Turkey – 2009

Michelle Spalding visiting the Grand Bazzar Istanbul Turkey


In August of 2009, Tomie and I set out to visit his sister and her family in Istanbul, Turkey. Another totally new experience for me.   I’ll share a little back story here before I chat about our adventure.  Many years ago Tomie’s sister Mary Lou wondered off to college, ended up in England and met the man of her dreams who was studying at the same college.  He happened to be from Istanbul and it wasn’t long before they returned to their homelands that they realized that living apart wasn’t an option.  Soon thereafter they married, and Mary Lou settled into  a new life in Istanbul.

While Tomie had traveled several times beforeMichelle Spalding and Tomie O'Neil on Buyukada, Island he was kind enough to visit many of the hot spots with me to help make my adventure a dream come true.  We visited the Eye of Sophia, Grand Bazaar, The Sultan’s Palace and the Blue Mosque.  Along the way we took the subway , the train and dined at several local establishments.

Now, as a redhead I must say that in Turkey you don’t exactly blend in, yet it’s something that I’ve had many years (39 at this point) to adjust to.  The people we interacted with were friendly, helpful and very hospitable. Ohhhhhhh and the food was absolutely amazing.

When visiting a foreign country, it’s just plain good manners to make sure you can at least say a few words to prove you weren’t raised by wolves.  To say “Thank You” in Turkish it’s “teh shek ür lerr”

Michelle Spalding visiting the Grand Bazzar Istanbul TurkeyWhile on this visit we loaded up the family car and did a road trip, visiting several islands and assorted remote parts of the Country.  Thankfully we had excellent guides and translators.  One of our stops was at the local version of Wal Mart called Kippa, there you can buy just about anything you’d like from a hair brush to baklava and almost everything in between.  One of my new favorite things to do when visiting a new place is to buy food which I’m not sure exactly what it is and try out something new.  For just a few dollars or Lira I sampled a wide variety of bread, olives and baklava all of which I must confess were really tasty.  Did I mention the food was absolutely amazing?

One of the biggest adjustments  to me on this trip was the time difference.  Istabul is 8 hours  ahead of New Orleans which means not only does one have to adjust to the time difference physically, it also makes work a little more interesting.  I’m answering emails late at night and my team is still in the middle of their day.  While I was on vacation, I still am the owner of a small business that needed my attention so ignoring my responsibilities for a week was out of the question. What

I found that worked for me was working  little in the morning before we set out on an adventure, generally before anyone else was up as well, then a little more in the late afternoon or evening.  This meant my team got the information they needed as did our clients.  The big lesson I learned is that when I focus, turn off all distractions and KICK BUTT, I can get a lot more done in a shorter period of  time than when I’m sitting in my office.

Sure I wasn’t doing everything on vacation and had projects that needed my attention when I returned.  I learned how to apply the 80/20 principal only doing the things that my company needed which I was the only one qualified to do it.  Many emails were left unread, many tasks were simply delayed or deleted and once again, business didn’t stop, the earth didn’t spin off it’s axis and best of all, I was having an adventure in a foreign land.

Should your travels take you to this part of the world Michelle visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul Turkeyand you visit a internet cafe to take care of a little business, watch out for the kooky keyboards especially if you’re like me and you type without looking.

Wherever you go or dream of going, the first step in doing it is to make a plan, get it on the calendar then get the ticket purchased, best of all enjoy the journey.