Turkey & Bulgaria

May 23rd - June 6th, 2003



Istanbul to Blagoevgrad

*Swissotel
*Plane
*Blagoevgrad


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May 25th

Dammit, I'm getting a cold (sinus and sore throat). I slept pretty well, though, waking at 4:00. I turned on the light and read for a little bit and waited for Christina to wake up. We'll see how long I last today.

We got moving slowly today, Inger sitting on the deck and sketching. About 9:00 we set out for the Swissotel for a buffet breakfast. Newspapers and Inger sketching. We're out on the deck, Christina playing SimCity right now, Matt reading Lirael, I'm typing this, while the sun cuts through the haze and we look out over the mouth of the Bosphorus, ships going every which way, near the Sea of Marmara. We can hear the noise of a celebration starting around a big soccer game. Shouting, drumming, singing. Lots of black, white & red flags on the streets. Sparrows have been haunting the tables out on the deck here, stealing bread, bites of omelette and whatever they could grab as diners left for other courses. I look at the houses on the hill, all red roofs and realize I am here.

Christina & Matt's neighborhood is so wonderful--narrow alleys, kids playing soccer below the window, gulls nesting nearby, swallows and sparrows and a pigeon sounding like a muezzin's first couple of bars, repeated. They're right by a mosque, so last night it was loud, but the muezzin must have slept in this morning because he didn't do his thing at all. I was waiting for him as I heard other ones distantly around the city. Or perhaps my wish spoken last night to stick a trumpet mute in his loudspeakers worked. He's not the most melodic of chanters. And he's loud and very close by.

The apartment is full of windows and their sultan's bed and things from their travels, even though this isn't their main home. A kilim on the floor from Cairo.

---

After our very long brunch, we took a taxi back to the apartment, and Matt & Christina's friend Mark was there with his wife and another couple they had been traveling with, unloading their car. We sat and had drinks and talked for quite a while. They'd been travelling around Bulgaria and into Turkey and now were ready for a long visit in Istanbul.

They went out to get lunch, and we packed up to get to the airport in late afternoon. The airport was pretty empty when we arrived, and it was easy to get on the flight. Very tight plane, but the ride was only an hour, and they did give us a dinner. Amazing. Arrived in Sophia, and while we were waiting for our baggage I phoned Jim. Could hardly hear him, because with the cold my ears wouldn't pop. Their taxi driver was waiting for us, and we took the ride through rainstorms south to Blagoevgrad. Green, green, country. Infrastructure clearly pretty minimal. The buildings a mix of lovely brick and plaster with red roofs and stark, ugly communist buildings.

Arrived at their apartment--a lovely large space, and met the dogs. Caspian was terrified of Inger and me, hiding in her crate but eventually she came out enough that we could feed her and she got over it. Adriana is lovely small and delicate and Cas is huge, but very gentle.

 

 

CaspianCaspian reading the news out the window.

 

AdrianaAdriana in comfort upon my bed on Matt and Christina's newly rebuilt porch.

 

Christina phoned out for lasagna delivery from the pizza place and lovely salad. We ate it and very shortly afterwards I had to go to sleep.


Turkey - 03.05.24 § Les Semaines Index § Bulgaria - 03.05.26

3793 people have travelled to Turkey & Bulgaria with me