Out of the eastern bloc, into Turkey

Trip Start May 16, 2006
Trip End Aug 16, 2006

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Friday, June 9, 2006

Oh, Istanbul. Where to start. Quite a bustling place, indeed. I arrived about 9 am from the night train. The 4 am wake-up-and-get-a-visa-while-still-in-a-daze was quite interesting, but I seem to have made it through the border unscathed.

I eventually met up with Brian, one of the guys I met in Prague who happen to be in Istanbul while I was, found the hotel, unpacked, etc. The hotel was amazing, and definitely far better than I need or deserve. First time I have had a room to myself since... well... a month or so.

It has been about a week now, and I can't seem to remember what we did the first day. It must not have been very exciting. I think we walked around some, ate, and possible met some of his journalist friends-of-friends or something.

Anyway, the next day is when things got really interesting. We wake up around 11-ish, both shocked at our sleeping marathon, and begin lounging about, sipping coffee, planning the day. Oh, and by the way, my friend Stephen is giving a talk today at 12:30 at so and so about this and that about TUrkey, would you like to join me? Well, sure. We take a cab there, saunter in donning jeans and (me a short-sleeve) collared shirts. Things don't seem right though. This hotel seems a bit... posh. Anyway, we find where he is speaking and so forth, generally getting by with our pretend-like-we-belong attitude. But we clearly don't. Very, very posh. We are finally ushered into the room where he is speaking, the room is filled with very, very well dressed and important people. We were asked at the door if we were journalists (I happened to have my serious-looking camera on my shoulder, so yes, we were journalists) because we clearly didn't belong otherwise. There was an army of caterers, some real journalists (Brian is a real journalist, but not at this particular gathering), and even a box in the back where there was a Turkish-English translator. Stephen is introduced and his intro is all about how intimidated he is by all of the important people in the room. Did I mention that he has written several successful books? The ones I can remember are "All the Shah's Men" and recently "Overthrow". His speech was very, very interesting and informative. I later find that there was even a couple former Turkish foreign minister of something or other important present.

Anyway, we are drivin back to our hotel by Stephen's personal driver, only to spend the rest of the day probably wandering about and eating. I can't remember exactly, but it must have been something like that. Quite an experience.

Next update... the hamam and our second meeting with Stephen.
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