Europe travel

Christmas in Turkey

Read about my week in Turkey for Christmas. I'll be honest, this entry is a bit tame as I was sick for most of the trip. But! I will be going back to Turkey for Easter so I hope I'll actually see some sights!

First, how the heck did I , an American citizen, get into Turkey during the ban? Well here’s how:

After contacting the Turkish embassy in Madrid, and the American embassy in Turkey, about 5 times, I finally got an answer. According to them, as long as you are coming from a country that isn’t the US, you are able to get an “on arrival” visa. The embassy also wanted me to pre-apply and give all my information on their website, saying it only took 2 days to get the official tourist visa. This, however, needs a fuck-ton of paperwork, including a letter, in turkish, from someone inviting you to the country and proof of that they have money to support you. So I actually got all of that, and my regreso (long-story short

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My poorly planned arrival outfit…

I am a resident of Spain and didn’t have the residence card so I had to get this paper showing I was allowed to enter the country again). I got so lucky because even though I got the regreso, I got an email the day before my flight saying my card was ready for pick-up.

When I arrived at the Pegasus counter to check-in, the man looked very confused. He looked at my passport, seeing that I was American, and said I wouldn’t be able to go to Turkey because they changed the rule last night! Great. Then the supervisor came over and said that with my Spanish resident card I should be allowed in. Maybe. Thank heavens it arrived.

Once I arrived in Istanbul I took my 20 Euros to the “visa” counter, got the sticker, clutched my invitation letter nervously in my hands and stepped up to the immigration officer. I showed him the letter and he looked confused. I guess he didn’t want to deal with me because as soon as he looked at my things another officer came to give him break. In the end, I was allowed to enter and I had no problems at all! Now if I’m not wrong, I saw on CNN that the ban has been lifted (just about a week ago) but I’m not sure so don’t quote me! Best thing to do is to contact your local Turkish embassy.

Reunited with Bae

It had been more than 3 months since I’d seen my Italian Stallion (haha) and I was super excited to see him at the airport. Though, to be honest, the first words out of my mouth were “I’m going to kill you for putting me through that.” “That” being the stress of the paperwork and flying Pegasus while being super sick, though I meant it with the utmost affection.

From the airport we followed Giulio’s friend, and colleague Emrah, to his house on the  Asian-side of Istanbul. He was allowing us to use his other house for the weekend so we could enjoy the city without getting a hotel. Unfortunately for me, I was still feeling a little sick so I thought it best to get an early nights rest to see if in the morning I could do some touristic things. First Emrah suggested we go to this restaurant near his house. This little place was so quaint and the food was so good that we came back every meal.

 

I awoke to a rainy and dreary looking day. Though I felt an ounce better than I had in the past few days, now having been on antibiotics for 2 days. We had decided to go to the mall and do some winter-shopping. Giulio had offered to buy me a nice warm cashmere/wool sweater for Christmas. So we walked around this giant mall walking into the stores and catching up. Once we found a store selling Cashmere sweaters it hit me. Diarrhea. I looked at Giulio with a look of panic on my face. I threw off the sweater and ran to the bathroom. Fuck, fuck, fuck there’s a line of 5 other women in front of me. At this point I’m sweating and suffering. I go back to the store and beg Giulio to take me home. That being said, that was the end of my adventure for the day.

Taksim Square and Galata Tower

Sunday was a beautiful day, complete with sunlight and birds chirping in the sky. I cautiously approached breakfast this morning, avoiding any heavy foods this time, and we set off to see something touristic. By car, just in case, ya know there’s an emergency

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I could see all these elaborate mosques on the horizon, with their towering spires giving them away. I’d really hoped to get to see one. But, unfortunately getting to the Blue Mosque is nearly impossible by car so we settled on Taksim square. We walked through the crowded streets and I admired the architecture and colorful shops. I remember thinking how interesting the language is in this country. It almost sounds like a mix of an Asian language, like Korean, with Eastern European. I also admired the people, who are so friendly and not to mention gorgeous. Turkish people, from what I’ve seen, tend to have dark features, yet the most beautiful eyes. Oh, and the beards! I am a big fan of beards and there are plenty to be seen here.

I made it, successfully, from the Galata Tower to Taksim square perfectly in-tact. Unfortunately that was all the time we had, since Giulio had to work the following day, so we hopped in the car and headed to Yalova.

 

 

Christmas in Yalova

Can I just say, I love Turkey?

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In many cultures, Christmas eve is the most important day of the season. It’s when the family comes over and celebrate and eat, usually seafood, together. Since it was just Giulio and I, he took me to a local restaurant by the sea. The man at the door didn’t speak any English, but it was fine because all we had to do was point to the fish splayed out across the ice. I was quite shocked that when we said we wanted calamari he grabbed it with his bare hands and gestured what could only be interpreted as,”this one?” to which we gave the universal thumbs up and he made his way to the kitchen with our choices.

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Here’s the awesome part, we ate:

  • Spigola (aka Sea Bass) the size of my forearm
  • Fried Calamari
  • Shrimp cooked in this heavenly red sauce
  • A huge salad
  • And beer

And we only paid about 24 Euro (150 Turkish Lira) for everything!

In many countries I’ve ever been too, seafood is considered a luxury. Even in the State of Florida, where we are practically surrounded by water, it is super expensive to have seafood especially at a restaurant.

 

Christmas Day

Everyone always pictures Christmas surrounded by family, everyone wearing ugly sweaters, a buffet of food, and the permeating scent of peppermint. However, this hasn´t been the case for me since Christmas 2013. Usually I try to surround myself with friends that I am very close with, and even some strangers because let´s be honest, the more the merrier. But this year was particularly different.

It started with Giulio heading off to work. I, being the great girlfriend I am, prepared him a coffee before he left I mean its Christmas after all its the least i could do.
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When he got home he was so happy with my small gesture that he told me we would go out for dinner. We went back to Yalova and found a restaurant that served everything I mean everything. From steak to quesadillas and hamburgers. Just as we started to enjoy our evening a group of 30 Greek men from the shipyard came and sat behind us. The noise level went from just us to x20, but it was overall a great weekend and about the last exciting thing that happened for the duration of the trip. Giulio woke up super sick the next day with a fever of 39 that lasted for the next 4 days and so it was a good thing I was there to help him. Especially because we had another wedding to go to in Poland that I didn’t want to miss!

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View from Yalova Ferry Terminal aka the end of my trip in Turkey

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