Monday, June 23, 2008


Some of you may think it's nuts to pay four-digit prices on a plane fare at the last minute to go to Istanbul for less than a week. I don't care. This had to be one of the best trips I've ever taken. Some people may buy themselves a pair of shoes or earrings as a birthday present to themselves, but I think this has any material object beat. Three days was enough time to march around town and see pretty much everything notable, historic, and fun. The city has a good mix of old world charm, culture, great food, nice scenery, and activity. I wore a headscarf in the Blue Mosque out of respect, and it didn't feel too weird. In fact, I look kinda cute in an innocent, look-but-don't-touch, traditional sorta way. Plus, timing it to see Turkey beat Croatia in the UEFA quarterfinals was priceless. My former manager, who happens to be ex-military, almost ran for cover at the near-riot that broke out in Sultanahmet, but I lapped it up like all the raki I drank.

There was a lot of learning and observing. Nargile is the Turkish word for hookah. Churches and synagogues are crammed between buidlings and fenced in, while mosques sprawl with minarets reaching towards the heavens - very different than how houses of worship, particularly cathedrals, are constructed further west. Next time I go to a meyhane, I will not overdose on cold mezze so I can enjoy the hot fish and seafood. Even in Paris, I learned that I really really REALLY like macarons.

This was the first time I felt a thorough sense of relief and gratitude that I was no longer with J. If I had proposed this trip, he most likely would have initially indicated interest, then later recanted at the last minute, which either would have me resent him for my staying home or feeling guilty for leaving him behind. Instead, I felt free and light and happy, something that has eluded me for a bit, and it gave me a complete sense of being over him. Now my mission is to find someone to join me on one of these spontaneous junkets, among other things. In that arena, I still haven't found what I'm looking for...