This was it, our final day. I don’t wanna go back! How can we savor our final moments? Well, without any money our options were limited. We’ll have to come back to the museums in the summer, which is probably better because we’ll want to escape from the heat.
Another walk through Istikal Street, a crowded pedestrian street lined with shops and restaurants and bars. During the day its not so grand, but at night it lights up with thousands of people doing their own Turkish xhiro, meeting friends for drinks (or backgammon, equally as popular here), and shopping. Istikal comes to an end where Galata begins; the main difference being that the road slopes steeply downward and the shops become a bit grungier. Near the bottom sits the Galata Tower, offering a panoramic view of the Golden Horn. There is a hostel and cheap eateries along that road, too.
Trinkets along Istikal Street
I completely neglected to mention that one of our goals while in the city was to search for bicycles to use on our trip after service. I had read online of a few recommended shops and we were really hopeful to find touring bikes, anything that might suffice. However, as it turns out the shops are really parts-shops, and I doubt we could find all the right parts to build our own bikes. The only possible shop, a Trek importer near the Galata Tower, well, it was a Trek importer. They had two bikes that may have been rideable, but were extremely low quality and overpriced. So… well you’ll see my bike rant soon.
The day passed quickly, and soon enough we were waiting for our 8 pm shuttle at the Metro station. Another chilly, groggy adventure at the border (everyone gets woken at 3 am to stand in a long line out in the freezing cold). When we woke up again the sun was peeking above the horizon, welcoming us back to Greece. With considerable more difficulty than in Turkey, we hitched our way back across the north of Greece to Ioannina, and from there bought the final scheduled bus tickets to the border. Its possible to hitch all the way home but we were dead tired and sick of standing roadside. Oh and as luck would have it, one of the guys that had picked us up runs an organic farm outside Thessaloniki. He looked more like an Oregon hippie to me than a Greek, and gave us a bottle of cherry raki that his mother made—it was actually delicious! (I hate raki, this was something on another level) He also tossed us some of the most mouth-watering tomatoes I’ve ever had. We’ll have to swing by the farm on our route for sure.
So now were back. It took several days for us to get back on schedule with work and friends. I’m still making the rounds, wishing people happy new years and scheduling coffee dates to catch up.
Except for the frequent downpours, I am convinced spring is just around the corner. Did I say that? Its only January. But a girl’s gotta hope right? Before I know it the sun will be shining brightly, we’ll be passing the days beachside, and I will no longer be wearing 3 thermal layers to bed… It’s the final stretch.
This year will be full of so much change for me. Not only will I be saying goodbye to the town and people and life that I have spent two years+ getting accustomed to, but Chris and I will embark on a new journey through some difficult territory. And by the end of it all, perhaps by the next Christmas season, I will be back in the States. I can’t even imagine what I will do. For now, I can’t think of that. I think I’ll go walk to our castle instead.
Unbeatable sunset over the Bosphorous, see you again in the summer!