Turkey for three

Last month, Sergey, Jasmine, and I set off to Turkey for a whirlwind adventure. After reading Rick Steves’ guidebook nearly cover to cover, I had put together a brutal itinerary that would test anyone’s traveling mettle—there were just so many things to see in so little time! And now so much to write about! If I get a book offer, then I’ll be sure to include every single detail in the manuscript, but for now I’ll stick with the abridged version of our six days in this ancient land, starting with…

Day 0: After a two-hour flight from Tel Aviv, on which we were treated to Turkish Airline’s “gourmet” airplane food, which they even allowed us to preview by passing out menus before serving us as if we were attending a fancy wedding, we arrived in the Istanbul airport. That was when I knew we had officially entered a different country: rather than the drafty buildings of Israel, which apparently chooses to ignore winter rather than react to it, the terminal was heated to the point of discomfort.

We met a person working for the airport transfer company, which manages rides from the airport to hotels, and noticed an apparent typo in his information: we were going to be taken to “Hotel Nomade” rather than the place we’d reserved, “Noah’s Ark.”

“Maybe that’s its Turkish name?” I speculated. Turkish is all Greek to me.

So, after informing him of the mistake, we got into a big van with a silent driver. Well, he was silent aside from phlegmy coughs and wheezes. In the old city, we pulled up in front of the correct hotel, with its “Noah’s Ark” sign, but something was clearly awry as shutters covered its entrance.

Wordlessly, the driver pulled away then backed his giant van all the way down another street, where he got out and removed our luggage.

“I guess that’s our cue?”

We disembarked. No hotel was in sight, just a restaurant packed with night owls, but then a man appeared and helped us with our luggage into a small building beside the restaurant.

“Did Noah’s Ark tell you about the situation?” he asked.


“They closed. Out of business—two days ago. They rebooked you in this hotel.”

At this point it was 1:00 AM, and we weren’t about to start researching another hotel, so we accepted the room. The triple was fairly tiny and bare, and one patch of the fake wood floor felt like it was going to collapse every time we stepped on it, but at least there were beds.

Then we noticed the bathroom. It had glass doors. Right in front of the toilet.

We did some research and found that this hotel was recently renovated under the guidance of a French designer. So, apparently this designer valued classy touches like glass doors over boring orthodoxies like privacy. In my humble design opinion, glass doors are good for places where you’d like a clear view, such as a garden or yard—not, you know, the toilet.

(Also, to compound the bathroom problem, through a vent near the sink, we could clearly hear our neighbor’s conversations when they spoke in or near their own bathroom. Nothing scandalous, but still–what did they hear us talking about? …Probably about the bathroom.)

Long story short, we spent nights one and two at this hotel after redesigning the door by draping it with the closet’s curtain, then moved to a better hotel a few blocks away. Never before had we been so happy to behold a blessedly solid, opaque door to the bathroom!

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