First week in Istanbul:
- Arrived safely after 29+ hours trip from Thailand (holiday vacation spot) via Singapore and Moscow, including pick-up of 5 pieces of luggage awaiting us in Moscow (where we called ‘home’ for the last 9 years) and 2-hour transfer from Domedidovo to Sheremetovo airport. Check
- Unpacked 9 overstuffed suitcases managing to avoid recreating a beach effect in temporary apartment despite amount of sand we somehow managed to haul back with us (sure that was the reason for the extra weight, not that teeny-tiny shopping expedition to Sarin Beach). Check
- Survived school orientation and managed to get kids on the right school bus for their first day (granted, there was a tiny moment when I did almost send them on a bus to who-knows-where; seems I still need to get a handle on some of the finer points of communication with the Turkish people…apparently shrugs accompanied by raised eyebrows is not an affirmative response, even to detailed queries involving bus number, destination and driver’s name…I mean, you think if someone was calling you by “John” and your name is “Sue” you would do more than shrug?). Check
- Successfully imported 52.5 kg monster dog into Turkey managing to avoid any overweight or other penalties despite 50 kg excess luggage weight limit (thanks to dog’s awesome chaperon and the flexibility of the Russian transport system, ahem). Check
- Went on amazing tour of old city with our Russian friend (the one who navigated the perilous waters of dog importation and airline regulations for us); tour was guided by a wonderful man who brought to life historical wonders with fascinating nuggets of information and warm, upbeat demeanor (www.theultimateguide.com; if you come to Istanbul and have the chance to work with this gentleman, count yourself lucky – he takes guided tours to a whole other level, fabulous!). (Did manage to shame ourselves and Russian experience when we pooh-poohed the +5C weather, writing it off as ‘warm’ and not something for us seasoned veterans of 9 and 40+ respective years of Russian winters to concern ourselves about…the +5 and rain kicked our butts and at the end of the outside portion of the tour – which we beseeched with chattering teeth to be cut short – we literally dove headfirst into the awaiting heated car.) Check
…bought 3 Turkish SIM cards for phone and managed to register one phone before the 30-day period (wait 31 days and risk having your phone incapacitated);
…secured 3 residence permits so we are well on our way to the possibility of being able to customs clear goods shipment (next step: get goods shipped);
…learned 22 works of Turkish of varying degrees of relevance (not sure where ‘non-stop water’ will come into play, but it was on the Intro list of words of a published language book, so who am I to question?). Check
- …went grocery shopping AND cooked 1 edible meal, only ordering in pizza 6 times (Pizza Huts speaks English here, whoopee!). Check
(Note on grocery store: beautiful food, mostly identifiable to this ignorant foreigner; perk is the cool ‘escort’ system – when you are done shopping, a gentlemen waiting at cash register area puts you on a fast track to checking out, packs your groceries, and accompanies you to your car (or in our case, our apartment which is adjacent the store) for a mere 3-5 TL (approx. $1.50 – $2.50) tip. Took me a while to figure out why I was getting strange looks when I would load up 4 bags on each arm and lug them solo to our apartment…
Still to do:
- Convince Russian movers that they should now ship our goods to Turkey
- Convince kids that they really DO want to attend the cultural training they are signed up for next week, benefit of our company’s transitional support benefits (I appreciate it; not sure that a 12- and 14-year old will see the advantages)
- Convince dog it is okay to do her ‘business’ on the sidewalk. Our urban location is superb but patches of green rare.
- Figure out where the trash cans are on the street; streets are clean enough so where are the bins? Me and my plastic bag of dog pooh want to know.
- Figure out why the shoes displayed in mall stores are the size that would only fit a woman with bound feet?