Monday, June 12, 2006

Azerbaijan Visa

Awaking a bit earlier than usual, we headed out in search of the Azerbaijan Consulate, sure to be at least one bus ride plus one metro ride away. We have discovered something--Andy is having a harder time without coffee in the morning than Sonja!!! Goes to show that espresso (Sonja's usual morning caffeine dose) does not have that much caffeine, at least not compared to Andy's normal megacup of black joe. (Ha ha to all those friends who thought Sonja would have such a hard time going without her morning espresso. She's doing just fine on Turkish black tea!) Anyway, we left our home base of Sultanahmet for the first time with only an address and vague notion of the neighborhood where the Consulate resides.

The bus took us across the Golden Horn to Taksim Square, pictured here, where we decended into the Metro tunnels to take the train to Levent. Needless to say, there are 4 Levent neighborhoods. We just thought we'd start at the first one. That's as far as our limited knowldedge of Istanbul could take us, for our street maps only include up to Taksim Square. When we got off the Metro, we started wandering in one direction somewhat aimlessly, trying to convince each other to ask someone for directions. Somehow, Sonja, with her traveler's intuition, found the perfect shopkeeper to ask . . . in Turkish! "Nerede Sumbol Sokakki?" (We found out later the syntax was backwards.) Without hesitation, the kind gentleman took us to the back of the shops and pointed down the street, speaking in Turkish the whole time, signaling the directions. We were only two blocks away. In the middle of the residential neighborhood of Levent, between middle class homes and apartments, was a two story house with a guard post and flag out front. We circled around back, found the appropriate desk, waited our turn, filled out some paperwork, paid him some US cash ($40 each), and he told us to come back on Wednesday afternoon to pick up our passports with the visas included. Blind luck.

Andy caught Sonja in a chic pose waiting for the bus back to Sultanahmet.

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