I got home from Istanbul last night at midnight. It was a wonderful trip. I will post on it in parts since I don't want to overwhelm you with a load of text and a barrage of photos. (Yes, I took photos!)
For this first part, I'll just lay out my reasoning behind choosing Turkey.
My first reason for choosing Turkey: I wanted to go somewhere that wouldn't bombard me with familiar happy Christmas family images. This is my first holiday season away from my family and it's been hard enough without being reminded all of the time that I'm not home drinking cocktails and playing board games with the clan. Istanbul had the requisite Christmas adverts and acknowledged the holiday since the city is quite mixed religiously, but mostly it was just another day.
I will admit that I cried in my baklava on Christmas Eve. The hardest part, I think, about being away from my family so long is that I'm experiencing so many things that I know they would love. Our family life revolves, in many ways, around cooking (and drinking) together. (Well, I mostly drink a cocktail and observe the cooking process, but I'm okay with that role.) Sometimes, I get quite homesick when I'm eating something that I know my family would love. I want to share these experiences with them and I can't, so I end up crying over my baklava in a cute little cafe in Istanbul on Christmas Eve. I Skyped them later, though, and felt much better. Thank God for the interwebs.
Secondly, I chose Istanbul because I've traveled mostly in Eastern Europe (none in Western Europe) and I wanted a change. I expected Turkey to be wildly different than most of my past travel. It wasn't as different as I expected since Istanbul is a huge, modern city, but I loved seeing mosques and different styles of architecture. I think I've mentioned before that sometimes I get worn out by travel and stop seeing the wonder of a new city. Istanbul, I think, recharged those batteries in many ways just because it was quite different than other cities I've visited.
I also chose Istanbul because I wanted warmth. There was a little snow on the ground when we landed and it was chilly the first couple of days, but the weather warmed up nicely and I enjoyed having the sun on my face and leaving my gloves and giant down coat at home.
After three days in Istanbul, the other ladies headed south to Cappadocia and I moved from our apartment in Sultanhamet (the old city) to a hostel in Taksim (the new town). I decided not to go to Cappadocia because I really wanted to stay in one place for the full week. They were happy with their trip, but I think I would have felt a bit overwhelmed and like I hadn't seen either place properly. Also, I love cities. I grew up in a small town and have lived in small towns my entire life. Currently, I'm in a small town. I wanted to soak up city life for the duration of the trip. I love nothing more than sitting in a foreign cafe and people watching and Istanbul delivered on both counts.
So, that's my reasons for choosing to go to Istanbul. I'll post later about the actual trip, my recommendations, and my impressions of Istanbul (both good and bad).
This post is brought to you by Dragonette, Big Sunglasses.