Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 2 in Istanbul

I actually wrote this post yesterday but was having trouble posting from the Turkish based key board so here it is a day late.

Well ıt ıs offıcal I am totally knackered and totally fed up with this Turkish keyboard...

I have been in Istanbul for 7 hours and have been up for 31 hours without rest and feel a desperate need for a nap. After a whirlwind day in JLM I got on a sherut taxi and headed for my Turkish adventure. I receive what I like to call as the Israeli "hotel california treatment" when trying to exit the country (aka you can check in easily but we will give you hell when you try to check out) which included a personal escort to my gate by security, well that says something though what I do not know!

anyways I landed just before 8am into Istanbul and after an slow but no hassled entry was greeted by my colleague Nuri Tinaz and his wife at arrival who picked me up at the airport
My first 7 hours were spent moving into ISAM and then joining Nuri and his extended family for a breakfast brunch a lovely restaurant right on the Bosporus sea. Nuri said it would be a 3 hour brunch and I though he was joking but in the end we did have a lovely and very leisurely 3 hour breakfast of chatting staring out across the sea and going back to the buffet again and again for wonderful cheese to die for fresh fruit and veg and breads and even a straight from the hive slab of honey comb which I enjoyed generous portions of spread on chunky wheat bread.

On the way back to ISAM Nuri pointed out a number of religious sites such as a synagogue an armenian church and a mosque and then he said we will now visit a most sacred secular site as his wife pulled into a large modern shopping maul His wife daughter niece and sister in law all went to a dress shop while he helped me get cash form a Turkish ATM and buy a Turkish sim card for my phone Am now back at ISAM typing this and realizing I need to rest before I fall asleep here at his computer more later...

well day 1 was great, I even ventured out on my own for dinner and treated my self to a donner kebab dinner (thank god for menus with pictures on them) before retiring for the evening. Got a startling 4am wake-up call and am now aware that there is a mosque right next to the institute whose loud speaker for the call to prayer seem to face directly at my window. Today it is down to business, with meetings scheduled with potential research colleagues and articles to read.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

shabbat shalom from JLM

Well I arrived safely in Israel at about 1am this morning. I had a pleasantly uneventful flight and my friend Oren was waiting for me with a smiling face at Ben Gurion. I have a 24 hour stop in Israel before heading to Istambul tommorrow am.

It has been a great day, actually quite healing for I left Israel about 2 years ago under much more unpleasant circumstance, having to leave much of my things and reserach in Haifa when the conflict with Hezbollah broke out. After a long lie in till after 11am Oren and I went out for a quiet day in JLM. We revisited many of the local spots I toured in 2006. We took in some modern art and saw the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum. Went to Abu Gosh for Lebanese food, and then headed for a walk in Ein Karem. It was nice to feel the cool breeze in the air and the peace in my soul. In Ein Karem we got to visit the Church of St John, which supposedly houses the place where John the Baptist was born. While Oren chatted to one of the Franscicans outside I was able to take a few moments to pray inside. Much was on my mind, friend battling illness, news of a research colleagues death by email this am, my family and memories of stress and strain in 2006. It was great to lay those all down before God in prayer.

After a short stop for sorbet/iced cafe we visited The Levanons, the parents of my friend who housed be during my 2 and abit weeks as a refugee from Haifa. I had brought them a gift from Aggieland and they graciously invited us in for some fresh fruit from their garden and tea and we chatted. It was strange and yet freeing to walk into their house again with it all so familiar views.

Now I am back Oren's falt watching the shabbat sun set and getting ready to re-pack my bags for Turkey. I pray the rest of my trip is filled with such peace and grace as today.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Howdy from Charles de Gaul: Off on another adventure...

Okay, well it has been months since my last post but I am on the verge of another adventure so though it was time to blog again. I am headed to Israel and Turkey for a month and already it has been quite a trip.

I left Texas late yesterday afternoon, and late being the operative word.

The airport shuttle I had booked online weeks ago was over 45 mins late picking me up. The driver had only been on the job for one month and was nice, but well let's just say less than professional. At one point she was talking on 2 cell phones at the same time and I kept thinking, where are her hands...?!?!not on the wheel that was for sure!

About 30 mins from the airport, the van started to sway and make funny noises. Moments later our driver got a phone call that somoene had called the number on the van to say we had a very flat tire, mins later we had blow out, but made it safely to the side of 290 with whizzing cars around us. We sat there for 20 mins till another shuttle could come and help change our tire.

The drive did haul it after tha I made it to check in with less than 5mins before they cut off check in. Had not eaten since 2pm and it 8:45pm ran to wendy's grabbed a burger and ate it while running to my gate. When I got there they were half way through board...I just pray this is not a sing of things to come on this trip. The flight here was thankfully uneventful, so though I would blow my euros on net time to let you know the full story.

All being well I will be in Israel in 7 hours..and with that said...More posts to come...