one of the amazing benefits of my new job is the opportunity to travel to some pretty incredible places. the trips that we’re planning with the chicklets are going to be pretty tame (well, i guess it’s all relative, right? western europe is certainly nothing to sneeze at!), so i feel so fortunate that my job is going to take me to a few more exotic places.
case in point: on october 15 i found myself boarding a flight with turkish airlines on my way to … istanbul! and to make things even sweeter … carrying my bags was a very handsome travel companion *wink*. this work trip happened to coincide with the maxeys’ 8th wedding anniversary, so my amazing and generous sister flew thousands of miles to come cuddle the chicklets for a few days to allow wen and me the opportunity to explore istanbul sans girls. lucky, lucky moi!
there’s so much to say about istanbul that i certainly won’t be able to capture. this city is a fascinating, complex, beautiful, gritty sensory overload. i’m surprised i didn’t give myself whiplash from looking left and right every few seconds, just to try and capture every little detail.
two of the “must sees” in every travel / tourist book are the blue mosque and the grand bazaar. again, a true feast for the senses. everywhere you look there is color and culture and history. i’ll admit that a few minutes in each was enough to satisfy my curiosity, but those few minutes were pretty incredible.
one of the most fascinating things about istanbul is that the city is divided by the bosphorous straight – on one side is europe and the other is asia, thereby making this the only city in the world that is actually on 2 continents (yes, i stole that line from wikipedia). what wiki can’t tell you, however, is that it’s just BREATHTAKING. the old, wood mansions right on the water; the incredible bridges which connect the west to the east; the mosques towering in the distance. i know i use the word “magical” way too much (i am becoming the girl who cried ‘magical city’ !!), but in this case it is fitting. there is something about this city which drew me in – it’s magical.
as one of europe’s largest cities, it draws some comparisons to nyc. in some ways that couldn’t be further from the truth (istanbul is still very pure in its customs and culture, whereas i see nyc as a true melting pot), but in other respects it’s actually pretty fitting. there is a fascinating mix of old and new – beautiful buildings located right next to crumbling stone walls. lots of little hidden pockets of neighborhoods, or even streets, that look like nothing until you take a few steps in, and suddenly you’re surrounded by hookah bars and music and the amazing smells of turkish food (kebab, anyone? yes, please!).
it unfortunately rained the entire time wen & i were there, but we didn’t let that stop us from soaking up (ha!) as much as we could.
we stayed at the house hotel galatasary, which was RIDIC. so so beautiful. it was located on a pretty gritty street, so i of course had the invevitable panic as we got closer. but it turned out to be a.maz.ing. just gorgeous. house hotel has another location right on the bosphorous that i will totally splurge on should we ever get the opportunity to go back (please oh please!). but for our first time in istanbul, our hotel was perfection.
on our last day together in istanbul, we popped into the cafe at the istanbul modern museum and had a little afternoon cocktail to toast our 8 years as mr & mrs. it was pretty unreal to think back to that perfect day in 2003, when we said “i do” in front of our peeps. clearly we had NO idea that we would one day be toasting on the shores of the bosphorous. on that day we had prayed and promised to be partners in this adventure … but little did we know where the adventure would take us! considering myself v blessed.
a few more pics of the istanbul adventures …
epilogue: after saying goodbye to wen as he left to catch an early flight back to nuremberg, i joined up with my global counterparts for a 3-day summit. when i accepted this new role, one of the things i was most excited about was having the opportunity to work with people from all over the world. and while the global component of my job has been SO MUCH HARDER than i ever imagined or anticipated, it’s also been SO MUCH MORE INCREDIBLE than i ever imagined or anticipated. on my final night in istanbul, i found myself hanging out with 3 other women from the team – 1 from south africa, 1 from dubai and 1 was born and raised in istanbul. we talked about non-work-stuff, laughed, shared stories, and shopped (the international language of women!). i rarely have moments of reflection IN THE MOMENT, but for some reason i remember being very acutely aware of how amazing it was to be sharing stories about children, husbands, life, worries, etc, with these beautiful women who come from such different cultures and worlds. it made me realize how truly small the world is – that although we come from such contrasting places, we are actually SO simliar. we all want our children to be happy and kind, we want to love and be loved by our spouses, we want to find balance between work and home. our circumstances may be so very different, but our hearts are the same. it was lovely.