Longest Post Ever

(Wrote this yesterday and then couldn't post it... so here it is!)

Today I spent my 28th birthday in Antalya, Turkey. It was… a birthday to beat the band.

I don’t know what it is- whether it’s just spending the time making the kids’ birthdays special, or just getting older, but I find lately that I just like to do quiet, happy things with my family and friends on my birthday. Which is to say, I’ve gotten stodgy. No parties for me.

We left Istanbul on the 9th, leaving this delightful room behind.

What the photos don't show is the smell of the toilet, across the hall, or the five (six) of us sleeping like sardines in there with all our bags around us, or our children jumping around in a tiny confined space until our brains were all shaking rapidly in our little skulls.

Nor does it show the price. Does anyone want to guess? Hint- it might not be what you think.

But we headed out of Istanbul and flew to Antalya taking a one-hour flight that barely felt like flying. The flight attendants rushed to get the snacks out and pick up the trash and then we were landing.

But wait wait wait. I didn’t tell you anything at all about Istanbul. Let me backtrack and give you some of Istanbul in a few choice photos.

First, let’s talk about Turkish Delight.

The White Witch tempted Edmund for nothing. All he needed to do is go to Istanbul.

Because there’s plenty of Turkish Delight for everyone.

And it is truly delightful. The kids are waiting for their share.

If you prefer baklava, don’t fret, you could throw a bunch down on the sidewalk and roll in it, if you choose.

Here’s our good friend from back home contemplating her baklava choices.

But forget about Turkish Delight for a minute. Check out the Grand Bazaar.

It’s very, very old.

And cool.

You can buy beautiful lamps, but you won’t be able to afford them. Or-er- I won’t.

You could also buy brass stuff, if you wanted.

But forget about the Grand Bazaar, because there are also cool buildings and sights in Istanbul.

Like old pillars.

Or the Blue Mosque.

Or this beautiful wood building with decorative flower boxes.

And there is plenty of Turkish Coffee.

But back to my birthday. Okay, so we landed in Antalya, only to discover that the guest house that we had planned on staying in was closed. We stopped in our taxi to get out and try to get our bearings, and happened to stop right beside a guest house that had two adjoining beautiful rooms for us, run by a Dutch woman who had immense sympathy for me as I waddled in with a sleeping Leafy in my arms.

I felt like maybe Antalya was heaven. The air was balmy, there was a garden for the kids to play in, with real live tortoises for them to feed, and a beautiful room with space! And a shower! We ate a late dinner under the trees (never managing to wake the jetlagged Leafy Boy up) and met up with a bunch of the friends that we will be camping with. It was wonderful.

And then, this morning, I woke up to the sun. Oh, well, okay, I actually woke up to the jetlagged Leafy deciding it was time to play at 5:30, but forget about that. Anyways, Chinua got up with the kids at 6:30 and let me sleep longer.

We had Turkish breakfast in the garden: a plate consisting of a boiled egg, some bread, cheese, jam, olives and a couple of fruits and vegetables.

Later we walked around Antalya and picked up some stuffed bread to eat by the water. By the Mediterranean. I think this was the point that I realized how truly amazing it was to be spending my birthday in Antalya.

Then one of our friends watched the kids while Chinua and I took a little scooter ride around the city, dodging traffic, both foot and on wheels. We’ve done this before, a few times, and it’s always so special for us.

And then, the crowning touch:

Which is a whole story in itself and may have to wait another day. I’ll just say that it involved being punched in the backs of the thighs by a strong Turkish woman with oils on her hands, having previously had water thrown on me while I lay on my back in a 600-year-old dome. Also being scrubbed red from top to bottom, and rubbed down with soap like a little baby. Well, that’s pretty much the whole story. I guess it didn’t have to wait.