Being a hopeless romantic, any suggestion of a fairytale-like adventure would fuel the fire. One such occurrence happened during a fun-filled adventurous girls trip to Turkey.
I had recently broken up with the fire hazard hoarder (a couple months before) and my friend, Miami L, had just broken up with her boyfriend as well. Chicago L rarely bothered with boyfriends as she says she lives vicariously through me and has suffered enough through my disasters. (I think she’s waiting for her Prince Charming to just show up on her doorstep special delivery along with her online shopping order. (Maybe that should be my next challenge 🤔) This was truly a single girls’ trip.
Miami L was the mastermind behind the planning of our glorious two weeks in Turkey. She missed her calling as the ultimate travel planner as she can whip up a jam-packed itinerary that will make your head spin in less than 48 hours – with all details included. Chicago L and I felt a little guilty for not contributing much to the planning. However, for every one item we researched and put on the table for discussion, Miami L already had it and ten more researched, pros and cons listed, availability, price, etc. So all our efforts paled by comparison.
One thing we all did participate in choosing was our tour guide for Istanbul. Miami L was very organized in researching guides, inquiring what they offer, their availability, and their price. The three of us reviewed the responses and finally came down to two. A man and a woman. We decided to use them both on separate days. The one thing we realized was that while they can ask if we have any disabilities hindering stair climbing, walking long distances, etc…..we should have asked them the same question! The man we hired seemed to have a bad varicose vein problem and stayed on the ground floor of the Hagia Sophia while we were left to explore the art above on our own and then receive some explanation afterward.
The woman we hired, however, was beyond amazing and if anyone is considering going to Istanbul and is wanting a private guide, please email me! Our last stop with her was to a rug store, a reputable one, for Chicago L to look at authentic Turkish rugs for her home. After a lengthy showing, and a little wager between myself and the salesman, Chicago L bought her rugs and we were treated to an amazing dinner with a view of the Bosphorus.
Chicago L returned to the US after Istanbul but we continued on to Izmir where we bought our own rugs (without negotiating dinner) and then to Cappadocia. This is where things got interesting. Miami L had booked a sunset horseback ride in the mountains of Cappadocia….yes the very phallic looking mountains they call fairy chimneys.
There were four of us on this ride with the guide. The horses knew the mountains well so I wasn’t too worried about their footing, even though my horse was in heat and seemed to have a real attitude! The only male tourist on the ride made the comment “I don’t think this is a beginner’s trail!” while wearing his helmet and hanging on for dear life.
After the ride, in true Turkish fashion, we were offered tea or wine before being taken back to our hotel. As we were nearly the last ones there, the last two gentleman who were there also offered to take us to dinner, promising to see that we made it safely to our hotel. Risky? Probably. Both of the men had ties to the stables so if anything happened to us, it would come back on the stables (or not if we just disappeared never to be seen again). I don’t think we had drank too much wine when we agreed to go. Thinking back on it now, we were probably not making the smartest decision. It actually turned out to be a real treat though, especially with my gluten allergy, as one of the men, Turkish Aladdin, was able to arrange a dinner prepared especially for us, completely gluten free.
The two men were charming, entertaining, and the dinner amazing. I suppose they found us just as charming as they invited us out for the remaining two nights of our Cappadocia stay. It turned out that one of the men supplied rugs to stores all over Turkey, hence his nickname, Turkish Aladdin.
I suppose we both were enjoying the attention and the adventure given our recent break ups, however, I don’t think we had fully thought about possible consequences. They invited us for dinner and another horseback ride the second night because it was their “full moon” ride. Apparently it was something they did every month and there really was a full moon the next night – we checked! We were picked up from our hotel by a driver from the stables. There were several people there for the dinner that had been prepared gluten free (yes I felt special). Many were in suits (which made me think they were not staying to ride horses). My suspicions were confirmed when we saw that only four horses had been saddled for the ride following dinner. It turned out to only be the two gentlemen, Miami L and myself going on the ride. I had a fleeting thought “oh isn’t this cozy and convenient?” but wasn’t too worried as they had been perfect gentlemen the night before.
However, once we had ridden the horses to the tops of the mountains (which, by the way, was amazingly beautiful in the full moonlight even though somehow I ended up with the bitchy in-heat horse again) we stopped, tied the horses, and the men pulled out a bottle of wine and glasses for the four of us. It was romantic, but also a bit cliché. Turkish Aladdin was coaxing me away from Miami L and the other gentlemen when I started to feel really uncomfortable. I told him I would only walk a little ways but not out of direct vision of my friend. I didn’t want us to be separated.
I then had a moment of panic! What had we done? We were up in the mountains with two men we really didn’t know. We had been drinking wine. We had no way of calling for help, no one would hear us, our phones weren’t with us, not that they would have worked anyway! What would we do if they were trying to hurt us? How would we get away? And which way would we run if we did get away? I had nothing to use as a weapon…or did I? That’s when survival mode kicked in! I looked at the glass in my hand. It was real glass, not plastic. I looked at Turkish Aladdin. I would break the glass on the rock where we sat and use the broken glass to cut his throat going for the carotid artery! (I know, it’s violent, but I’m thinking survival here! Go with me.) By this time Miami L and her gentleman friend would realize something was going on. I hoped Miami L would jump into survival mode as well and I would be quick to help her. As far as getting away, the horses were there. Horses always know the way home, especially these since they were used to taking tourists up and down these mountains daily. There was the survival escape plan!
I had probably thought through this scenario in all of five seconds. Turkish Aladdin must have picked up on my uneasiness as he suggested we all go back to the stables. I was good with that idea! No, they did not attack us. They made us Turkish coffee.
Our time in Cappadocia had come to an end. The next stops were much further south, Gaziantep (aka Antep) and Sanliurfa (aka Urfa). Turkish Aladdin suggested I stay and not go along with my friend for the rest of the trip. We had spent way too much time and money arranging our 24hr/day guide/driver/escort to south Turkey for the rest of our trip to bail out for a guy!
After turning down his invitation he told me he would come to Istanbul to see me and take us out for our last night in Turkey. Pffffft. Okay, whatever.
Upon arriving back in Istanbul, I had a voicemail from Turkish Aladdin stating he would arrive that evening and would take both of us to dinner. I was completely surprised! I never expected to hear from him again. He did as he said and invited some friends to join us that evening.
After his friend/attorney unsuccessfully tried to change my airline ticket to keep me there one extra day, it was agreed that I would come back just before Christmas (two months later) to spend more time with Turkish Aladdin.
I have to admit it was all very exciting. However, I honestly thought after I returned to the states, the novelty of the blonde American would wear off and I would be forgotten.
So what happened? Did I go back?
I did, as it was so fairytale like. However, the second visit ended up explaining why we met in the first place. If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you know I believe that everything happens for a reason and that people come into our lives for a reason.
This man was suffering from a malfunction of his heart which I accidentally diagnosed the day after arriving. Instead of spending the week being treated to spectacular sights, beautiful moments, amazing dinners, we spent the week going to hospitals, getting medical procedures, and consulting doctors. In the end we said our goodbyes, forever.
I left completely satisfied that we met so that I might have possibly saved his life.