"The Daily Show: Global Edition" is on the CNN International channel in our hotel room. It's much like the regular edition of "The Daily Show", just chopped up a little to appeal more to the rest of the world. Yesterday we got an episode from the second season of the Sopranos. I don't know what's going on here, but I like it.
Istanbul is really something. A city of mosques, that's for sure. We visited the famous Blue Mosque and neighbors Aya Sofya and Topkapi Palace on our first day, which were each impressively grand. No wait, that was our second day. Our first day was spent napping, wandering aimlessly, and bickering due to lack of sleep during our 12-hour overnight bus ride from Goreme. We're beginning to gauge one another's fatigue enough to know when to just stop talking to each other. And a beer always helps.
We're staying near the historic/touristy part of town called Sultanahmet. What's neat is that our hotel (yes! an actual hotel with a/c and cable TV with English channels!!!!!!!) is hidden on a little side street in a rather non-touristy neighborhood off the main drag, though we still have a nifty little view from our terrace. It feels like we're part of the local scene.
The city is huge. HUGE. We've been here for five days and have barely scratched the surface. I've never seen more street vendors selling more crap in all my life, and that's not even inside the Grand Bazaar. Crap aside, it's quite beautiful here. The rows of buildings remind me of Manhattan, the colors and hills of San Francisco, the heat and humidity of summertime in Chicago. Everybody's out and about. We're sweaty, but we're enjoying ourselves. World Cup fever is alive and well here, too. A few nights ago on a street near our hotel, every single outdoor cafe showcased the game on a big screen TV where about half of the patrons were cheering for Portugal, the other half for England (sorry bout those penalty kicks, England). And this is in a country whose own team didn't even qualify for the World Cup. Oh, and today we toured a carpet museum- another little reminder that we're far from home.
B and I continue to run into ridiculously nice Turkish people. Every time some old man stops us on the street to assure us how much he loves the U.S. and then invites us to his daughter's home for tea, I instinctively clutch my day pack and look around for an accomplice who's ready to steal my camera. I'm just not used to such unabashed friendliness.
The podcast episodes are coming along well. Obviously there are places and situations where we can't whip out the camcorder (like inside a mosque or down a dark alley at night), but for the most part, we have an overabundance of material. Usually once we feel like we have enough to work with, B digitizes it into the MacBook Pro and begins the editing process using iMovie. We either compose our own music or choose from a pre-built song using GarageBand, compress the final piece, and FTP our masterpiece to my server from any internet cafe with wi-fi or an available ethernet cable. It's not a flawless system, but I'm pleasantly surprised with our success so far using fairly basic programs and services. Right on, 2006.
Daily plate of tavuk shish: 5 lira
Side dish of haydari to accompany daily plate of tavuk shish: 3 lira
Double room at the Sultan's Inn with a/c and cable TV: $40 per night
Snapping your own award-winning National Geographic cover photo: priceless
Subscribe to our travel podcast!