The past three days here have been absolutely gorgeous. Bright, sunny, and decently warm. It got up to 14° Celsius, or 57° Fahrenheit today. Wow! Yesterday I took Lane on an adventure: to find a large Migros that was rumored to have celery and wasn't too far away. We found the Migros (and celery, as well as chocolate Coffeemate creamer, 7-up, Pepperidge Farms cookies, Philadelphia cream cheese, and M&M's, although those last three things cost way more than we'd ever actually pay for them). But the big find, in my opinion, was a park. A large park with lots of grass, a running/biking trail, and a gorgeous view, all only a 22-minute walk (with toddler in tow!) from my front door.
It's my new favorite place in Istanbul.
When I rounded the corner, not sure exactly what I would find or where I would be, only knowing that I was looking for the sea and that the Migros was near it, I was shocked. Beyond shocked, actually.
This is what I saw. Or darn close, anyways. Do you see what I see? No high-rises across the way. No busy street with crazy Turkish drivers on it. No street vendors. No people.
It was the first time in eight months of living in a city of 18 million people that I didn't feel like I lived in a city of 18 million people.
Just to highlight my new camera's awesome zoom, check out this photo up there. Do you see the sailboats? No?
This photo was taken from the same spot.
So, after making a quick trip out there yesterday and discovering this haven, if you will, I decided that I had to take Shannon down there as well. We got to go on a date last night, and while dates nowadays aren't what they used to be, our two hour excursion to the sea and to Starbucks for coffee, chai, and dessert was awesome. It's so good to get out and to just walk around without having to worry about if Lane is cold, if her hat is covering her eyes, if she's thirsty, if she needs a cracker, and so on. Don't get me wrong, I love doing those things for her, but for my sanity it's nice to have time alone with my husband without her.
Mmm, Starbucks. We go to Starbucks way more often here than we ever did in America.
Then this morning when the sun was shining and the day was promising to be beautiful and Shannon needed to get some work done, I decided to take Lane back to the park on the sea and actually let her play this time (since I was on a quest for the Migros yesterday we didn't have time to play).
Teeter-tottering to a 13.5-month old.
She had a blast.
See the park? And the sea? They're like thisclose.
I packed some crackers, a banana, some water, diapers and wipes, and threw her in the Ergo and embarked on an hour and half of Lane-centered fun (well, except for the 22-minute walk there and the 24-minute walk home). Swings. Dogs. Teeter totters. Cats. And slides. Oh, she loved the slides. (Unfortunately I don't have any pictures since it was just me and her and I can't help her down the slide and take her photo at the same time. Those will have to come later.)
Swinging. Incidentally this was Lane's first time in a swing since she's been really in control of her body. I think it was much more fun for her now than in the past!
By the time that we got home at close to noon, Lane was exhausted and hungry. I was exhausted and hungry. But I felt refreshed. Sun on our backs and wind in our faces without hundreds of other people thisclose to you really does do a body good. It does a soul good. And I think if I can have just a couple more days of it, I might be able to handle more bitter cold and snow (like we had earlier this week) if it's going to come.
If you complete the circle on the walking path you do eventually begin to "feel" like you're in a big city again. Ahh, but being midway through the path is glorious!
I love how God gives us just what we need when we need it. I grew up on the water: our house was about a 3/4-mile walk from the beach. Not a tropical beach, mind you, but the beach nonetheless, with majestic mountains on the other side. Everywhere I've lived except for Alaska has been landlocked, or if the specific state or country wasn't, the beach was still a long ways away. It hasn't mattered to me that Istanbul is right on the water because the only parts of the water I'd seen had massive amounts of buildings on the other side and reeked of fish because of all the restaurants lining the water.
Today I got a taste of home in the sun reflecting off the water with no 20-story buildings on the other side of it. I think we'll be frequenting that park a lot.
And just because she's cute. (Yes, I am a doting mother.)