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