When we were about to complete our thirdmonthof this adventure, we had posted a blog piece entitled "Reflections" in which we discussed our process of planning this trip, as well as some of our thoughts as to how it was going up to that point. That particular posting generated a lot of positive feelings amongst our followers and requests for more of the same.
We have been in Istanbul for at least 12 days now and in a word it has been "amazing". In spite of unseasonably cold weather (which we understand is also gripping a significant portion of the United States), we have thoroughly enjoyed exploring Istanbul. Our apartment is in the heart of the old city, so attractions like the Blue Mosque, the Ayosofya, and the Topkapi Palace are only a five minute walk away. The Turkish folks we have met are genuinely friendly and helpful. Sure, there are the shop owners that greet us outside and try to persuade us to "...just come in for some tea and have a look around", but that is part of the charm of this culture. One young man, Kenan, who works at the Arasta Cafe Nargile - in which we have eaten a number of times (their lentil soup is excellent and warm) - has taken us under his wing and has been trying to teach us some Turkish phrases. It is amazing to see the locals' faces light up when we use what little Turkish we have. Yesterday, we expanded our perimeters a bit by going on a little stroll (12 miles round trip).