Istanbul – Day 1 – Arrived Safe And Sound.

2015-11-Turkey_Smokers Die YoungerI just arrived in Istanbul earlier today.  My plane landed at 4:30… I picked up a bottle of wine at duty free.  Above is a sign taped to wall that leads to the cigarette display. See how simple the message is when the Tobacco industry and government isn’t involved?  The only improvement would be a picture of a 50 year old smoker who looks 80.

I arrived at my hotel around 6:30pm. I took a quick nap then went out to eat.  I flew United because I wanted the points so that I could gain my Premier status back (and get points to purchase a ticket to Utah)..  I would never fly them otherwise – they truly do not care about the customer experience. Planes are old, seats are old, wireless doesn’t work, the flight attendants are rude (and must be union because they act so entitled).   I will do a blog on United Airlines experience.. and it won’t be good for them.  So many small things they could do to improve their service that would GREATLY improve the customer experience.  In simplest terms, they should just follow Virgin America’s lead. O.k. enough of that. On with the good stuff.

The city is so much quieter now than when I was here in September.   I’m staying in the heart of the Old City – at a very small hotel named Sari Konak. I found it on TripAdvisor… a great little boutique hotel, off the busy roads yet centrally located.  The room is nice sized (I’m in room 201), bathroom is nice, and the folks are super friendly and helpful.  I will not spend my entire trip here as I want to get out of the tourist hustle and bustle, but this is a GREAT little spot to stay while exploring the Old City.  The only bad thing I can say about the hotel right now is that the wireless is either spotty or very poor.  There aren’t many tourists around so I’m surprised that the wireless internet isn’t blazing fast.

2015-11-20-Dinner with cat

Above is a picture of me at dinner…  Here I am with wine and cat…  as Jon Kabat-Zinn would say, “Wherever You Go, There You Are“. Yes, I am half-way around the world but I’m doing what I love – enjoying great food, good wine, and the companionship of a furry friend.  This is why I LOVE Turkey – I feel so at home here.  It is safe, people are ‘old school’ in the sense that they care for one another and for other living creatures (vs. tech, money, what school you go to, etc).  Example – at dinner I was going to have my meal packaged up so I could feed the strays but there was no need to do this. The restaurant puts all leftovers out for the strays…  There are no homeless (that I have seen) and the strays are well taken care of – they are spayed/neutered and well fed by restaurant and shop keepers.  It is in their culture to take care of all beings.

My plan is to organize my days in Istanbul and go to the Grand Bazaar tomorrow and just browse… I hear you feel the history just by being there.  I am looking for a few items –  a couple of small silver bowls to store jewels and such…  and a nice necklace for my friend Jewels who is going through tremendous heartache right now.  I don’t have much money but I hear the Turkish merchants love to negotiate so there may be many winners tomorrow.  🙂

O.k. I’d better go to bed.. otherwise I may not get up and enjoy my free breakfast and a full day at the Grand Bazaar!

If you have been to Istanbul and have tips for me please share them!  I have 8 days and would love to see/do things that aren’t currently on my radar.

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Sandwiched Between Two People.

sleepover-girls-pillowfightAnd it’s not that bad. The two folks?  My nieces.  Snore like men with heavy drinking habits.  I’m watching Boyhood – which is a great movie – which I picked – and the girls so graciously wanted to watch with me and soon passed out.  Loved the movie, girls.. not so much.

I am absolutely in love with these girls – but they do snore like no tomorrow – and these are the folks I’m sandwiched in-between.  I know, LUCKY ME.

I’m in Utah, with my family, working on a family matter that required my attention.  I have to go back to work in 24 hours….  I’ve so enjoyed my time with family that it’s hard to think about going back to work.  I’m desperate to sell my condo and buy myself a duplex so I can visit more often at a reduced cost… It will happen, it’s only a few years away.

Life has a way of unfolding in a way that you never expected.  My life is no different – I never imagined not having kids…  but it happened that way.  I think about this “life choice” every day.  But when I’m with my nieces I do not –  I can’t imagine a different life.  I love them more than the whole world, I would give up everything if it would guarantee their safety … I can’t imagine loving people more than I love my niece and her babes.

Maybe there is more love in store for  me in my life – but I honestly can’t imagine it.  I am open to it, but when I’m here in Utah, I can’t imagine a better life for me. Sandwiched between my favorite girls on the planet.  Love at it’s finest – snoring and all.