch what is happening in slow motion, but can't react fast enough to divert it.

I felt terrible. I would have felt even worse, except that literally two minutes later, Kelly knocked over her glass of wine and ended up breaking the glass (it didn't spill on anyone though).  At that point, Mike was completely embarrassed by the two of us and Kelly and I couldn't stop laughing.  Every time we though we could compose ourselves, we would look at each other and burst into another fit of laughter.

We managed to make our way through dinner without any other spills, although I'm pretty sure Mike never filled our glasses even remotely close to where they were at first, just out of fear.

After dinner, we tried to grab a cab so Kelly could go back and change her clothes before returning to downtown, but there was no cab to be found.  Not at the cab stand. Not driving around town. Nothing.   The bad luck just kept coming.

Kelly finally settled on the fact that she would just have to be covered in wine for the rest of the evening (sorry!!) and we found a bar where we could sit outside and enjoy a bottle of wine.  We were determined to try the wines from this island, even if we had to create our own wine festival. By the time we finished a bottle of wine, we were all exhausted after a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and were ready for bed.  By that time, we were able to find a cab to take us back to our Air BnB.

Overall, the day was pretty much a disaster.  Everything that could go wrong pretty much did.  It was truly a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  Maybe we should move to Australia.