Cody, Ariel, and I began our trip bright and early on a fateful Wednesday morning in the middle of June. We flew out of the Omaha airport, barely making it past security with all of the GPR and boroscope equipment to catch our flight on time. From there we flew to Minneapolis and then to JFK’s airport where we ate our last real slice of American pizza at Sbarro before boarding the 8 hour flight to Istanbul. During the flight, I got a chance to watch Country Strong, an excellent movie which I would highly recommend. Another flight highlight: Cody being used as a human pillow by the Turkish woman seated next to him.
When we arrived in the Istanbul airport the next morning, we were exhausted. Our taxi man was waiting for us with a sign that read ”Cody Buckle”. After checking into the hotel, we showered and napped. That afternoon, I awoke to a phone call from two other girls who go to UNL and were also in Turkey to work on the Temple Project. Once Cody, Ariel, and I were fully awake, we met up with our fellow Nebraskans - Alex and Raquel - and had some Turkish tea (cay).
The rest of our time in Istanbul went by quickly. In the next two days we were able to see the Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, the Topkapi Palace Grounds, and (my favorite) the Grand Bazaar. During one of our many trips to the Grand Bazaar, we were introduced to a Turkish man nicknamed Antonio who ended up selling Turkish carpets to Cody and Ariel.
On our last day in Istanbul, we met up with Al at the hotel who had just flown in from London. We were very glad to see him and feasted at a fantastic restaurant near our hotel to celebrate his arrival. It was at this supper where we first had ”poofy” bread, an amazing thin crusted bread with sesame seeds which is baked in some kind of special oven so that it rises and becomes the most delicious bread in the entire world. It was definitely a life changing experience.
After dining, we caught a taxi to the otogar (bus station) where we then boarded the bus which we spent the next 12 hours of our lives in. We rode from Istanbul to Gazipaşa stopping at various towns along the way. I slept much of the way being very exhausted from the sightseeing in Istanbul and still very jet lagged from the plane flight. Best part of the overnight bus ride: free snacks, drinks, and hand sanitizer every hour.
When we reached our final destination of Gazipaşa, Cody and I ventured out to discover the location of our hotel which we found after asking a store owner for directions. While it was relatively easy to find the hotel, it was rather difficult for Cody and I to enter it as the doors pushed inward and we were pulling outward. That afternoon we settled into our hotel, falling asleep on the floor of Ariel’s room since both my roommates and Cody and Al’s roommate had adventured out of the hotel and had taken the key with them. Finally, after our naps, we were semi-rested and ready to explore the amazing wonders of Gazipaşa.