20.03.2013 - 20.03.2013 14 °C
We crossed over from Asia to Europe today.
It was going to be another long drive, about four hours to Istanbul and another hour meandering the streets and getting to our apartment. We packed up and headed out of the country's capital, ready for Istanbul.
The landscape gradually shifted from busy city streets to rolling hills to flat plains. The highway was relatively new and smooth, and eventually everyone except my Dad had drifted off. A few hours later, we took a break and headed to a roadside pit stop that included a restaurant, a gas station, and a convenience store. We chose from a slightly overpriced buffet of basic Turkish fare, the likes of which were exceedingly average. The desserts were pretty good, though. One of them was kadayif, which was made of crunchy, wiry strings of dough, sprinkled with nuts, and soaked in syrup. We couldn't name the other one, but it was chocolaty and delicious. The restaurant was odd, spread over a large, open space that looked like it might've once been a gym. The chairs and tables were massive and wooden, like you might find... well, I don't know really. In a medieval lord's house, perhaps? They certainly looked very awkward in their current surroundings. We left satiated, pausing briefly to inspect a large case in front of the convenience store that was filled solely with fancily packaged chestnuts.
We drove for another hour or so, and finally came to the metropolis of Istanbul. As we crossed the bridge that arced across the Bosphorus, we waved goodbye to Asia and said hello again to Europe. The traffic was not as bad as we'd feared, and we soon located our last Turkish home. We brought our bags up the four flights of stairs to our apartment, which contrasted starkly with the rest of the building. The door is rusty and covered in old advertisements and stickers. The staircase is dirty and smells like mildew and garbage. But our apartment is bright and white and spotless and comfortable. Abby and I have to share a bed, but our room is big enough and we even have a vanity. There's a real shower with a mounted nozzle (which is always a treat in Europe, as you never know what you'll get), and a little dining corner away from the kitchen. The only real flaw is the lack of kitchen implements. But we've gotten used to this, and have actually become quite resourceful. Mom and Dad went to return the rental car, and then we got right to settling in.
We picked up some fruits and vegetables from the back of some guy's truck and purchased some essentials at the closest supermarket/convenience store. Abby made her best attempt at the lentil soup we'd learned to make at our cooking class, which turned out well considering the fact that we couldn't find all the ingredients and she didn't have a recipe. We planned some minor festivities for our halfway day, Day 132, when we'll have completed the first 50% of our trip. It feels like it's taken forever. It also seems like we were waving goodbye to Grandpa at the Victoria International Airport just yesterday. Istanbul's our last Turkish town. It's not going to be easy saying goodbye to the country after six weeks.