Wednesday, February 05, 2014

the last day

Such mixed emotions in leaving Cappadocia! I am in awe of the landscape, the people, the pace of life here! But, too, I think about our last hike: just like Ed's decision to retreat from travel closes some doors for me, the attack by the pack of dogs, too, cuts back on forms of exploration. I'm not in a hurry to go on long hikes in remote rural areas just now, in the same way that I am never in a hurry to ramble alone in urban neighborhoods with high crime rates. You smell danger, your instincts are to stay away.

Of course, the reality is that a car ride back home is more of a risk than a ramble through the countryside in the regions that I tend to visit. But, were I to hike now in a quiet valley, I would listen for dogs. That's no fun. I'm adjusting my vision for my immediate travels (which are actually still this month). They wont include desolate, unpopulated areas of the world, that's for sure.

So I wake up early on this last day in Cappadocia and that's a shame because Ocean writing kept me up very late and then, too, there was that restless sleep. But, on the upside, I am there for the sunrise. I step outside for it: the Fresco hotel is near the top of a rock formation and so the views are truly sublime.

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-15.jpg

It's cold, really cold, but I wait patiently for that moment when the sun throws down it's first blaze of light.

from Cappadocia to 

I am here, I am well, it is morning, I must continue.

Breakfast is, as before, delicious. Eggs with tomatoes and peppers, plus the usual Turkish foods -- cheeses, cucumbers, olives, tomatoes. And halva. And cakes if you want them. And figs and nuts and dollops of honey over yogurt... The usual.

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-22.jpg

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-19.jpg

We give up on the idea of a pre-departure walk. There is no time for it. A sweet and warm goodbye to Gamze and we're off. And the Turkish Airlines flight is uneventful, and in Istanbul, since we have time, we take public transportation into the city -- a metro ride, then a long tram ride and finally we are in the old section of the city, right by the historic mosques. We're staying at the familiar Neorion Hotel and they upgrade us to a room with a phenomenal view...

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-46.jpg

...and so it's all good, no?

Well yes, mostly yes. But I am acutely aware that Ed is no longer excited by being here and that the negatives of this large, crowded city outdistance the positives for him and so, to a degree, for me as well. Moods rub off when you are close to your traveling companion. His definitely has had an effect on me.

And it doesn't help that we take a walk straight to the heart of the garment district and then up to the Grand Bazaar. I don't know why we go there. Perhaps I want to be mesmerized and dazzled by the Turkishness of such a place. Of an older sort. The mod, cosmopolitan crowd tends to congregate on the other side of the Galata Bridge. But the streets feel too crowded. It's hard to even walk.

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-52.jpg

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-55.jpg

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-60.jpg

...too crowded for good photo taking...

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-59.jpg

And as if all this isn't enough to make me want to go back to the hotel and crawl under the covers and be done with the day, there is the issue of the weather. It feels cold. I don't know why. It is near forty degrees -- warmer than in Cappadocia, but the wind is blustery and I feel under dressed, or under prepared, or something.

So we do a quick walk through the Bazaar...

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-66.jpg

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-67.jpg

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-65.jpg

...and then through a section of the Spice Market too, but when it comes time to go to the water's edge, because after all, isn't this what Istanbul stands for? The trade, the coming and going of vessels, the movement on the waters as much as on the streets here? Well, when it is time to pay homage to the Bosphorus, I say -- no, enough. Let's go back.

I had wanted one last fish dinner but in the end, that too was not to be. I haven't the enthusiasm for it and the chill in the air is too big of a disincentive.

But we do something that actually turns out to be deliciously fun -- we go back to the eatery just a couple of blocks from our hotel.

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-84.jpg

We had wanted to grab a supper there last time, but it closes early and so we missed it. It's a simple place where they serve only one thing: roasted lamb with a spicy tomato and pepper sauce and yogurt -- you mix it up, wrap it in thin bread and voila!

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-79.jpg

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-83.jpg

Of course, it's all in the goodness of the meat (the plastic coated "menu" speaks of lambs feeding on thyme and wildflowers. Very evocative!). And though the place is simple and cheap, the food is terrific. And since it is a place that Ed helped identify last time, he is, for once, into his food tonight.

We do retire to our hotel room after. Out the window, I watch dusk set in over Istanbul.

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-85.jpg

And then I have some email exchanges with my girls back home and I perk up a bit, because one of them asks for a small favor and so even though it is dark already, I leave Ed to his computer and run out for a quick hunt and now it does not feel so cold: I am energized.  I am again a bird in flight, or a pony on a gallop. No, not cold at all.

And after completing the small errand, I take in the night lights over the mosques...

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-87.jpg

...and now I really am ready to call it a day.

The quarter moon shines brightly over Istanbul tonight.

from Cappadocia to Istanbul-90.jpg

We're up at 3 for a flight to Paris at 6 and a flight to Detroit at 11 and a flight to Chicago at 3 and a bus ride who knows when to Madison, where it's cold, they say. Though maybe not so cold for us -- two people, wanting, for different reasons, to be home right now.