Monday, August 26, 1991
We all woke up feeling better and indecisive about our U-turn to Istanbul (IST). In the end, we decided to go for it and hit Turkey. It’s funny because it wasn’t even on our agenda, but I guess it would be cool to spend one night in IST. We made the flight with no problem. We all sat in the back of the plane. I sat next to this older lady wearing sunglasses. She looked familiar, but I didn’t say anything. We started talking and it turned out that she was just laid off from Pan Am reservations in NYC. We shared our reservations stories, the company, and our trips. Her name was Donna and she ended up staying with us the whole time in IST. It was good because we got to split everything four ways. As soon as we went through customs, she became friendly with Anne and Fab so it seemed everyone would get along.
After customs, we went to the Tourist booth to find cheap accommodations. They recommended the Hotel Erboy. We had a Taksi driver take us, but as soon as we got there the girls wanted to go to the Sheraton Istanbul. The hotel wasn’t bad, but the neighborhood was ugly. I was kind of mad, but what could I do: three against one. Driving through IST seemed like a movie. The traffic was bad, the noise deafening, the people shouting and loud, but it was great! There were minarets everywhere. The city was beautiful. I remember studying IST, Constantinople, Byzantine empires, and Sultans in 6th grade. The Bosphorus strait divides the city and it’s the only city in the world that is situated on two continents (Europe and Asia). It’s incredible. We got a room for four people for $102 with a view of the Bosphorus. The mountains, ships, and water made it a spectacular view. As soon as we unpacked and changed, we started to roam the city.
We walked to this street (about 10 minutes from the hotel) that had a trolley. No cars were allowed and it was packed with people mostly men I might add. There were hardly any Turkish women on the streets and everyone stared at Donna, Fab, and Anne. As we were soaking up the city, we met Mehmet (i.e. Lurch). He came up to us speaking Spanish because we looked Hispanic. He wanted us to eat in his restaurant. It turns out he knows like 10 languages. He walked us to this leather shop to look at the jackets. Donna tried on some things, but she didn’t buy anything. We promised him we would eat at the restaurant at about 2100. After walking some more, we went back to the restaurant. The food was good, but it came out to about $15 per person. We freaked because the city was supposed to be cheap. I was upset, but what can you do. The meal consisted of appetizers, mixed grilled vegetables and meat, dessert, and Erse beer. The best thing was the beer.
After dinner, we walked through the side streets and we were bombarded with restaurant waiters trying to lure us to eat. It was annoying after a while. They followed you around like dogs. We walked through a street market and then took a cab back to the hotel. At that point, we decided to stay in IST another full day. We took a shower and slept.