I really hope to be back here again someday. There is so much more to see and do. I barely had enough bonding time with Turkey.
What a nice airlines. We flew economy round-trip and it was as comfortable as a long haul flight could be. The food was Turkish and pretty good for airline food. Alcohol was free of charge and the selection of juices offered where OJ, apple, and cherry (?)—several people around me were ordering cherry– it must be a Turkish thing. The flight was comfortable, with individual entertainment screens in the head rest offering a great variety of movies and TV shows. There was even a channel to watch take-off and landing from camera views on the front and belly of the plane.
Cooking class for one
Before leaving on this trip, I alone from our group had signed up for a cooking class in Bodrum. As I found myself riding in the passenger seat of a car heading 18km outside of the city with a not so talkative stranger– a man named Haluk, I asked if we were picking up any other classmates from hotels. He said I was the only student that day. I have to say I started to feel a little nervous. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies about tourists wandering off the beaten path. I just held my breath and anxiety inside until he dropped me off at a farmers market to meet up with his mother-in-law Elena. This ended up being the best experience ever! Elena showed me around the market, we bought some fresh produce, and Haluk picked us up and took us to his house in the country to cook. Haluk is an artist and he and his wife live in a sort of rustic, farm, bohemian-style house. I had a great time cooking and visiting with the 2 of them, and later we sat down for a nice home-cooked meal.
I had heard from other travelers that the ruins of Ephesus were not to be missed. They were right. This place is expansive, and only a small portion of it has been excavated. These ruins are in great shape and the vegetation and geography of the area felt a little like Tuscany.
I loved this city—I believe I even prefer it over Athens. We were only here for a day, but it has such a vibrant young-people feel to it. Something I had been looking forward to and was a little disappointed by was the Grand Bazaar. I was expecting a more primitive outdoor flea market. From what we saw, it is basically a gigantic mall of shops. I also loved the waterfront–a busy, lively, walkway of couples pushing strollers, people with picnics on the rocks, vendors selling nuts and fruit, men sitting together playing the guitar and singing, and of course lots of cats for me to feed.
Armada Hotel- Istanbul
I love quirky boutique style hotels and this one fit the bill. It sits just 1-block from the waterfront. Inside the lobby there was a turtle pond and fairly loud bird sounds. I’m not sure if the bird sounds are taped or real, but upstairs off the patio there were several cages of boisterous birds—maybe there was a microphone next to them. Anyway it sounded so relaxing and tropical in the lobby. There was a patio bar upstairs with a terrific view of the city mosques. This hotel had the most extravagant breakfast buffet I’d ever seen. In addition to the small area of actual breakfast-type food there was a variety of nuts, spices, cheeses, and a large honeycomb to scoop out. There was an orange juice station where you cut and squeeze your own oranges into a juice glass.