I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Trip to Turkey Part 2

Japanese tourists in front of the Blue Mosque
We arrived in Istanbul yesterday afternoon, and I've already been walking on the streets to see the Blue Mosque (above) and eaten in a local restaurant. And then we came back to the hotel and waited until 8:00pm to begin an evening session of the writing group. As a creature of the morning, this didn't work well for me, and I was glad when we stopped by 9:30pm. We will work all day today (Sunday), and then Monday we will have a tour of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. The day will end with a trip to the Grand Bazaar.

And then I'll take a taxi Tuesday morning to Atatürk Airport and fly to Amsterdam, with a connecting flight to Seattle. Finally a three-hour-long bus ride back home to Bellingham by evening. I will be so happy to be back into the routine of my life, I can't tell you. I've learned quite a few things during this adventure.

The first lesson is that I don't ever want to work again. I don't have my mind in the right place any more, and I freely admit that I have been basically useless to Mickey and thought that at least here in Istanbul I could join the writing team and contribute something. But frankly, it seems that I am only counting the hours until it's over. I thought it would be like riding a bike, that I wouldn't forget how, but all I've really learned is that I've changed. My priorities have changed, and wordsmithing a document I don't care about is just a task to be completed.

It's very cold here in Istanbul, but still there are many groups of tourists, such as the one in the picture above. On the right-hand side of the picture you can see benches that are usually filled with tourists during the high season, and all I can say is I'm glad I'm not here during that! Just now I began to hear the first Call to Prayer from the mosque, which occurs five times a day. This one is just before dawn, which is kind of nice from a distance. When we were walking around right under the loudspeakers yesterday, it wasn't so nice and I could hardly wait for it to be over.

At least here in Istanbul at a three-star hotel (instead of a fancy five-star one like before) I feel as though I am in a foreign land. Since I am finally over jet lag, I think I will enjoy tomorrow's tour, but the truth is that I can hardly wait to get home. Most of the people here are very nice, and it's obvious that they have developed a relationship to the tourists that includes hawking their wares and bargaining with us, but basically ignoring us otherwise. Did you know that Istanbul has a population of 15 million? I didn't, but now that I am here, I can believe it. Even now in midwinter, people crowd the streets.

You see every kind of dress imaginable, but with the cold weather everyone is bundled up. I would estimate that about 10% of the women wear head scarves, but not the hijab. I don't think I have seen any woman yet in a burka on the street, although it's obvious which women are observant Muslims because they are dressed in dark long dresses along with their head coverings. Basically we are all jostling each other as we make our way up and down the main street.

Our hotel is adequate, although after I finish this post I will try to take a shower and see how that works. One of our group said the water in his shower varied from very hot to very cold, and he was on his way to the desk to see if he might get it fixed. I enjoyed the food I ate yesterday, and I look forward to going out and exploring the area a little more, given my limited time in this ancient city. Everywhere there are ruins from the past, and I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow that will show what Istanbul is like today.

I have seen little to no evidence of the war raging in Syria, except for a couple with a baby begging on the main street, with a sign in English saying they are refugees from the war. Of course I gave them money, but I couldn't help but feel a stab in my heart for the awful war and all those displaced by it. There are many feral cats in Istanbul, too, but they look a lot scruffier than the ones in Antalya. There are also a few large stray or feral dogs wandering the streets. Nobody seems to care about them, and they look half-starved and it pretty much broke my heart to see them. This is not an easy place to live, I suspect, whatever kind of animal you are.

Another lesson I've learned on this trip is that the entire universe of bloggers have become a virtual family that I can feel even while I am here in this place. I have been able, because of the internet, to continue to read most of the blogs I follow, and I've gotten comments on my own posts from all around the world. I see the names of you all and I feel a warm fuzzy feeling of happiness that you are there, somewhere, along with me on this journey. Almost daily I've been able to video chat with Smart Guy, and it really helps to keep me connected with my real life. This is just a short interlude, one that has taught me that I've moved on, and that my life in Bellingham is full and meaningful.

And now the sun has arisen over the ancient city, and it's time for me to take a shower and begin my day. I remember that although it's dawn on Sunday morning here, you will be able to see this post on Saturday evening in the US, Valentine's Day. It continues to boggle my mind that I am able to travel back and forth in time, so to speak. So, from the future, I send you my most sincere greetings from Constantinople! Until next week, when I'll have traveled back to my comfy home, be well.


Rita said...

If you learned a lot about your life and what you truly love then this trip is priceless. It has been fun to see where you have visited and what you have eaten--but most of all how you have felt about the trip and the people and the starving dogs. I will be glad to see some more, but more glad when you are home safe and sound back with your sweetie and all your hiking, trail blazing, and coffee drinking friends. Have a safe trip back in time! :)

Gigi said...

Trips like these do open our eyes and teach us a lot. And although you are having a grand adventure, I'm sure you can't wait to get home. Safe travels.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are there to tell us what it is like. You are very honest about your self-assessment regarding your inability to work anymore. Maybe, it's because the subject doesn't interest you.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Greetings to you in Istanbul. It is about 5:30 am, Sunday morning, in Seattle, so about 3:30 pm in Istanbul. I just opened up the computer and thought I should follow my usual Sunday routine and check out Eye on the Edge to discover that, yes, you pubished right on schedule despite being half a world away. You are a most reliable blogger! :-) I am thoroughly enjoying your description of your trip. I suspect that your perception of things is much like mine would be if I were there in your shoes. I hear you about not wanting to work again and writing is just another task to get done. While some folks have suggested that I go to some foreign part of the world and teach English, I can see through your experience it probably isn't as easy as it might seem. Now, you mentioned being over the jet lag. It does take nearly a week doesn't it? Your description of walking around there in Istanbul ... wow, it does sound very crowded. And yes, I can sure see why you'll be glad to be home in Bellingham. :-) Thank you for taking the time to share your trip experiences. I sure enjoyed it. Have a safe journey home and I will be looking forward to reading Eye on the Edge next Sunday. John

CrazyCris said...

Sounds like the trip has been a bit of a learning experience about yourself as well as about a foreign country. Must be an interesting awakening DJan!
My dad had a similar "no more work" moment about a year or so ago (I don't remember when). He took an early retirement from the Foreign Service at 50, and has had several more or less interesting jobs since then (including having his own company for a few years). He was never ready to be retired. And then all of the sudden, he was. Just like that.

It's great you'll get to visit the two mosques! But a pity you can't see anything else... I hear Topkapi Palace (of the Sultans) is amazing.

ENJOY your final day and BON VOYAGE home! Hugs!

Rian said...

Hi DJan, it's about 8am here in Texas - so I guess it's evening there? I just got up and am enjoying your blog with my morning coffee. I hope you can read this as it looks like my type is running out of ink... can this happen on a computer? Anyway, I agree with you about not wanting to work anymore. We have *moved on*. Travel is such a learning experience, but I can see that you'll be happy to be home again soon. Take care, my friend.

The Furry Gnome said...

Hi DJan, your are a most reliable blogger! Thanks for continuing your posts, and for your comments. It's interesting what you've learned. I thought I'd do some writing to follow up on my years of research when I retired, but I found quickly that I was just no longer interested. You can't move back; you need to move forward in life. So I've almost totally forgotten work, and buried myself in new things - like blogging! Still, it's very interesting to hear about your trip, a great opportunity to see some amazing places.

Red said...

You may not know it but you are having a great time on this trip. Yes, it's pretty hard to get your head back in the game when the motivation isn't there. I would have a hard time to go back in the classroom as it's not only we who's changed but also the kids. You are certainly getting a good chance to see all the sites.

Linda Reeder said...

Good afternoon to you, good morning to me. I'm on my usual later Sunday morning routine, looking to see what you have to say before I get going on my day.
I'm recovering from a very busy day yesterday with the grand kids at Seattle Center.
I couldn't work any more either. When I worked, I worked with passion. That passion is gone, and I find being under any one else's control just annoying. I love my freedom too much. I am not even good at sitting through a lecture or class or presentation for an hour because usually the topic is only mildly interesting.
On the other hand, I do still love traveling, when I can set my own agenda, of course. I will be interested in your "tourist" day. I did find the hawkers in the bazaar in -now I can't remember the name of the port- very annoying. Having it crowded will help there. we were all alone at the time we "shopped".

Pippa said...

Hi Djan! When you first told us about your trip to Turkey, I was so excited! For you of course, but also (selfishly) for me, as I've always wanted to go there and doubt it will ever happen now. I am sorry you are not enjoying the "work" part - although I kind of expected you wouldn't - but I also get the feeling you are not enjoying the trip itself as much as you might have. You are focused on getting home; I get that. From what you say (and don't say), I think your time for adventures of this sort are over and you have all you need in Bellingham, WA! I must get there one day, because it sounds lovely. I thought at the beginning you had said you would be gone two weeks, but it appears you will be back home this week, making your trip about a week and a half? Part of your ambivalence about this trip may be that you've had a hard time adjusting to the time difference and for such a short time, too! Well, I am so glad you have blogged and taken pictures and let all of us experience your trip with you! It occurs to me, now, that I too am anxious for you to get home and resume your life with Smart Guy, the hiking pals and coffee shop friends. Life, as you love it, will be back to normal before you know it. But, oh what a wonderful experience you had...and given us! Thank you (and take some more pictures ;-) )!

Arkansas Patti said...

Ha, like you I am a morning person and probably would have pulled a Ruth Bader Ginsburg at that evening meeting.
It is good to learn that retirement is what is for you. I think we all wonder that after leaving the work force.
The poor people and the hungry strays would have gotten to me also. It is true, we need to see how others live to really appreciate what we have in the good ole USA. Flawed? Yes, but better than most.

Far Side of Fifty said...

There is no place like home! It is below zero here again with -20 to -35 windchills...I would like it warmer outdoors. Yet we are snug and comfy for the day and our dog is well fed. Much to be thankful for at home. Safe travels this week, it will be good for you to get back home and get rested up:)

Jazbriz said...

The Blue Mosque is on my 'must visit' list, hopefully next year! I am enjoying your adventure with you.

Judy said...

Have enjoyed your blogs and your pictures.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

"My priorities have changed,"

That says a great deal, DJan. I know, for me, mine have changed as well. Age does that to us. I am glad that you've had the opportunity to see a part of the world you haven't and next time will go without the hurdles of this one. That you'll go for fun.

Sometimes we need to do things like this to figure out just what we do want. Sounds like you've done that. Welcome home.

#1Nana said...

Your trip sounds so interesting. I, on the other hand, am getting ready to leave for a middle of the night shift at the warming station. Today I worked in the garden...in the sun! Tomorrow we're planing root crops. It's very early, but it's getting warmer. No grand adventures for me, so I have to get my thrills reading your posts. Safe travels.

Linda Myers said...

It's not that you can't do what you used to do. It's that you've got another life now. You might not have realized that otherwise without this "work trip" for Mickey.

Traveling mercies on your way home.

R. J. said...

Thanks so much for taking time to detail your travels in such an interesting way. You could never be useless, even though your job was in the past. Your writing is so descriptive and full of all the details I enjoy reading. I'm sure that you can do anything you are motivated to do. I can relate to the feeling that the past is the past and I am finished with that part of my life. It is good to feel that one has done well and that work season of life has moved on. The joy of retirement is a new season that we get to craft for ourselves to enjoy the things that appeal to us. Good traveling with you.

Deb Shucka said...

What a grand adventure you're having! Isn't it interesting how travel teaches us things about ourselves and our lives we need to know and can't necessarily learn until there's a certain distance from which to view them. Safe travels home.


What a long and wonderful post about your trip. Not sure I could have lasted on that 30 hr. trip. The most I'm doing this year is a trip to NYC. Maybe a few other short trips. Lucky you to be there and absorb the culture. We grow each time we step into a place such as Istanbul. God bless for safety during your travels. Thank you for sharing this. Loved. Hugs, Barb

Tabor said...

A nice trip to take vicariously. Enjoying your perspective. I hope to go someday!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello greetings and good wishes.

Very interesting write up about Istanbul. I feel sad for the refugees. They are innocent and they have lost everything they had and reduced to beggary for a living.

Enjoy your visit to Istanbul.

Best wishes

Glenda Beall said...

"You're a better man than I, Gunga Din." Remember that poem? You are a better traveler than I, DJan. I have no desire to go out of the country except possibly to Ireland, but it is not likely I'll ever do that. Long flights are hard on me, physically, and with MCS, hotels can be bad for me. Canada seems to be the best country outside the U.S. for me. I do enjoy reading about your trip and learning about the country. Thanks.