I’m back in Ankara after 3 weeks of visiting family and friends in Philadelphia and West Chester PA. When I first arrived in Ankara 6 months ago, I felt right at home. When I returned to the States, it felt like I had never left. Strangely though, halfway through my third week of vacation, I started to feel homeless. I went from feeling like I had two homes to feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere.
Upon arrival in Ankara, my husband took my mind off of things with a weekend trip to Istanbul. Istanbul was hosting its 32nd Annual Intercontinental Eurasia Marathon. Along with the marathon was a 15k and an 8k fun run. My husband had decided that he would do the fun run and his parents and I would walk the bridge from Asia to Europe. So we set off on a 5 hour drive to Istanbul.
After the Bazaar, we jumped on a trolley and made our way to the Spice Bazaar. The aroma and the colors were simply amazing.
Next, we walked over a bridge and made our way to the “Tunnel”, the second oldest underground system in the world, a subway which took us up a steep hill to Galata Tower in the neighborhood of Beyoğlu. My in-laws took in the views from the Tower as the hubby and I enjoyed the street performers.
Dusk had settled in and we were getting hungry. We decided to look for a nice fish restaurant along the water, but wanted to get away from the tourists, so we headed to the neighborhood of Çengelköy. Things started getting a little awry for us there. We walked a bit before finding a restaurant. After ordering meals at the outdoor cafe, I looked around and noticed no one was eating. I have a keen eye for this sort of thing. All of the guests were smoking and drinking tea. I quickly decided that the food was not going to be good – besides – they didn’t serve fish. We asked the waiter to cancel our order. The restaurant then decided that we should pay for one meal that was already cooked. But when we got to the register, it had grown to two meals. There was some haggling, and nasty looks, but we were eventually stuck carry those two meals home in a bag. (Let me tell you – they weren’t good! We ate them later and I can see why it only took 5 minutes to cook them. Nasty.)
The GPS was treating me better than the night before, but it kept taking me back to the same closed bridge. Eventually, I drove on, passing the bridge until the GPS re-routed me. I started to fear the closed roads yet to come. I diligently followed the turns as directed by my electronic friend. When I came to a closing, I shrugged my shoulders and turned another way. I followed signs to Dolmabahce Palace, just a stone’s throw from the stadium where the race would end. I even found the stadium. And then I circled. Surely this big stadium had parking! I found a big lot, one with a small sign and an even smaller entrance, paid my 10TL, and headed down the hill.
Can you believe, I made it to the finish line about 15 minutes before my husband crossed it! I was and am so proud of him! He had just started running again shortly before I left for the U.S. And here he was, crossing continents.
He wasn’t the only one I was proud of. His parents not only walked the bridge, they walked the entire 8k!
We finished the day with lunch in Taksim Square and a lovely drive back to Ankara.