NOTE: Please be kind - while I'm typing in English, everything about the site is coming up in Turkish, so I'm having to guess a little at where the various controls are!
Yes, arrived safely in Turkey; not even a whisper of a problem. My luggage arrived at the same time I did and I even met two very nice San Franciscians on the Munich-Istanbul leg of the trip. We shared a cab and trust me - we bonded over that, since traffic in Istanbul is a contact sport. It's as if everyone is trying out for So You Wanna Drive for NASCAR? only with jaywalkers.
After a few wrong turns and a false start, I found the conference hotel (it was booked; I'm staying in an "overflow" hotel, which is very nice. I border on being suspicious, but I have to remember that I stayed in too many youth hostels in my misguided youth.) During my walk, I noticed some things that are worth sharing. In no particular order, my first ten observations:
1. It's common for friends of the same gender to walk with their arms around one another. Personally, I like it - I think Americans are a touch-starved culture in many ways. We lust, we don't connect.
2. Lots of wickedly-fancy embroidery and sparkly stuff beckons from tiny windows.
3. About half the women I've seen wear headscarves. A few go more extreme and are head-to-toe in black, but their faces are visible; it's not the whole nine yards of the chador. (Sorry if I get my terms wrong, but I think you know what I mean.)
4. Everyone smokes. Two packs of cigarettes were in the "courtesy package" in my room.
5. When flying for a long time, buy Airborne - and use it regularly! I'm always stuffy after an international flight and I feel fine right now.
6. When given the chance to take a trip like this, don't listen to the nay-sayers. Pack and high-tail it to the airport!
7. Be willing to get just a little lost. You can always catch a cab and yeah, you might get overcharged. Your point would be . . . ?
8. Don't travel halfway around the world to eat McDonalds. If you're going to do that, save the money and just stay home.
9. Yes, it's weird to hear wailing calls to worship being blared from loudspeakers mounted on minarets. Wonder what a practicing Muslim would think of Bridges BBQ? Oh, wait - I know that one.
10. This is no place to be careful about what you eat! I experimented with carpaccio tonight for dinner; a seasoned, marinated, near-raw beef dish. Might never try it again, but it was pretty tasty for a one-shot. Can't be any worse for me than candy corn.
And no, no one says "gobble, gobble." More later - and think kindly of me! I present tomorrow.