Leftover Turkey

This blog entry about the events of Saturday, June 11, 2011 was originally posted on June 13, 2011.

DAYS 8-9: “We’re done here,” I said to Jeff (imitating Edward James Olmos as Commander Adama on Battlestar Galactica), as we checked out of our room at the Orange Motel.  It was a rather abrupt checkout; we slept in until noon after a night of boozing in Olympos — and the staff was already knocking on our door.  Jeff was hungover and was waiting to “sweat it out,” while my strategy was to “throw it down” (as oppose to “throw it up” if you know what I mean).  It’s a post-drinking thing I do that keeps me from getting hangovers.

With two short days left in Turkey — and most of that time to be eaten up by being in transit — there wasn’t enough time to go to another destination.  So we casually spent the time relaxing and seeing the leftover things that we hadn’t seen in the area.  Time flew that last afternoon in Çirali though, and we only had time to check out the Genevoise Castle of the Olympos ruins, with its strategic position on higher ground above the cove.  With almost no time to spare, we took an airport transfer van to take us the 90 minutes to the Antalya International Airport for our evening flight back to Istanbul.  However, when we got there, our haste was a waste; the flight was delayed over an hour and a half.

“What are we going to do for two hours?” Jeff wondered.

“Drink,” I answered.  Obviously.

“Okay.  Yeeaah.”

We couldn’t resist the urge to hit up the bright lights of the airport’s Burger King first — an American fast food chain that I’d noticed had a bigger presence than McDonald’s — for the greasy, guilty pleasure.  To research the local spin on American fast food, I had the Bean Burger, which was served on a long roll (like the BK Chicken Sandwich).  Inside was refried beans molded into a patty, breaded and fried, and topped with American cheese and tomato slices.  (Not bad.)

We had time for a couple of last beers — this time Gusta, Turkey’s imported dark wheat beer — while that “Pa Pa Americano” song came on the speakers again.  It was our last real moment together, after traveling for over a week, a time for an analysis of what we’d seen.

“It’s my kind of country,” Jeff told me.

“Muslim, but liberal?”

“Nothin’ but beer and bitches,” he joked.  “I can get down with that religion.”

Sure we had only seen a mere fraction of what Turkey has to offer, but I think we did a good job with the time allotted:  days in the metropolis of Istanbul, with its nightlife and centuries-old historical buildings; the landlocked countryside of Cappadoccia, with its crazy rock formations; and the coast of the Turkish Riviera, where there’s history on the beach.  For both of us seasoned travelers, we came to the conclusion that Turkey’s offerings as a destination are cool and all, but at times they don’t seem too exotic.  “It’s just like Europe,” Jeff said, which isn’t too far off if you already live in the Western World.  When we met an American who was on a round-the-world trip at a bus stop earlier that day, the three of us concluded that Turkey was… “easy.”

“I prefer more of a challenge,” the American said.

OUR SUNEXPRESS PLANE BACK TO ISTANBUL’S SABIHA GÖKÇEN (SAW) AIRPORT landed just before midnight.  We grabbed our luggage and head to the terminal exit, and it was there we parted ways:  me to the Havas bus into town to crash on Meg and Alex’s couch one last time, and Jeff to the airport hotel within walking distance, for he had a morning flight the next day out of that same airport.  It was getting on the late side anyway because of our plane delay; Meg had texted me that Alex was already passed out and that she was staying up late for me.

“Deed it mayne,” I saluted Jeff.

“Deed it.”

“So you’re back in Munich and then Friday you’re off to Paris, and then…?”  (He told me he was wrapping up stuff at his Munich job before going to the Paris Air Show, also for business — although he’d mix pleasure in there somehow.)

“I’m back in New York on the [twenty-second,]” Jeff answered.

“Ah, I’ll be on the road trip,” I told him.  “I guess I’ll just see you in July.”

“Cool.”

The paths of two seasoned Asian-American travelers diverged at that airport door, but I was sure they would cross again.

TURKISH LEFTOVERS CONTINUED THE NEXT MORNING, as I took my Istanbul hosts Meg and Alex out for one last brunch before my afternoon flight at the main Ataturk international airport on the other side of greater Istanbul.  Meg suggested we go to one nearby area I hadn’t really seen yet, Sisli, Istanbul’s equivalent of NYC’s SoHo, with high-end cafes, hotels, and boutiques catering to ex-pats and Turks with money.

“Be on the lookout for Efes,” Meg told me and Alex.  It was Turkish election day, and by law, no restaurant was allowed to serve alcohol in attempts to prevent drunken ballots.  We hoped that not every place would be so strict about the rules, especially to a trio of Americans who couldn’t even vote.

“Do you have bloody marys today?” I asked the waiter at Kirinti, one of Meg’s go-to spots for beers and fancy brunch (despite its awful logo that made it look like the Max in Saved By The Bell).  Meg and Alex loved the place because they were one of the few establishments in the predominantly Muslim nation to serve pork in certain items — noted on the menu with a little piggy icon.

“Yes,” the waiter answered me, using his default answer about the bloody mary.  But unfortunately, the manager came over a few minutes later to explain the no alcohol law we already knew about.  In lieu of that, I broke a different “rule”  by ordering the traditional Turkish men & men breakfast — eggs stewed in tomatoes and onion (not a plate of two Turkish men) — with a side of bacon.

I finished off my brief culinary tour of Turkish food with lokum, otherwise known as Turkish delight, a popular dessert that tastes like a really chewy gumdrop in your mouth.  “I feel like I have five pieces of gum in my mouth,” I said, chewing down on one of the plain ones without nuts.

“Alex hates it,” Meg told me.

“Turks love that shit,” he said.  (Later I learned, they are less of a mouthful and a lot tastier when covered with nuts; picture above.)  In lieu of some Turkish delight, Alex poured us one last shot of Turkish vodka instead, before I departed for the airport. 

“Because we can,” I said proudly.  (Later, at the airport, I managed to find more alcohol at the open bar in the business lounge.)

Meg didn’t partake on the booze of course, as she was with child.  “Thanks for everything,” I told her.  “I’ll see you in New York?  When are you guys coming to New York?  And my ‘you’ I mean the three of you.”

They didn’t have a definite answer; in fact they were in the market for a bigger, baby-friendly apartment in Istanbul since their ex-pat stay would continue to be indefinite — but I knew at some point I’d see them again, whether it be back in America, or if I ventured back to the country of Turkey.  I don’t see why I wouldn’t go back; I mean, my first name is on fruit stand and bottled water everywhere.

There will always be leftover Turkey to see and experience; I barely skimmed the surface of where a traveler can go there, even for a package tourist.  There’s Ephesus, a beautiful city with the most preserved ruins in the Mediterranean; Troy, home of epic stories and the legend of a great horse; Pamukkale, a natural World Heritage Site of calcite pools that stagger upwards in pure white tiers; the ports and woodlands along the Black Sea; and much more.  Turkey is a big country after all, and there’s more than enough there to whirl a dervish at. 

WITH THAT SAID, THERE ARE LEFTOVERS IN EVERY COUNTRY I’ve been to so far, including my own home country of the United States of America.  That’s right; the good ol’ U.S. of A. — America… Fuck Yeah.  I have tons of American leftovers that I’ve never partaken in; can you believe that after all I’ve seen, I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon?  That and many more natural monuments in the American National Park system are about to be crossed off my list, for the next Global Trip has already been in the works. 

In the first entry of this Turkey blog, I mentioned that the trip was a “Turkey sandwich” in between two other trips — the first slice of “bread” being a week-long business trip to Munich, the other a grand cross-country road trip across this great land of ours* (*if you’re American).  New York to San Francisco, from sea to shining sea.  The only reason why the road trip comes so soon after this international one is because of timing; I’ll be tagging along with my old childhood friend Cheryl, as she relocates to the West Coast to be with her boyfriend Andy, who recently took a job in the California Bay Area.  We simply need to get her car over there, and are going to stretch out the road trip over two weeks to spend time in whatever American leftovers we can see on the way.  Whether or not my first name will be on a sign or label along the way is something yet to be seen.

STAY TUNED; THE GLOBAL TRIP CONTINUES JUNE 20TH…


FUN FACT:

Jeff and I had a conversation with this British family at a beachfront restaurant in Çirali.  Amongst them was a little three-year-old boy who was too young to understand the concept that everywhere they were on their holiday was in the country of Turkey; he only associated being in Turkey with being at their hotel, because when they arrived, he was told that they were in Turkey.  “When can we go in the van and go back to Turkey?” he asked his mum at the restaurant, playing with his Batman and Spider-man action figures.





Next entry: Last Adventures On The Atlantic

Previous entry: Pirates Of The Mediterranean




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Comments for “Leftover Turkey”

  • Now I´m done with you… at last! And I even get to be the first one in leaving a comment. Now I can say that I’ve read all of your travel stories since the first day you decided to travel the world in NY.  It has taken me a while though.  I´ve been reading your stories in my office, on my cellphone, everywhere…, and I´ve just loved them. I’ve had a wonderful time with them.  Thank you very much.  You have been a wonderful company for me during difficult times of my life…, you have taken me to wonderful places, made me taste delicious platters, and made me dream of different and distant cultures.  Thank you very much again, Erik Trinidad.  SBR. Paco-Sapin.
    P.S. How can it be that I´ve been to the Grand Canyon, and you haven´t?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/13  at  04:54 PM


  • Paco:  Thanks, that means a lot to me.  A lot of times I’ve been questioning whether or not it’s been worth it for me to continue doing this.  Thank you for some validation.

    Stay tuned for more.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/13  at  05:27 PM


  • Okay, I don’t feel too badly if you, a world traveler, have not yet been to the Grand Canyon. I would recommend Arches National Monument - it’s lovely.
    Maybe I’ll see you on the West Coast (is the best coast!).
    BTW, I really wanted that top picture to be savory, not sweet. (Not like you care… wink)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/13  at  08:39 PM


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This blog post is one of nine travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Jive Turkey," which chronicled a trip through the Eurasian country of Turkey.

Next entry:
Last Adventures On The Atlantic

Previous entry:
Pirates Of The Mediterranean




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Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

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