Day 25 – Istanbul

I woke up at 6AM.  I couldn’t believe today I had to be at the airport.  WHY!??!!  I need just one more day to say good-bye properly.  As I plotted ways to miss my plane, to figure out a way to wash dishes and afford an apartment, I said my goodbye’s to the lucky remaining students bound for Greece and Italy, and boarded the shuttle to the airport.

Luckily, I had company on the bus to talk to to keep my eyes from wandering off to look out the window at the Bosphorus, Mosques, Palaces, Businesses, and people.  I think now in hindsight, I would have teared and went into a mad frenzy in order to be deemed un fit to fly so that I could have another day or two there.  :-p

At the airport, I checked my bags.  It was official, I was leaving and had no other way out.  I hugged our tour guide Deniz, telling her not necessarily goodbye….

Somehow, I know I’ll be back…

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Day 24 – Istanbul

Our final full day in Istanbul!  NOOOO!!!

The morning was filled with me organizing my photos and videos, posting for the site.  (So bummed I lost my netbook).  Afterwards, we decided that a final trip to the Bazaar or to Taksim was in order.  We opted for the Bazaar as Taksim’s crowded streets could make it impossible to return in time for the Calligraphy workshops.

I made a final trip to the Grand Bazaar with Kipenzi and Yaneva in order to pick up a birthday gift for my friend.  The girls didn’t mind because they had shopping on their minds too.  We each had an idea of what we wanted and quickly went for it.  The shop owners are very aggressive when they know you’re on the fence about buying.  One even cornered me in his shop until I agreed to look at another color in a handbag.  When he went to get the other color, I took it as my opportunity to run!  His brother was standing by, pleading for me to wait.  Wow!  I felt bad for ducking out like that, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer.  Not all the shop owners are this way, so overall, the Grand Bazaar is like a shopping wonderland.  Time escaped me and I missed the Calligraphy workshop.  (I think I secretly began doing things on purpose so I’d have an excuse to come back).

Afterwards, we walked around Sultanhamet one final time to make sure we didn’t miss any unique businesses or entities.  Any last minute opportunities for interviews were on our mind.  I spoke briefly to a shop owner whose family owns a restaurant outside of downtown LA, but quickly found that answering business questions was not on his mind, but more flirting than anything.  *Sigh*

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to pack and prepare for the evening’s Farewell dinner.  Once we got close to the hour, Kipenzi had spoken with Professor Koc who invited us out for a farewell meal and opportunity to meet with other business owners in Turkey.  I weighed the pro’s and cons of missing out on the farewell dinner and decided that the meal with Professor Koc would be the best thing to do for me as pretty soon I’ll be relocating to Istanbul. :-p

So, we headed out to Set Balik, an AMAZING seafood restaurant off the Bosphorus.  I’m sure before eating there I had a favorite restaurant, but the delicious and savory bites from this restaurant had erased my memory of any competitors.  I seriously have a new favorite restaurant.  After dinner, we headed to Anjelique where we had an after dinner drink. The view and the warm evening air beckoned me to stay, to want to call this place home.  How could anyone not love Istanbul?

We had an early flight so we couldn’t stay long and network as much as I hoped.  We came back to the hotel and finished packing, I got the little sleep that I could before having to officially say goodbye tomorrow….

Day 23 – Istanbul

The day started with a visit to Starbucks.  I needed coffee for some reason, but food that wasn’t necessarily good for me more so than anything else.  I ordered a huge chunk of Lemon cake, that guess what, was good for me!  Turkey and their healthy fresh food, it’s not fair.  :-p   I looked around the starbucks and noticed that it was just like home.  People piled in on their computers and drank coffee, secretly being their own way of social by people watching.

After I ate my delicious yet healthy cake and drinking my white mocha, I met with my MBA comrades and we headed to the Chamber of Jewelry where we met with the Vice President.  Hold your seats – She’s a woman!  We sat down with her and asked her as many questions we could about being members of the Chamber and found out that Turkey has 153 Chambers for its separate Industries not to mention the main Chamber of Commerce.  Her English wasn’t that well, but she worked hard to translate as much as possible in order to help us.  I felt as if we walked into any Business office in America, the Vice President wouldn’t be sitting down to talk to us.  So I was very humbled and grateful for this opportunity.

MBA's at the Chamber of Jewelry in Istanbul

We then headed to the Sultan Ahmet Cammi (The Blue Mosque).  The beautiful cascading domes in the courtyard made this mosque unique along with the interior design that reminds visitors that they are small in front of God.

Blue Mosque's Cascading domes in Istanbul, Turkey

Afterwards, we headed to the Grand Bazaar where we met with Professor Koc.  He was patient enough to sit with us for almost 3 hours and answer all of our questions individually so that we could fill in the gaps with a lot of the information we needed that was only found in Turkish.  Thus far, the Turkish people have been extremely accommodating in helping when they can and that’s something that I feel everyone should do.  I can’t even fathom what a call to Customer Service is like in Turkey!

We then realized he was getting a bit weary from all the questions and decided to give him rest.  The rest of the day would be filled with compiling the remainder of our information and research. 

But not until after a trip to Ciya across the Bosphorus and on the Asia side of Istanbul.  The food was really good and I had lamb kebap that I didn’t want to share. 

Ciya RestaurantLamb SIRLOIN Kebap at Ciya in Istanbul

On the ferry back to the hotel, I captured a ferry performer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi5c9qukhew&feature=youtube_gdata

Turkish street music – Not bad at all