Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Istanbul~Day One

Swiss villages wrapping around the mountains
We have officially arrived in Istanbul after what might be our smoothest transit to date. All flights were on time, the food was good and my husband actually managed to sleep a little on the plane. We flew Swiss Air, and the service was spectacular and the service amazing. I am very proud of myself because for the first time ever I worked up the nerve to get up out of my seat and pee. Little victories...

Once we arrived and gathered our bags, we headed to the exit where we were told someone would be waiting with a sign with our name on it. Great idea in theory, bt in reality there is a crush of bodies standing, each holding handwritten signs we then have to read. We split up and found our ride. There was a wait while our shuttle arrived, but after 24 hours of recycled airport/airplane air, and temperatures in the teens at home, it wasn't terrible. We arrived and checked into our hotel, Hotel Erboy, where we got a complimentary dinner for booking direct and a refreshing welcome drink that was a sort of lemony tea that felt good on my overly dry throat.

Hagia Sophia
Once we got cleaned up in our rooms and Skyped with our eighteen month old son, we headed to the restaurant, Pasazade Ottoman Cuisine for our free welcome dinner. Our meal included an appetizer, entree and desert. My husband ordered a cheese plate and I went with Arap Tava -- fried minced lamb and veal with green peppers and onions served over hummus. It was delicious. For our entrees, I went with Mutancene, lamb stew with apples, apricots, honey, almond, walnut, cardamom, and fresh herbs served on Antonian grain pilaf. Shawn ordered the Sultan's Favorite, Beef entrecote stew with sun dried apricots, apple, and almonds, seasoned with cardamom, fresh thyme, basil and rosemary, served with roast eggplant mush. Though we tried each other's dishes, a consensus was not reached on who ordered better, as we each preferred our own entree. A sampler platter for dessert was lackluster, aside from the star, a delicious balaclava. With the check, the waiter brought us a dish of Turkish delight. I didn't care for the mint ones, but the others tasted like a gummy lemon drop to me and I loved it. So on our first day, all my food goals are already filled, save for a genuine Turkish kabob which will come soon.

Blue Mosque
After dinner we wandered a little, finding our way to the plaza in front of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, where we snapped some pictures. After a long day of traveling and poor sleep on the plane, we decided to call it a night. On the way back o the hotel, I took a bit of a spill when I twisted my ankle on a raised cobblestone, skinning my knee and getting road rash on my hands. But I'll survive.

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