After 20+hours of traveling we arrived at our “home” for the week in Istanbul. We’ve rented a little flat from Manzara Holiday Apartments, a company that owns a number of apartments for rent to tourists in the residential neighborhoods surrounding the Galata Tower. We sought out this company both for the comfort of an apartment as well as the authenticity of living in a local neighborhood, close to the tourist attractions but not set squarely in the middle of them.
Grace and Beth in the apartment’s tiny kitchen
We’ve rented their 2-bedroom St. George apartment. It’s small, tiny in fact, but so much more space than we’d have in even the best hotel. It’s simply decorated, mainly with Ikea furniture but also a few interesting old pieces like a trunk for a TV stand and a huge rickety cupboard for a closet in Grace’s room. It’s eclectic and suits our needs.
Grace checks out her new digs
We’re on the first floor, which in Turkey (and most of Europe) means actually the second floor (what we call the first floor, they call the ground floor). To get up to our apartment we have to ascend a steep, narrow, curved staircase. The paint is peeling in the stairwell and it smells musty, like very old building. I like that smell. Our neighbors seem to be several conservative families. Although Turkey is a secular country, it’s more than 90% Muslim. Most women we’ve seen around do not cover their heads but the women in our building do. One is even fully shrouded in black although her face is uncovered. The neighbors are kind but aloof. I’m sure they know we’re just another tourist family passing through their building, but they don’t seem to mind we’re here.
That’s not part of the living room, that is the living room
Stuffed eggplant and salad prepared for us by Manzara. It was nice to have dinner ready when we arrived but at 25 Euro each, I think we’d find a local fast food joint next time.
We arrived here exhausted Sunday afternoon. Manzara had prepared a light meal for us and stocked a few groceries in the fridge, both at our request. We settled in, helped Grace get comfortable in her new room (including hanging a black sheet over the window to block out the very bright streetlight outside her window), and tried to keep ourselves awake until a decent bedtime. With the 10 hour time difference and almost no sleep on the plane, we were all exhausted but knew if we went to bed too early we’d be up in the middle of the night. We kept Grace up until 5pm, I konked out shortly after 6, and I think Steve managed to stay awake until 9pm. It was a tough night for Grace but every time she woke up she’d go back to sleep quickly with her favorite lullabies. In the end none of us woke up until 7am so we truly made up for the lost sleep. We awoke to a cool morning and cloudy skies but that didn’t stop us from heading straight out after breakfast to discover this ancient city. More about Monday’s explorations tomorrow.
Grace and Beth outside the St. George apartment Monday morning, ready to take on the day.