Highs, no lows, and a fish sandwich

[Full set of photos here.]
I was pretty proud of myself for finding a cool, hip, brand new apartment close to the stadium through AirBnB, but beating myself up Sat night for not having printed any maps of the area, subway, tram, etc.  So that night after a short walk around my apartment complex (think gated community), I went to bed cheer-leading myself that in 12 hours I would have a map, and a pretty good understanding of the surroundings, and hopefully my press credential.   It all came to be.

Gary and Coach Fraser

I was startled awake at 5:53am by my first call to prayer, and while freaked-out for a second I knew pretty quickly it wasn’t a lunatic with a bull horn next-door.  Like hearing about the midnight sun in Alaska, you hear about the call to prayer in Muslim countries, but until you actually experience it, it doesn’t truly make sense (ask me about an 11PM car-crash-traffic-jam in Anchorage in broad daylight).  I woke a few hours later and cooked some eggs left by my host, got geared up and went on a 14.5 hour adventure.

First up was figuring out the tram system, then the metro, and a stop away from the stadium I ran into USA Wrestling’s Communication Dir. Gary Abbott and Greco athlete Chass Betts who were on their way to the main hotel, so I tagged along.  Gary had the press passes, so that was a big check mark off the day’s list.  There were some mats at the hotel so we chatted with some coaches and athletes and then Gary and I took the Metro to the venue.  After a 25 minute walk from the Metro station (uh oh, that will be a daily journey), we got inside and had a look around.  Pretty nice, cool folks running it, al systems go.  I left Gary and took the opportunity to do some sight seeing.

Spicy fish sandwich

I figured I’d take the train out across the Galata Køp bridge and wind my way back.  Peckish, I was looking for some snack and I stumbled upon maybe the most amazing sight a boy could see.  Fresh fish, lightly fried, spiced, on a fresh roll with some greens.  Why not have one? Well, because I’m stupid and thought I might see what else was out there, and I wanted a beer.  I walked along the fish market and got some neat shots, then happened upon a shady spot and thought I ordered a fried fish and a beer from a person who turns out was not a waiter.  The beer took forever and after 30 minutes I started asking about my fish.  During that time I was half-heartedly reading an article about Elvis Costello in the New Yorker and secretly wishing for one of those fish sangwiches.  Well, after 45 minutes I finally got the waiter’s attention and he had no idea about my order.  I took that as a sign from God and paid for my beer and went for one of the fishwiches.  So. Effing.  Good.  AND, because the spice market was supposed toe around there, I tried asking the fish monger how to get to the spice market by pointing to the spices and asking “where, where” and he just kept adding more, more.

Why not wash that down with a fresh pomegranate juice and for sport watch some 12 year olds smoke cigs and jump off the pier?  No, really, why not?

Continuing my backtrack I walked from the bridge to the main hotel where the USAW guys are at, along the way snapping shots in the great light.  After randomly finding myself in the Blue Mosque, turning a corner — literally turning a corner — to find an open air comedy performance.  Wha?  So cool, but I have to say watching comedy in a foreign language is like listening to a sporting event with no announcer, you feel the excitement, but can’t understand what exactly is going on.  I left that show and hoofed it to the Art Otel (So cheap they can’t afford the “H”!), and met up with Nate Engle, Craig Sesker, Jason Bryant and a host of other USAW folks.   Good times.  JB, Sesker and I got a bite of good food, and I took a walk with some Greco guys and caught up with Nate, Jason, Craig and Leigh Janyes at the Art.  Had another beer and after a few missteps on my tram ride, was back at my pad, 14.5 hours later and that much richer.  Oh, and I got Rochelle’s present already, which is a huge check off the list.

Tomorrow…We ride!

P.S. You do not want to be a rabbit in this town…

About Tony Rotundo