Sunday, April 5, 2015

Euro Spring 2015 - Interlude - Reflections on Istanbul

Gad it's good to come up for air from all these picture posts.  And there's more, More, MORE, MORE.  You didn't listen to me in my first post when I said the pictures would come Vesuvius like.  But now that your computer is buried Pompeii like you wish you would have listened.

(pant, pant, pant, pant)

As I'm slowly nursing my way back to health from the exertions of Istanbul, I thought it would be good to just reflect on that experience.

I cannot believe how hard we pushed ourselves - I understand that some of what happened was a bit of circumstance like not knowing exactly what was going to happen during the photo tours but darn I thought we were supposed to be slowing down.  Well call this first phase a failure in that respect

Being gone is easy, getting gone is tough - Wife and I both have reflected during this first week or so at just how hard it was to get out the door whether it was Wife arranging for all the things that need to happen to maintain the home and economics while were gone or me arranging for all the things we need while were traveling.  Our thoughts related to our retired lifestyle were that we would take two fairly long (5 to 6 week) trips a year.   Now our thoughts are we'd rather just deal with the transition from home to away process once and maybe take just one really long trip (8 to 9 weeks) a year.

Loved Istanbul, Crossroads of the World - You go to a new place and you don't know what you don't know.  Istanbul was an exciting, vibrant, friendly place.  With the exception of the tourist core on the Hippodrome Park, we really were never bothered by any one.  And people were very helpful even when there were language difficulties.  And we saw and met so many people, visitors from all over the world; people from Iran, Abu Dhabi, and Kurdistan to name a few.

Only can take so much 'big' city - Being in Malta compared to Istanbul is like going to Albuquerque compared to New York.  Istanbul is huge.  We really only saw a fraction of it.  There were bunches of things we'd read about or were recommended to us that we never got to because of time, distance, and energy.  A week of all that hubbub is about as much as I can take.

Review of apps (so far) - I took on a number of apps and services for the first time on this trip and tried them all in Istanbul.  The overall results weren't that good.
  • Uber - Used them a couple of times in the very beginning.  I think the service is fairly new to Istanbul because there were not a lot of vehicles available.  Also I think they do more in the business/residential areas to the north of us.  Not very useful for the old town area we were in  plus both cases where we used them the drivers were not really at the location we were and we had to seek them out.
  • My Maps (Google Maps) - I tried to get this feature up and going just before we left on the trip.  Haven't been able to really figure it out or get access to it via my phone so pretty much a non-starter.
  • Speak and Translate - I reviewed a lot of translation apps before choosing this one.  On the plus side all you have to do is speak the phrase you want and it translates it.  But in real use if your data connection is too slow, it won't work.  And it takes time for it to translate which undermines its effectiveness when you are in a real life situation.  I found it best for putting in phrases ahead of time so I had access to them or could practice them.  
  • Trafi - This is an app that is suppose to help you figure out public transportation routes from where you are to where you want to go.  Only tried it twice.  First time it worked OK.  Second time it said I couldn't do what I wanted, but I figured out a way to do it.  From that point on we either were in a tight enough area to not need or had our guides with us.
  • TripAdvisor - THE WINNER.  This has been far and away the most useful app.  I used it to find places for us to eat at least four times during our 8 days in Istanbul and I've used it to find things we knew about because it seems to connect better with Google Maps than going to Google Maps directly.  That seems weird but its the truth
Okay, enough a break.  Back to pictures.  Want them done today so I can move on to Malta posts!


Renee Michelle Goertzen said...

I was pretty amazed at your breakneck speed in Istanbul. I always know I'm missing a lot in any city I visit, but I prefer less-jampacked days. It's interesting to see different vacation styles.

alexis said...

I am very anti-breakneck speed. Because I know I will forget most of what I see anyways I don't see any point killing myself trying to cram it all in.

Perhaps when the kids are older that may change.

Anonymous said...

The my maps app quit working... Glad you didn't spend a lot of time building a map. Your posts are great! It makes us want to go back to Istanbul.