Was awesome. We got to connect with some old and new friends, and I was absolutely floored by how hospitable our Turkish friends were.
I'll give some highlights of the trip:
-On Tuesday, before we left, I woke up and Joel had a horrible toothache. He hadn't slept all night! He went to a dentist who told him to go get his tooth pulled at an oral surgeon! That morning, I was frantically trying to pick up some last minute trip items, finish packing, and then sorting out meds for Joel. He got home at noon with a chipmunk cheek, and his dad came to pick us up at 1 to go to the airport. CRAZY.
We got to the airport and checked our bags, went through security, etc...with 3 hours to spare. Oops. Then our flight was delayed, so we ended up spending about 6 hours in Raleigh...I just wanted to get on the plane and go, so that was a little frustrating. When we got to JFK, we had planned to change some money, but our flight out of JFK was leaving 20 minutes after we landed, due to the delay. Joel had to wait to get our checked-carry on bag, so he sent me ahead to find the flight (in a different terminal) and tell them to wait! I sprinted through the airport, all the while calling Joel on the phone to tell him how to follow me. We ended up getting lost and we couldn't figure out how to get to each other, but I found some friendly travelers who were also flying to Madrid, so I followed them. I was pretty stressed, but thank the Lord that we met up! It turned out that after we had boarded, the flight didn't take off for another hour, but I had passed out by that time. Our flight to Madrid was really long, but as it was throughout the night, I was able to sleep for most of the trip.
We got to Madrid with 15 minutes to board our flight, and didn't make it. To make a long story short, we did end up getting to Istanbul with some complications that I've already written about.
I'll fast forward to my favorite parts of the trip I haven't yet documented:
-On Friday, we met with my friend Julie who teaches there. She took us to Ortakoy to eat stuffed potatoes and waffles (AMAZING). I am so thankful for that time to see her!
-On Saturday, Olgun and Mustafa took Joel, me, and a guy named Steven out around all the touristy parts of Istanbul. We visited the Blue Mosque, took pictures outside the Hagia Sofia, and went to Topkapi Palace. It was absolutely wonderful!
-That night, Joel and I went out to dinner, just the two of us. We had a couple lunches from sidewalk cafes together, but this was the only thing we did out, just the two of us. We got to eat upstairs in this super cute restaurant, next to an open window looking out on to Istiklal. We got some yummy ice cream and then sat down for chai down a side street near our hotel. It was a perfect evening :)
-On Sunday, we shopped for lots of souvenirs, and then spent the evening with a family with whom Joel spent lots of time last time he was there. They're from the States but have lived in Istanbul with their two kids for about 5 years. They're both amazing artists, and he showed us a mural he had painted in Istanbul- I wish I had gotten a picture. They took us to a very cute park for dinner, and after dinner we spent a lot of time sharing music and they gave us some great marriage advice :)
-On Monday, we finished shopping and the guys took us out for one last meal in Istanbul-and baklava! It was delicious. I never actually went to sleep that night, and our taxi came at 4am to take us to the airport.
Our trip home was really long, more because Joel picked up a stomach bug and was sick the whole way home. Although none of our flights were delayed (praise the Lord!) it felt like we'd never be home. I slept very little on the plane because I was so worried about Joel. My parents picked us up at the airport, Pepto in hand, and graciously dropped us off at home to go to bed. This may sound really silly, but every other trip I've been on, I've always had to wait to see Joel because we didn't live together. I had this giddy moment when I realized I wasn't going to have say goodbye to him, and that was really nice.
That night, my head hit the pillow at 9am and I woke up 12 hours later. Needless to say, we were exhausted.
The trip was amazing, and I'm SO thankful we were able to go on this trip. I cannot wait to go back!
In other news, I'm back on Weight Watchers after a 2 week hiatus and a couple pounds more to show for it. I really hope to reach my goal weight by the end of the summer!