Friday, April 17, 2015

Shenanigans, Part IV: Ruined!

Being Aussie, Time Lady was really looking forward to Gallipoli.  Being a student of the classics, I was excited to go back to Troy.  It was the whole reason I went to Canakkale the first time.  I love the story, even if - as Time Lady pointed out - it probably isn't true. Part of me wanted to bring movies and books and shove them down our kids' throats, like, "THIS IS THE TROJAN WOMEN!!!  DON'T YOU GET IT???"  The other part of me started thinking that next time I should tag team Lil' Miss Catwalk for our trip and let her shove the literature down their throats. 

At any rate, we set out from the Egem Pension at around 9 a.m. for Troy.  The breakfast there was not as nice as the one at the Antique Hostel, but we paid half as much for the room, so what do you expect?  Although we needed a guide and he was helpful when it came to communicating with the driver, Time Lady didn't think he was that good a guide, and I've already mentioned how much guides annoy me, so the plan was that the kids would kind of be in charge while we were at Troy, and refer to us or the guide if they had any burning questions.
How that worked out in practicality is that I was in the front with the kids who - like me - wanted to soak things in.  Time Lady was in the back listening to the audio guide and passing the knowledge on to her History Geeks.  In the middle we had Ekrem (which was actually an easy name for me to remember because it's fairly close to a Mongolian name, Erkhem), and a group of students who was asking him questions.  So actually, it worked out pretty well. 
At least one of our kids is an outspoken believer in aliens.  I'm kind of "live and let live" when it comes to alien conspiracy theories - the universe is a pretty big place and I see no reason why we should be alone in it, although I don't particularly think that means they built the pyramids - but it drives Time Lady nuts.  Luckily she was still further back when our girl said she felt like she was on an episode of Ancient Aliens and I had her pretend she was explaining something about the site for the show.

We finished up at the gift shop where some of us went a little crazy (and would have gone crazier if our money hadn't been on the bus...I personally would have done some serious shopping, but after my major purchase I handed the rest of my money over to kids who couldn't access their cash).  I asked the guide if they wouldn't let us go out and come back and he said no, which seems like a pretty ridiculous policy, considering several of us were all, "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!"  But oh, well.  We finally loaded up the bus and headed back to Istanbul, with a couple of stops along the way for the bathroom and food.  The rest area food was surprisingly good, but that's the regional cuisine for you and supports my theory that the prison food in Greece is probably pretty tasty.
So far everyone had loved the food but we hadn't eaten a real meal together and I hadn't really hit them with a truly fantastic restaurant.  I was hoping to really wow them with a restaurant before we left, either with music or something, and when I had my layover in February I wandered past Palatium, which is right down the street from the Antique Hostel.  The poster on their window showed that they'd been featured on the History Channel for their ruins of part of Constantine's Magnaura Palace, so I figured that would definitely wow them, but I wondered about the food.  One of our students recently became vegan and one of her friends was supporting her by joining her for the week, so we were looking to find something good for them as well...we hadn't had dolmades yet, and they wanted hummus.  Well, the night before in Canakkale Time Lady and I looked at the menu, and not only did they have good vegetarian options, they got good reviews on TripAdvisor. so we made a reservation (with some help from our guide, who overall did earn his keep) for an hour after we were set to get back to Istanbul.  It was everything we could have hoped for and more.  We sat at low tables on cushions.  The food was delicious, and it was really great to eat together as one big family.
After a good long chat we went down to the ruins.  A lot of Sultanahmet has just been built on what came before, and when the owners were doing renovations in 2000-something they discovered part of a palace, and chose to excavate, spending millions of dollars to open it up.  It was really cool to wander around in.  One of my 10th graders might be moving his way up in my list of favorites, thanks to the fact that during the trip he kept touching things because they were "old," and this is something that I also love to do - put my hand on a wall that has stood for thousands of years.  And then he just got ridiculous by touching his friends and saying, "I'm touching an ancient Munkhy!"

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