At the End of a “Çıkmaz Sokak”

The flight to Munich left an hour later than scheduled on Monday night because we had to wait for people whose flights were late and were connecting to our 6:00pm flight.

It’s a good thing we ate dinner at Tortas Frontera before getting on the plane. I saved the other half of my large chipotle chicken sandwich for when we were finally in the air. Other than that delay, there was little drama. In Munich, we had Lufthansa change our seating assignments because initially they had all four of us sitting separately in different rows. The kids slept on the first leg of the trip and then again for a bit on the flight from Munich to Istanbul.

This is what all of our stuff looked like when we arrived at Istanbul airport.

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I don’t know how you pack for 10 months living overseas for two adults and two children.

On our trip into the city we did not get taken by any cab drivers. Though we did hire a larger taxi so that we could fit all four of us and our luggage for a grand total of 60 lira, which is the equivalent of about $30.

Stephanie had printed out the address to the place we are staying at temporarily. The apartment we’re renting for our stay won’t be available until the 8th of September. So a friend of our Landlord-to-Be (LTB) is letting us stay at a place she owns for the two weeks until the other, larger place is ready.

The cab driver was nice and we conversed a bit in broken English and broken Turkish about our reasons for coming to Turkey. We arrived with all of our luggage near our apartment.

The apartment is near Taksim Square (yes, the one you might have seen on the news), off the long pedestrian shopping street Istiklal, tucked into the very end of a cul-de-sac, called a “Çıkmaz Sokak.” The cab driver couldn’t drive down the short road because of all the tables and chairs set out on the street filled with people, who were eating and drinking and talking. Even if the street was clear he would only have been able to drive down and then back up. I don’t think there is enough room for even a Smart car to turn around.

We pulled our luggage down to the end of the cul-de-sac to the apartment building. We were 10 minutes early and our LTB and her friend were not yet there.

Two men who had been been sitting at a table nearby walked over and offered to help us. It was obvious that we were foreigners. We explained we were renting an apartment in the building. Stephanie pulled out our LTB’s cell phone number and one of the men used his phone to call her to let her know we were waiting there for her.

We thanked the men profusely.

Then we got to witness a sample of Tayyip Recep Erdogan’s pettiness. We were settling in to wait our LTB and her friend when people at the tables started to get up and scramble about. We heard cries of “police” repeatedly. Waiters and customers began moving chairs and tables off this dead-end street and into the restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Non-uniformed men walked briskly down the street holding up their camera phones to take pictures and video of the offending restaurant, cafe, and bar owners who had tables on chairs out on the street. They were followed by members of the police who grabbed the chairs and tables not yet brought inside and confiscated them. I’ve never seen police just carry away a chair or table.

The proprietors of the eateries were not happy and they let the police know it. There was a lot of shouting and hand-waving.

Several people we talked to explained that this kind of thing had been happening recently under Erdogan. That the store owners hadn’t paid their bribes to the local police.

(As I’m typing this, tired, sweaty, and jet-lagged after 9 at night, but still only after 2pm “my time,” there are now more tables and chairs out on the street and very few are empty.)

Our LTB’s friend arrived shortly afterward, and the two men who’d helped us spoke to her and they all shook their heads about what the police had done. Our LTB arrived after her friend let us in and took us up to the apartment. It’s on what we would call the second floor. So we lugged our luggage up a wide circular flight of stairs.

The apartment was dusty. She recommended a place across the street from the apartment for dinner, which we took.

The Turkish-style salad and mushroom pizza were excellent. This was my first taste of Ayran. I can’t say that I liked it. Boy, is it salty. It was not the refreshing drink I was looking for after a long day of traveling and landing in a hot city. I might give it a try another time.

Meredith was in a recalcitrant mood. She refused to put on her shoes before left for the restaurant, only doing so after we told her we were going to leave her at the apartment. Then she refused to sit at the table with us.

This is her trying to hide under the chair.

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Then Meredith refused to drink or eat anything. A few of the waiters tried to cheer her up. One managed to gently pick her up and place her on the chair and he even gave her a piece of candy, which she tried and did not like.

“I want to go home,” said Meredith, with her knees pulled up to her face. “Can we go home after tomorrow?”

We explained that no, we can’t do that, even though we miss home, too. After consoling her a bit more, she said she didn’t want to stay “more than five months” and then asked for some red cherry juice and she drank that.

When we returned to the apartment we took out some of the framed photos I had packed and set them on shelves around the place, Stephanie complimented me for bringing the photos. Meredith wanted the one where Henry was holding her when she was a baby.

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I unpacked it from its thick wrapping of clothing. Meredith took it and put it in the room she and Henry will be sharing temporarily.

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6 thoughts on “At the End of a “Çıkmaz Sokak”

  1. We miss you guys lots! We’re so excited for you to begin this new adventure. Sending lots of love and (eventually) a care package so start taking notes on what you’re missing/want from home. Love you all. Please tell Sir Henry that I’m counting on him to help his sister to adapt to living abroad since he’s a veteran ex-pat. XOXOX

    • Thank you, my friend! We know we’re going to move on past these bumps eventually.

      We’re telling people that the price for staying with us (when we get settled in) will be a jar of peanut butter plus some things to be determined as we find out what things from home we love but can’t get here.

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