The path that brought me (us) to Istanbul was a twisty one. There wasn't really any one epiphany, it was a series of decisions rather than a lifetime of yearing or a singular epiphany.
First there was Ireland a couple of years ago. On that trip, Bick and I saw a reality show (Top Gear, I believe)about three British guys touring Viet Nam by motorcyle. We got the itch to go to VN. Upon our return to the US, we saw another PBS travel show on Istanbul and then it became Istanbul or Viet Nam?
Then the Great Dental Bills of 2009 struck and I couldn't afford a big trip, so we ended up in Puerto Rico, instead. I didn't write about it, but it was a disastrous trip - for a myriad of reasons, most of which involved me trying to please everyone and failing miserably. I vowed never to travel with anyone else ever again.
I decided that I was going to spend a month on a Greek island and if anyone wanted to come and see me, they were welcome to do so, but I wasn't making travel plans, etc. for anyone else. So I started investigating a little more and Turkey has almost everything that Greece has, and in some cases, more. So then the plan became I was going to fly into Athens, Greece, got to an island and rent a small room for a while, then make my way to Turkey and fly out of Istanbul. Which became far too complicated - planes, trains, gullets and god-knows-what-else. And a month was not realistic for a variety of reasons. If I wanted to do all of those things in Turkey, I would need to join a tour. Well, the idea of joining a tour doesn't really appeal to me - although that may be changing. So I just decided to strike out alone and adding guides as I wanted/needed them in Istanbul. I decided not to go across the country, but to concentrate in one place and I wanted as near a "local" experience as I was brave enough to try.
But as I thought about it, while I do love to travel solo, I didn't know how I would do in so foreign a place and Pebbles has wanted to go to Istanbul since going abroad to study some years ago.
Which brings up the whole idea of foreign travel. I don't know that I would have ever considered it something that I would/could do. I mean, I loved to travel in the states, but "other" people traveled abroad. Fancy people. People with all kinds of money. And then Pebbles had to go for a summer as part of her academic program. So she went and we didn't die of starvation. And she was hooked and then international travel sort of became a possibility. And then she went back for a long semester and I scrapped together every red cent I could and went to visit. And it really was a life-changing experience. People who lived in trailer houses could travel. They could see things. It wasn't an experience reserved for others. If it was a priority, it could be a possibility. So here we are.
I asked Pebbles to join me and I bought her plane ticket. It was something that I wanted to do. When I was struggling out from under the debt, she worked very hard and maximized the value of every cent I spent on her education and graduated early. She didn't get the fancy wedding or the big high school or college graduation present. It's not like she was the match stick girl, but I was now in the position to offer this experience to the both of us. I paid for the hotel with points and her spending money was on her own (I think she spent about $350 US and I spent about $450 US while we were there). I recognize that the opportunity to spend that much time with my adult, married daughter really is special and that I am very, very fortunate to be able to take this trip. Kudos to Slater for being so supportive.
So that's the convoluted path I took to get to exotic and exciting Istanbul. It was a fabulous trip that I am still trying to take in.