Sunday Summer Express Sunday

Istanbul, through a jet-lagged perspective...

the city awakens

ready and waiting

Büyükdere has sleepy eyes

this canine caught my attention

interesting that out of all the benches along with Bosporus, Dog picks the one fully covered with seagull droppings!

Dogg being a dog

Dogg wanting a pat on the cranium 

Sunday Summer Express Sunday…

Back at this end of the planet (41.0082° N, 28.9784° E), I’m easing back into my Istanbul groove.  Transitioning (jet-lag) always is enjoyable in its ‘feeling strange in your body rhythm’ kinda way.  You embrace it because you want to, or you fight it because you want to. Either way, you experience both sensations, sometimes in unison. Mind-bending.
Today is Sunday Summer Express Sunday… Yes, it is still quite warm- Google says it’s 90ºF yet as I took my body out for a run this morning I figured it to be mid 80’s- but there is just something in the air that whispers autumn. I can feel it coming in the air at night, hold on… Yea, I know, Phil Collins cheesy…
The Sunday Summer Express Sunday train to autumn wheels a churnin, the wheels are turning, ready to travel and wax poetic through life here in the ‘bul for another year. Another good ride I figure. They’re all good rides, quite honestly.
Speaking of rides, I had a recent soft-thriller; a whirlwind journey to Cluj Napoca, Romania. Our intentions were purely fluid- to pick up spirits to journey back to Istanbul with, and whatever else happens… Cluj is the ‘gateway to Transilvania (it seems to be spelt like this everywhere, thereby forcing me to believe this is its correct spelling). It was a short and sweet journey through Central/East Europe while delving more into their history, both recent and past. 
I was unaware of the Hungarian factor present, although it makes perfect sense what with the porous borders throughout Europe with many dualities at its intersections. What is a border after all except an artifice with much more gray than black or white. With borders come culture clashes, absorption, etc. Its people are diverse and beautiful and kind- like all places I’ve visited on this planet really.
When I travel I like to see the similarity yet diverse nature of all places. I know, it sounds a bit ridiculous as you read through that one again and again… More justly, I like to reason why I can’t sum things up by using categories- much as we all try so as to relate an experience that all can collectively (perhaps) agree upon. There is a temporary quality where one meets people in situations where you will never be in that spot again with this same person, but realize your meeting was something monumental and insignificant at the same time. You might never communicate with these new friends again in terms of physical location, but you still grow as individuals whose lives you can, however remotely, keep track of. This is something about social media in which I endorse wildly.
When I travel time is more temporary, I could say if I had to perhaps fit a category to describe this feeling! Anyway, I met an interesting and diverse crew of new characters in my book of life. Some of the moments played out as cartoon characters in a modern adaptation of a Who Done It (there was much Pink Panther watching on TV- how many Romanians describe learning English). The ‘Who Done It’ involves EdVice and myself along with two Lithuanian Lads who save the day, or night as it was- late night. 
There was this bar across the way that we fancied during our stay. A moody bar just in my style of existence; nothing flashy or pretentious this bar, just your convenient neighborhood bar in an interesting section of the city just off of the city center. The theme was music and retro. Johnny Cash rules as a heavyweight in this here watering hole.  Yes! That’s it, it’s a friendly neighborhood watering hole (forgot name- must look up…).I think it was La Tevi?  If not, that was the bar next door...
Walking back late to the hostel (Retro Hostel) one evening, we came upon the bar, doors open and inviting. We see the Lads and sit with them for a nightcap. Reveling in good cheer and good company, I get more comfy and take my purse off and set it on the back of my chair- with a semi-watchful eye…
EdVice was up at the bar earlier and this drunk dude ran into him. He was wasted so 'whatever'- is likely what EdVice thought as this occurred. Flash forward to our shenanigans at the table and out of nowhere (I didn’t even see) said dude comes tumbling back by our table- perhaps en route to the bathroom, as that is all that is back there and there is no backtracking here so one must exit the same way they entered… Both Lads see that dude has grabbed my purse and is stumbling back towards the back room.  They jump up and exclaim what’s going down and they are gone- BAM. Before I know it, we are all in the back room, the Lads already have my purse back and the dude is being given “the talk” by the bartender & bar patrons.  We are back in our seats story-telling already the events- as if to realize it will be re-told countless times around the fire instilling a sense of oral history charm back into our species.
I kind of wake up out of my stupor (remember, I’m only tipsy but we did have a long day of walking and par-taking in adult beverages) upon hearing the Lads discuss that the dude still hasn’t left the back room- my purse snatcher is still in the building! Suddenly I’ve acquired this sense of urgency to go back there and read him my riot act… I declare my intentions to the crew and am up. I next remember that the entire crew is back at my heels lifting me back as I’m talking rather loudly to the dude, who is so impaired that he can’t possibly know what is going on, and telling him how I’m going to destroy his life. Apparently I’m doing this in a rather animated way- as EdVice tells it. The Lads can prolly add to the story here as well. All ends well and we trot back to the hostel where we immediately begin to re-tell the story to the night watch hostel dude- a very proud Hungarian-Romanian and subsequently gave us a regional history lesson. He happened to be wearing traditional Hungarian garb as well.
Oh yea, there was also this mercenary dude who came to my rescue.  I guess he saw all the hullabaloo that was going down and wanted in on the action too.  I remember the bartender(s) telling me to calm down. I guess I looked really imposing!  Anyway, it was all-okay in the end.  We had a grand day of trekking around Cluj’s streets looking for the seediest and the finest supermarkets while taking breaks and finding watering holes along the way.  We met countless do-gooders who helped us out, and have a great story to re-tell and refine… ahem.
So, that explains the cartoon-character part of the story.  I felt like we were in this Boris and Natasha kinda scene where the villain was this goofy, clumsy, loveable character… Also, whenever a mercenary shows up in a story, you know it is kinda destined to be a classic.
There is also this new steampunk bar we checked out, Atomic Cafe. Actually this is kinda an anthem of Romania, perhaps.  We found another, really cook, steampunk coffee shop while coming back from the cemetery- a very cool cemetery by the way.
All in all, many interesting places to check out. I would go back to drive through the Carpathian Mountains and camp out along the way.  And the castles… I would like to check more out- especially in the Transilvanian Alps.  Also, there was this haunted park that I wanted to check out in Cluj, but we didn’t have time to do so J
Okay, I’m tiring of this story now.  It’s time to retire to my place and watch a few episodes of Narcos Season 2… Shame to leave this beautiful day to go inside, but in celebration of actually being able to carry a spring-loaded curtain rod all the way from Hawaii to Istanbul on all my flights without being thrown off for carrying a possible WMD, I decided to hang up my red and orange silk curtains that travel to every country I’ve lived in so far on this journey. 
It’s so pretty, the way the sunlight filters through my large window and casts this sublime tequila-sunrise hue across my walls. Even in the brightest of daylight, when the curtains are closed it is dark, cool and one thinks about mai-tais being a part of the color wheel. Yea, I’ve earned this day; I already ran this morning and did a little people-watching too.
first thirst station stop

A fine time at Cafe Bulgakov which, incidentally, I happen to be reading one of his books- The Master and Margarita. Coincidence? I think not...

wandering around the hood

hood graffiti

cats rule

a quiet cemetery filled with mystery and intrigue on an overcast morning

I wonder

another gem


Carnival knowledge; otherwise known as jet lag delight

There's something about jet lag that I covet; there is bliss in an absurd time schedule. Because Hawaii is 12 time zones and up to 13 hours time difference away from Turkey, my body goes through a lot of change when I travel back and forth between homes. As with my body, so does my mind.

Wherever my body exists, as opposed to wherever my mind thinks I am, I enjoy the nights. It's like a transformation into something different. By something different, I mean I see the night different- even if I often enough stay up until 2 am.

Something comes alive.  It's dreamy. Take today for instance; I went to work at 8 am, and returned home at 9 am... Yes, that is another story; I failed to read the email on the previous day (because I, again, left early- due to jet lag of course) stating that if we didn't have anything to do we didn't have to show up... So... I show up - it takes an hour before I even read that email- and start to organize. BAM and I'm so fast outta there on a slow dolmus back to Büyükdere, my village away from my village. I'm re-familiarizing all the sights, smells and sounds of Istanbul. I do love this about returning- anywhere that holds a place in my heart actually. Now that I have my sea legs back, I venture forth to 'our çay bache' (tea garden) for the requisite Turkish-style bitter tea served in dainty tulip-shaped thin glass with 2 cubes of sugar. Note that I only use 1/2 of 1 sugar cube... and only because it is necessary...

EdVice eventually shows up and we wax poetic about our recent travels. The day is a beauty; mid 80s with a light wind to kiss away the sweet, sweat dewdrops amassing as soldiers on the battlefield of ones upper lip. I proudly display my new belt ("gay leather belt") as EdVice so faux-flippantly describes it. We end up concurring that it is, in fact, utilitarian, if not a bit retro. I'd like to think a more modern adaptation for its meaning; Burning Man residue that is city-slicker friendly vibe.

We cover all topics of immediate interest; more importantly I declare a decree- demanding that 'we' (Brownie Walkers of Shame) venture off at the weekend to check out the newest Bosporus Bridge that finally opened to traffic this summer in our neck of the woods. Kitty Kat talk obviously surfaces. Our çay bache is in fact the nesting ground of their newest edition, Betty Poop (the suffix is my invention alone- as a term of endearment stemming from her wonder years and certain difficulties she experiences in her transition becoming a kept kitty kat.

Our walkabout consisted of cruising to a few markets... another byproduct of jet lag is that it becomes a free ticket to shun from exercising that carries, to a certain degree, a meaningful amount of validity. Whatever.  I'll take it. EdVice, just returning from Canada was outfitted in autumnal fashion ultimately complimented with a felt Fedora. We are obviously both excited for the arrival of fall weather and all the good cheer that rides alongside that wave. Not that you would gather that from my summer outfit.

Yes, back to that summer outfit and the ultimate accessory I was sporting, affectionately now known as my 'gay leather belt'. It is indeed special- mostly because every time I wear it I will think about MisSimone, who gave it to me! I can honestly say that it is a perfect city accessory if one doesn't like to carry a purse, etc. There are enough pockets in it to carry keys, money, chapstick/lipstick and cell phone without looking overloaded. I'm totes digging on it.  I will rock the shit outta that piece. It's cute with an edge to boot.

Back home doing my thing, I eventually fall into deep slumber- for perhaps up to 3.5 hours... Not good.  Here I am at 10:45pm totally buzzing, which is nothing unusual in itself, but will continue on into the wee hours of early morning I already know. This is it though; this is the addiction to jet lag. I guarantee you all that these frivolous hours will turn to gold. Whatever that means to me, I realize I cannot possibly describe to you all... but I think many will get :) 

I've already updated my Spotify with new music after stalking FB friends' lists, etc. I've worn out the kitties with their new toys. I've brushed their fur to the point of shine so bright that their coats reflect light- sparkaliscious! I've unpacked all my delightful potions. I'm digging on my daybed set-up that perhaps Settar, Mizgin or Zeyneb set up- each had a stint in kitty-kat sitting during my travels. I'm indulging in succulent, juicy nectarines that are at every green grocers right now- fashionably in season.  Right now I'm multi-tasking, thinking how to stream Hemlock Grove season 2 since Netflix Turkey sucks and it's not showing up as an option...

The list is endless. Jet lag nights helps me to check off things on this endless list I find.  One year, upon return to Maui, I watched the entire 1st season of Game of Thrones in 3 days of dazed stupor. Speaking of dazed stupor, thanks for the use of your couch for that Katie-girl!

Speaking of Katie-girl, we have this thing for podcasts.  Perhaps this is a thing for all archaeologists though, to get through all those mind-boggling hours spent monitoring bulldozers while standing in the hot sun, or the pouring rain, or relentless winds blowing sand in your face... Anyway, I have 2 new fab podcasts to soak up, one of which I already knew about but was holding off on.  So, Serial season 2 is revving up- such as season 1 did with Adnon and the murder mystery.  Season 2 deals with an American soldier stationed in Afghanistan who goes AWOL one day as he tires of the war machine. In short, he gets kidnapped by Al Qaeda, blah blah blah. I'm sure most of you heard the news story when it went down about 2 years ago?

The 2nd podcast is just golden. Katie-girl is right; it is OUR podcast. You see, we were semi-serious years back in wanting to do an archaeology podcast, "As the Trowel Turns", coined by us and countless others no doubt... I even made up a twitter account and posted snippets and pictures. We coveted this idea, yet had no time to deal with it. My Favorite Murder has everything we envisioned in ours; dialogue, intrigue and fun, except this one is about murder. The 2 chicks have a great chemistry with enough content, comedy and drama all in a laid-back style of letting it come out as it will. Their storytelling style is just easy to follow. I mean, I'm not even that interested in murder!  It is really about their dynamics.

So, I think I'm over the computer at this point in the evening and will move on to something more organic. Speaking of organic - trees, paper- I'm reading The Master and Margarita right now. Just started it so getting to know the characters.  This is always fun when entering into a new book that you are getting into.

UPDATE: Sweet kitty Shaika Spot was lying next to my feet and it just wasn't close enough and she had to get up and lay ON my feet. *Collective "awwww" I can hear from afar right now* The kitties and I had a fab reunion- as always.  Shaika is just lovey dovey, and cagey, and curious. Sami Bey is more introspective, I guess.  He is analyzing, wondering. He plays the good cop bad cop all in one, starting off as indifferent bad cop. Then when he's had enough shunning me, he creeps up to rest next to me, giving in to my affections, if cautiously. I love seeing his transformation.  The kits; their personalities are so different. Like kids, I suppose. Yea, family. My beast family :)

It's feeling pretty good to be back in the 'bul indeed