The Istanbul Marathon – Quite an Adventure!

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.

Marathon Flags

 

Taking in the Views

 

We had no problem finding the city, but it did take a while to find our lodging, on the Asian side of Istanbul, about 35 km from the tourist district of Sultanahmet.  It was late, but we managed to get some sleep before starting Saturday’s adventure. After breakfast, we headed to Sultanahmet and visited the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Cami) and Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya).  We had a quick lunch and then headed to the Grand Bazaar.  While at the bazaar, my husband searched the city for a number to run in the race.  It was the last day to sign up, but there were no officials to be found.  At last, he was told the numbers were gone, but they gave him a brochure and assured him he would be able to enter the race with that.

Clouds

Aya Sofya

The Blue Mosque

After the Bazaar, we jumped on a trolley and made our way to the Spice Bazaar.  The aroma and the colors were simply amazing.

Spice Bazaar

Colorful Wares

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. 

Galata Tower

Jugglers on the Square

Another Beyoğlu Building

Rainbow of Lamps

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.)

View of the Bosphorus

We walked along the street and finally found a fine-dining fish restaurant with a view of the water.  Life was good.  Until our GPS failed us on the drive back to the lodging.  It was at least 1a.m. by the time we hit the sheets. We rose early the next day and headed off to the starting point for the 8k.  Unfortunately, it was along a highway near the beginning of the bridge with NO PARKING!  My husband was told we could park in the next neighborhood.  But there was no way that was happening!  It was reeeeaaaallly far.  He circled a couple of times.  Finally, I told him to get out of the car and I would meet him and his folks on the other side.  Bold move. 

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.

Guarding Dolmabahce

İnönü Futbol Stadium

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.

Happy to See a Familiar Face

The Finish Line

Rocky in His "Philadelphia Runner" Shirt

He wasn’t the only one I was proud of.  His parents not only walked the bridge, they walked the entire 8k! 

Proud In-Laws

We finished the day with lunch in Taksim Square and a lovely drive back to Ankara.

A Little Turkish Pride

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2 thoughts on “The Istanbul Marathon – Quite an Adventure!

  1. Aunt TT,
    I know your a great lawyer and all but have you considered writing books? That was an amazing short story that you told about your couple of days!! I LOVE YOU AUNT TT!!

  2. Lovely photos and… oh do I know that feeling of homelessness Terry. I think in hindsight it was me noticing a major perspective shift.
    On the second visit home when I was living in Australia I began to think ‘Am I still an American? Because I’m starting to think like an Australian. But I’m not really an Australian, of course.’
    Now I’m back to feeling like I have had two homes again, but a lot of things about my view of the world have changed just as a result of living somewhere appreciably differant than ‘home.’

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