She had timed it so well, the weather was warm and sunny on the Saturday her first in Istanbul, so we went straight to one of the four islands reachable from Istanbul shores, and called Buyukada (means big island) it happens to be the biggest Island! We met my friend Deniz (sea) by the sea, the Marmara Sea and headed to the Island. We went to take a fayton (horse carriage) around the Island and bumped into some German tourists who could not communicate with the fayton drivers. So they asked us to!!! So we attempted first English, and they said "yes, yes" but that was all and either could not speak or also not understand, then I tried French, then I think we tried Spanish, so we told the Turkish men we tried and got into our fayton! We went to the Orthodox Church at the top of the hill, I had been here before, but Claire asked the priest a question, he first asked her if what religion she was and I thought oh know this is going to be awful, but he was so nice and helpful, the question was about the closed altar and why it was so, he then proceeded to unlock the small door to the altar for us to view, that was really something special. The views are amazing from this hill onto the Spoon Island (it's shaped like a spoon) and also the Asian side of Istanbul. We ate 'kofte' (meatballs) and drank 'ozel sarap', special wine that is made on the Island.
We started to head back down the hill and Claire had spotted a photographic opportunity of us standing in front of the church's entrance
. So she stood a little away raised up on a slope and we stood in tourist pose in front of the church...but a small van pulled up just in view shot of her photo, we signalled to him to move back and he just smiled and gestured something at us, we think not to move!, as the driver waited in this van, the passenger took a wooden box of tomatoes, this time right in view shot, and then of course a huge carton of yogurt, the passenger got back in the van and they drove off, leaving us in hysterics especially Claire, she was keeling over not being able to stop laughing and still take the photo! She took the picture and the tomatoes and yogurt was still on this slope as we left!!! Then the fun did not stop, we got into a fayton going down the slope, yes very lazy, and one wheel started to feel loose, he stopped the carriage and took some wire to attempt to fix it back, so now I am feeling a little unsafe and was the one facing backwards, so the carriage trots along a little longer, not trots more like stumbles! It stops again, and he looks at it, and we say thank you very much but we want to leave now, and we get out back onto safe land - phew!
We caught rather a late boat back from the Island and we had to catch what is called a 'gipsy' boat, meaning it stopped at all four islands until we got to the port of Kadikoy on the Asian side...from there we could normally take another boat to Bakirkoy, but it was too late, so I was not so sure where to go, (you can get lost in this huge city even after 6 months)
. We then waited another 30 minutes to take another boat to Karakoy (Claire was getting highly confused with all the 'koy's'). When we reached the Europe side we bumped into my friend Mandy from Germany, Istanbul is huge but I still manage to bump into people. It was now 10pm and we needed to change our clothes in BakirKOY and then go back out to Taksim. So we opted for the taxi, where funnily the driver of course noticed we were foreigners and that I was showing some places out of the window to Claire, so then he did too. Slowing down, not watching where he was going, and speaking a strange Turkish I really could not understand and I was so tired, so we nodded and said thank you a lot. But I loved the way he was so passionate about sharing his history of his country with us, and many Turkish show this enthusiasm too. After this small sight-seeing tour we got back out to the town centre, Taksim to drink some bira. At 3am we walked back to the dolmus queue to go to Bakirkoy along Istiklal Cadessi, and Claire saw some transvestites conversing with young boys, men fighting and basically a lot of drunken people, she or I was not sure if she was more shocked, scared or amazed. I had exhausted Claire all on her first day exactly that it was just her first day and I told her the expression I've heard many times the night she arrived, that Istanbullites say 'anything can happen at anytime'. She really experienced Istanbul.
Claire my friend had come to visit me, and I was just as nervous and excited as when my parents came to Istanbul. This time however I had planned some serious partying too as well as the touristy stuff. Waiting at the airport for her, my palms became sweaty and I could not stand still, flight was delayed so when it did land I was just anxiously waiting the gate where International arrivals come out from collecting their luggage. I had now become quite acquainted with this airport (Istanbul Ataturk International). How many times I had been here now? First my arrival, then my departure for graduation, then my return (three so far) that time my friends Anna and Kaan had met me from the airport, then my parents arrival, then their return and now Claire...so six times. As I waited I watched two interesting middle-aged ladies, not sure if they were German or British, being welcomed by two young Turks I am sure it was innocent enough, but it just looked a bit strange to me and I LOVE people watching