Monday, March 20, 2006


After flying over the vast Alps on or way from Venice to Amsterdam, we finally touched down in Turkey at 1 in the morning.

Taken for a ride by an opportunistic airport taxi driver, we arrived at our smokey shit-hole of a hostel. With a fever and an impressive cough, I fell asleep on our rock hard bed, and when I woke up, my lower back had gone out. Things improved greatly from that point on. We changed lodging, spending an extra 5 Turkish Lyra ($4) to move up in the world to a lovely Pension Hotel a couple of blocks away. With our new digs as base-camp, we've spent our days walking the confusıng streets, visiting mind-blowing mosques, street bazzars, Nargila (Hooka) Joints, Sultan's Palaces, spice markets, ferries, and cinemas.
We've eaten countless kebabbs and had by far the best Donair I've ever tasted.

The Blue Mosque was a definite highlight. Not just because of the impressive architectrure, but also because I struck up a conversatıon wıth an ex-Marıne helicopter pilot turned private contractor who regailed me with stories of his new gig as an aircraft test pilot in Iraq. Workıng for a prıvate company, hıs job involved not only test flyıng helıcopters as they came ınto the war zone--before Marine pılots took them over-- but because of the growing dirth of military pilots, he now has a side contract doing med-evac runs in the rather dangerous Northern Insurgency areas. With just a short lay-over on hıs way back to the war, he had decided to drop by the mosque and take a few snapshots. I hope he's getting well paid.

After being dragged through a half dozen museams in the last few days, I can say with great certainty, that my favorite cultural artifact in Istanbul is the pleasingly grotesque hand of St John.

This morning we made our way from the European continent to Asia by crossing the Bospherous river in a fifteen minute cross-town ferry. My stomach is grumbling. I think it's time to go eat some more donair.


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