race day, more istanbul, and ayvalik

Sorry I am so behind on posting! This is going to be a quickie...I will fill in the holes when I get home...I promise. (Update: holes filled)

Race day turned out to be fantastic! John put me on the bus to the start, and off I went. I had to wait for about 50 mins at the start, but there was plenty going on to keep me entertained. My race was great. It was kind of rainy - perfect running weather. I was amused by the number of people who obviously were used to warmer temps. I broke a sweat within 15 mins of the start...other people were running in down jackets and trying to avoid puddles! Wimps! My goal was to run slow(er than I usually run) at the beginning and see how things went from there. I was unsure of how it would go considering I had not run for almost two weeks. It turned out that everything went better than planned. My goal was to finish in 2 hours, which would have been 12-13 min/mile (8 min/km). Imagine my surprise when I got to the 5 km marker and i was almost 5 mins ahead of schedule! That caused me to pick up the pace a little. I ended up finishing in 1:44, a whole 16 mins faster than planned! The other thing, what I am most proud of, is that I did not walk ONE SINGLE STEP. Not one. I've never done that before. It was amazing. After the race we went to Hagia Sophia and the Cisterns.  Hagia Sophia is A-MAZING.  Seriously.  My neck got sore from looking up all the time.  The church that stands today is the third rebuilding (even so, it was built in 532), and has a colorful history.  From 360 until 1463 it was the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople (except between 1204 and 1261 when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral).  It was a mosque from 1453 until 1931, and it is now a museum.

The next day (Monday) we went to Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, and the Blue Mosque.

Monday night we planned to go to Ayvalik via overnight bus.  We bought our tickets that morning from a travel agent just down the road from our hotel.  Around 9:00pm we headed to the bus station (our bus left at 11:00pm), when we got there we went upstairs to the cafe and waited.  At about 10:40pm we went downstairs to get on our bus.  Only every time we showed our tickets to someone to find out where to wait, they sent us to another place to wait.  Finally someone looked at our tickets, asked some guys in a room with a computer something, and then led us inside to an office.  He handed our tickets to the lady in the office and she told us to "stand down."  Clearly no one spoke very good English, but no one even made an attempt to tell us what was wrong.  John was afraid that the man in the travel agents office had sold us tickets for a departure that didn't exist.  After lots of chattering back and forth between the man and the woman in the office, he finally said, "bus problem, no ticket problem, bus problem."  The man clearly had a sense of urgency about finding us a way to get to Ayvalik, but the woman did not.  He kept getting all worked up while she was on the phone.  After a few minutes, they found us two seats with another company.  Leaving at the same time.  At this point, they handed us 100 TL (the cost of our tickets) and told us to go.  But we didn't know where we were going.  When I asked where to go, the man just said, "follow me" and took off out the door.  

]At 10:54pm we were following a man in a nice suit and tie across the bus station parking lot in the pouring rain (running), with our giant backpacks on our backs.  I was terribly slow given that I had just run 9 miles the day before and was sore and tired.  The man made it to the counter first, explained the issue to the ticket guy, and we got our tickets and went on our way.  I still can't believe how nice that man was to run across the parking lot in is suit and nice shoes in the pouring rain. Yesterday we spent the day resting and playing cribbage after we took a walk through the town of Ayvalik (and had a stray dog adopt us until he found a man with a delicious looking loaf of bread). Today we went to Bergama (Pergamum) and saw the Asclepion (Temple of the Healing Arts) and the Acroplis there.  We had no problem getting the bus to Bergama, what we did have a problem with was actually getting into town.  We took a taxi, which was relatively expensive (like more expensive than the hour long bus ride we had just taken).  John later informed me that in places where they are forced to build the bus station out of town, the often provide free transportation into town.  Which would explain why everyone got off the bus and onto a minibus, but we didn't because we didn't know where it was going.  Oh well.  We did, however, get our free ride back to the bus station.

Tomorrow we head to Selçuk where we will see Ephesus.