We left for the Ben Gurion International Airport Sunday morning. The flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul was around 2 hours- not too shabby. I slept the entire time because my 10 hours the night before wasn't enough and also the plane just rocks me to sleep. Give me crying babies and the beep of the seatbelt sign and I'll be out in 5 minutes. We met our tour guide, Negept, right off the plane. He gave us Turkish Delight and I thought, "Hey, this stuff is pretty good. I can't wait to buy more." Well, that was a bad idea. I'm pretty sure he found the absolute best kind in the country to give to us. The rest of the kinds I sampled? Not good. See my title for I super creative and sensical nickname for it. Creativity- I has it! After my failed forays into foreign fare, I've decided I have to return to the good stuff- baklava and cinnamon sugar pitas. They're the only guys (yes, I've resorted to finding friends in my food. Is this a new low? No, that would probably be the time I had to eat fruit for dessert. Whatever you do, don't do that!) who are consistently there for me. So, not much happened on the first day. The weather was beautiful and we learned a little about Turkey. For dinner, we got our first taste of kebabs. And, it would not be our last. Kebabs, along with lentil soup, are a part of Turkish identity. Now, sparingly, those lentils are pretty delicious. By my tenth bowl of lentil soup, I (and my digestive tract) was so done. Somehow, every Turkish restaurant follows the exact same (you can quote me on that) lentil soup recipe. Or, more likely, there's just a giant vat of lentil soup in some Turkish factory where all of the restaurants get their soup. They send their men with tons of tupperware and fill 'em up. Genius, really.
|Negypt and his trademark faux hawk|
Monday was so jam-packed, I don't know where to begin! Of all things that stood out, Muhammad's beard hair was high on the list. I was just so shocked- they must have amazing preservation techniques in Turkey because his beard was just as clean and luscious as it
probably definitely was back in the day. I can only hope that my beard hair keeps its shine so long! The infamous locks were found at the Topkapi Palace. Pretty cool, if you're into that sort of thing. Personally, I'm pretty low-maintenance and don't need all of that frivolity to be happy. (Quick, mom! Destroy my tiara and abandon the nickname "Princess Tess!") The palace was very impressive. Today, there are exhibits in the palace with golden thrones and jewels.
|Get out of my picture, crazy tourists!|
Another great stop was the Blue Mosque. I covered my hair inside, but many people don't because the mosque is so touristy now. If you go to Istanbul, you most go to the mosque. And no, that's no typo- lame puns are in for spring! (luckily, so are man pants and your mom's swim suits from the 90s. score 1 for me!)
One of my favorite spots of the day was the Basilica Cistern. At one point it was filled with water, and there's still some water with fish. If you asked for a definition of depressing, I would show you a picture of those fish. I'm pretty sure I saw one trying to drown himself? Yeah, I didn't think it was possible either. The Cistern was the best because it looked exactly like the cistern that a previous Bachelorette contestant visited once. Trash T.V.? I don't know the meaning of the word! Anyway, I couldn't find a boy to be my date to the Cistern, so I recruited my friend to be the boy. I pinned some headphones on her en lieu of a rose. It was all probably rather strange to on-lookers, but it was just a normal day for me. Another normal event? Me posing like Medusa next to the Medusa head while everyone else just smiled. I'm promise I'm normal/the clear stuff in my water bottle is actually water.
|Will you accept this rose?|
|Smiling in pictures?! Preposterous!|
The Grand Bazaar came next. I'm trying to play it cool on here but I don't think I can hold it in (much like how I peed myself in excitement when I first laid eyes on the place)....THE GRAND BAZAAR WAS EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED AND MORE. I urged my friends to "just leave me here" and "go on without me," but they decided the teachers wouldn't appreciate my intentional lostness. The best/worst part of the day was hearing that the Grand Bazaar has 4,000 shops. It was the worst because after that piece of information, I was told I would have only one hour to spend there. You can't just dangle a carrot like the Grand Bazaar in front of me and then give me 60 minutes to shop there! Not cool, guys. I ended up being so frazzled I just bought some crappy Turkish Delight and ran around like a headless chicken. But, there is a happy ending to my story. No, I didn't discover a natural chocolate fountain or be crowned the cat goddess or find $20 in my pocket. In part II of my Turkey recap, you'll get to hear all about my return trip to the Grand Bazaar!
After the Grand Bazaar, we took an hour boat ride around the Dardanelles. I was super excited because I didn't get seasick like I have in the past. The whale watching incident of '04 was a doozy. I blamed it on the egg sandwich, but we all know I was just covering myself. Poor egg sandwich, it didn't deserve to get mixed up in all that. Dinner was kebabs, I think. Let's go with that.
|For once in my life this scene was staged!|
Oh my gosh, Tuesday was a really great day because we got to see Troy!!!! Wow, what a magnificent site. Maybe even the best place we've visited thus far. I highly recommend it. I mean, who wouldn't want to pose next to a giant black blob? Yeah, so the only cool part about Troy is that it has the prop horse from the 2004 film Troy there. Tourists pose in the head holes and take pictures. But, when we got there, it was covered by a giant black tarp for maintenance. Oh well, I got to bust out my dejected face. Celebrate the small victories. Basically, do your research before heading to Troy. But, if all else fails, just have your own rap performance in the ancient theater. I had an audience of two and some tourist didn't realize I was in the middle of a big show so she decided to join me.
|Play the sad Charlie Brown song in your head as you look at this|
|Putting on a show|
|Layers of strata at Troy-so, it wasn't a total bust|
Before Troy, we went to the ANZAC memorial. It commemorates members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who died in the Gallipoli Campaign during World War I. The Allies set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula in order to gain access to the Black Sea. The Gallipoli Campaign consisted of brutal trench warfare, and at many points the water was deep red with blood. Sorry, I'm even boring myself so I imagine most of you have skipped to the end of the pictures by now. Actually, I watched the movie Gallipoli in 9th grade and remember liking it. By that, I mean I remember that Mel Gibson was a lot more attractive back in the day. For more info on Gallipoli/ANZAC, consult Wikipedia. I've used it for the past 8 or so years and it hasn't failed me yet! The setting for Gallipoli is beautiful, and it's hard to imagine the scene back in 1915. We all sang "Nearer, My God, To Thee" and reflected on the brutality of war. After we sang, an Australian couple approached us to express their appreciation. They said it was refreshing and moving to witness a group of American students paying their respects at an Australian/New Zealand war memorial. I think our teacher was pretty proud of that.
In Turkey, the name of the game was driving. After the ferry ride to Troy, we drove to a completely empty seaside resort. It was a good thing no one else was there because we were our usual loud and obnoxious selves. Food-eating competitions, diving in restricted areas, you know.
Wednesday was a bloody great day. By bloody great, I mean that I fell twice and also mother nature paid a visit. Too much info? I'd like to see them try to censor this loose cannon! I can't be tamed!! One of my two falls occurred at Assos. ANZAC was beautiful, but Assos probably took first place. From our vantage point, we could see the beautiful water below and even the island of Lesbos in Greece. Confession time. The real reason I haven't written in a while is because I jumped off the cliff into the water and then swam over the Greece. I did traditional "Greek" things like doing shots and eating stuffed grape leaves. Then, my class noticed I was gone and killed my (literal) buzz by bringing me home.
|I'm pretty sure I could live here|
The next stop on our agenda was Pergamon. Pergamon was super windy and it had ruins. Sound familiar? It sure felt like deja vu to me. That's not true, there were a few more ruins in Pergamon than the ruins in Israel. And, Pergamon was set in beautiful green hills that made me feel like I was Gollum in the Lord of the Rings. I mean, I should want to play an elfin queen (did they have queens, my nerdy siblings?), but I just make really good/creepy faces! That night we checked in to our hotel and I knew where I had to go first- the discotec. That's right, our hotel had its very own. Unfortunately, I had to get there before my bedtime which means it was pretty dead. I didn't really get it- 6:30 P.M. is a perfectly acceptable time to go to the club. Well, at that point it was actually a makeshift BINGO hall. That probably explains why I enjoyed it so much.