Monday, March 31, 2014

Our Journey to Turkey Begins

Ethan and I are not fully over jet lag from Canada but we didn't let that stop us from getting excited about our trip to Turkey!  Luckily, there is no time difference between Turkey and Saudi so we won't have to battle jet lag at all!!! Our flight out was at 1am so we bathed the kids, put them to bed in their clothes, and woke them up/ loaded them in the car about 11pm.  Excitement was in the air!  We thought the kids would sleep the 45 minutes to the airport but they chatted away the WHOLE time!!  Getting through customs was a breeze (sometimes the long is horrible), and then we found out our plane was delayed by 45 minutes.  Ugh, we could have slept a bit longer!  I guess laying down on the gross airport floor will have to do!
After the 45 minute delay, it was a pretty smooth 3.5 hour flight to Istanbul.  Once we landed, despite the lack of sleep, the kids were running and ready to go!!!
Due to the delay, our hired car was almost 2 hours "late" picking us up so we entertained ourselves in the airport!  First stop, a snack!
Then some sibling loving.
We are always up for a chair massage or two or three.  It was only $0.50 for about 5 minutes!  Who could pass that up?!?!
Lots of pictures.
And some cuddles.  Ok, we were ALL really antsy by the time our car arrived.  But, the good news is, is that it DID arrive and we were finally off!!!  We had hoped to have all morning in Istanbul, we were suppose to land by 6am, but we did get to our flat in time for.....
A cold beer!!!
Goofing off with beer mustaches.  Need to get in a silly mood to shake off the "wasted" time in the airport.  I was so frustrated with the fact that we were wasting time and not out exploring.  Now, looking  back at the pictures, I can see some of the sweet moments we/ the siblings had together that we might not have otherwise.  Note to self- take life's/ travel's ups and downs, there ARE going to be downs, because hidden in all of those moments are #StolenMoments we might not otherwise have!
Our flat is beautiful and in a non-touristy area.  This meant that we got to stroll the streets and try to find something on our own.  Not everyone speaks English, it is actually hard to find someone who does, so this is our first real experience out of our comfort zone with navigating a new country with limited common language.  Despite that, we found an amazing outdoor area for lunch!!!!  The heater was on above us, there were blankets on the chair to cover up with, and the food was amazing!  We loved being outside and being together!!!  It has been a rough month both personally and professionally so this getaway was much needed!!!  I have been wanting to visit Turkey for a long time and it was hard to believe we were finally here!!!  I just looked at Brad and we kept saying, "I can't believe we are here!"  Not only here as in Turkey but also here as in this stage of our live and living our dream!  Sitting back and enjoying it all!
We went back to our flat and had a great nap!  We ALL needed it after our busy morning/afternoon!  Shortly after our nap, Opa and Nina arrived!  We toasted our adventure with an Effes beer (local beer of Turkey) and set out to see what there was to see in our little area of Istanbul.
Opa handed out spending money before we left!!!  Too bad he handed out Euros and most places won't accept Euros in Turkey!   Either need to pay in Turkish Lira or US dollars!
We set out without knowing where we were going.  We just knew we needed to find a place for dinner and other than that, we wanted to take it all in!  We stopped to look in windows (filled with olives and other pickled veggies).
We stopped in places, like this bakery, to look and ask questions.
We walked up and down (mainly up), narrow cobble streets dodging cars (which do not stop for pedestrians) and trying to decide which road to go up next.
We took lots of pictures and soaked up this adventure with the kids.

Tired, hungry, and thirsty we found a place for a drink.  Owen is laying down on Brad's lap.  It was late, about 9pm, and we didn't even realize it.  In Saudi it starts getting late by 5ish so since it was just starting to get late we assumed it was still early.  Note to self, it stays lighter in Turkey longer so use that as a guide to know the time!
Fresh orange juice and a beer!  Perfect to quench our thirst.  We were hoping to sit down for a beer AND food but that proved harder than expected to find.  See, we are in a unique place in the world of Muslim meets non-Muslim culture.  We learned tonight that Muslim owned establishments do not served alcohol. ... but it looks like they serve amazing food so....
After our beer, we headed back to the little (and I mean tiny) restaurant that Nina had her eye on for a delicious meal!
A few things we learned/ observed, restaurants/bars are tiny!!  Space seems limited.  There are TONS of places to choose from, so that is not a problem actually everyone seems a bit desperate to get you to eat at THEIR place so they stand outside and try to lure you in.  Seating is limited.  Getting our group of 7 to find a table where we all fit and are comfortable was a bit of a challenge.  However, challenge accepted if that means they can get you to come in and eat at their place!
The authentic local places (again, we are in a low tourist area), have little to no menu.  You are served what is cooking in the pot!  This was great for a couple of reasons!  We got to try to local food!  With limited common language ordering was hard so not having to pick anything besides number of plates we wanted, which we did by holding up fingers, made ordering a breeze!
Late night, tired kids, and already an evening of fun!!!  Our journey in Turkey begins!!!  I can't wait to see what our other days have in store for us!!!  Come along for the ride!

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