Cuttino's Georgian Life

A journal of my Peace Corps service in the Republic of Georgia, 2006-2008.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Crazy January, Part II

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople

Been a long time gone, Constantinople

Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night

How long do you have to be in Georgia before Turkey feels like the heart of Western civilization? My guess is only seven months. I travelled to Istanbul in the most complicated manner possible. I left for Istanbul on a Saturday, having just gotten my stolen belongings back from the police and crashing on my sitemate Lee's floor for two nights. Unfortunately, the plane tickets from Tbilisi to Istanbul are well out of my budget; in an effort to cut costs, I decided to take part of the trip over land.

On Saturday night, I left Tbilisi on a train bound for Batumi, a major Georgian port city on the Black Sea that is a few kilometers from the Turkish border. I was surprised to arrive at 6:15 a.m. in a tropical city with palm trees and mandarin trees. Those Batumi folks have it hard. I took a minibus to the border town of Sarpi and by 7:00 (or 5:00 Turkish time), I was standing in Turkey. I split a cab to the next town with three Georgian women. As usual, they were impressed by my limited Georgian and they took me under their wing the rest of the way. Gotta love those maternal Georgians! From there, I took a 3-hour bus ride to Trabzon, a Turkish port city notorious for its high number of "Natashas" (Russian women of ill repute). The only part of the town I saw was the airport--Natasha-free, of course. After sitting there for hours, I finally got a flight to Istanbul. I arrived at my hotel by 11 p.m., after 24 hours of straight travelling.

So, the whole reason for me travelling to Istanbul was to meet Jessica. She arrived from Jordan the next morning and we spent most of the day touring the city. Oh yeah, something else happened too, but you should check out her blog for the details. Long story short, we're now engaged. We spent the week in the city, ate a lot of good food and relaxed. How nice it is to be in a city where its clean and people stand in lines and follow traffic laws! Istanbul is a beautiful, beautiful city and it was so nice to be there with Jessica. If you want a nice romantic getaway, go to Istanbul...its better than Paris or even Myrtle Beach. Here's a photo of Jessica and me in Istanbul at the spot where I proposed; I posted more pictures on Flickr:

Next update: The trip home and more robbers...


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