Kelli’s Shares Her Trip to Istanbul
From the moment we landed in Istanbul, I knew I had to make a cameo in this blog. I am so grateful for the new friendships and new adventures we have had since moving to Barcelona. And this trip was a stand-out. Istanbul was a city of beautiful sights, sounds, smells, shopping and incredible food. And I got to visit it with four smart, fun, and dynamic women.
We spent the first full day with an amazing tour guide visiting the Blue Mosque (from the outside, as it was under construction), Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar. We saw luxurious Turkish rugs being hand-woven, had the most amazing Workman’s lunch, walked through the cutest neighborhoods, ate baklava, and toured a mosque. All in one day. We couldn’t get enough. We came back to the hotel just in time to get ready for an amazing dinner.
One part of Istanbul lies in Europe and the other part in Asia. For our second day, we scheduled an Airbnb experience where we took a ferry to the Asian side and kayaked between the two continents with an awesome tour guide. The views were breathtaking and the weather was beautiful. I remember looking around and just feeling so lucky. In the late afternoon, we took a sunset sail on the Bosphorous, the waterway between Europe and Asia that Istanbul straddles. From the water we saw the bridges, palaces and mosques, all part of Istanbul’s history.
We definitely had a couple of sketchy moments during the trip, one of which happened right after our sunset sail. We were heading to dinner and got into a taxi that was requesting Euros instead of Turkish Lira. This wasn’t surprising as many places accept both in Istanbul. It was no problem for us, coming from Barcelona, until the taxi driver asked us for Euro with a serial number beginning with the letter A. We were confused, as no one had asked us about Euro serial numbers before. He asked to see various bills and examined the serial numbers. None of the bills we showed him were what he was apparently looking for. He went on to ask another of our friends to see her money, and at that point I knew we needed to get out of that taxi. We still don’t quite know what the scam was, but we were just happy to be out of there.
We hailed another taxi and had a really delicious meal at Ulus 29, with the most unreal views of Istanbul. Would highly recommend it.
We were flying out the next afternoon, but I couldn’t leave Istanbul without a traditional Turkish bath. I woke up and had my last extravagant Turkish breakfast at the hotel and then headed to the spa. It was unlike any other spa experience I had ever done and it was lovely!
All in all, Istanbul exceeded my expectations. I could have easily spent a week there exploring and shopping and eating, but I needed to get back to my little, crazy, delicious family.
Monday – Day 88 – A Routine Day
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and was not feeling up to going to Spanish class. So my amazing wife took the kids and I slept late. Spent the rest of the day laying low, preparing for some Lawline meetings with a quick pit stop at the gym. At night, I did my usual and brought Leila to her dance class and got back for a 2 hour finance meeting. Never as easy when they go through your dinner time.
Tuesday – Day 89 – Kel Off to Istanbul – Trying to be the cool dad and a big fail!
Kel headed off to Istanbul with 4 other women from here and I took on the role of CEO of the house for the next few days. Kel and I went over their schedule each morning and night that came from her head. It was a complicated list of logistics between after school activities, meals to prepare, clothes to wear, train passes to get and other necessary information to keep the Schnurman train chugging along without our leader.
I had my second Spanish conversation lesson at a café with one of my friends and our instructor. It is such a great feeling to go a full hour with only Spanish and understanding 85% of what was said. I was once again able to be sarcastic in Spanish which is a huge win for me!
From there I hit the gym and then headed to the kids school to pick them up. We always like to have food waiting for the kids because they never seem to eat enough during lunch and are starving at pick-up. When I do pick-ups, I tend to go over the top. 3 Croissants, 3 muffins, an amazing loaf of bread, and Made Good bars. Of course, I was not planning on having them eat it all, but I like to keep my options open. Luckily, we were able to save the muffins for breakfast which would help us with the speed to get to school in the morning.
I had two calls when I got home, first with Kim Ades of Frame of Mind Coaching. She is working on a very cool project that has the opportunity to change the way people journal. And then with Sigalle, Lawline’s COO, as we prepare for our annual planning meeting.
From there I went to make the kids dinner, thanks to food that Kel bought us before she left. Pasta (with sauce and butter), mozzarella sticks, and chicken tenders. For dessert we had the rest of the cookies I got from Bordeaux and ice cream.
Then, trying to be the cool dad, I looked at my watch and we were ahead of schedule. It was 6:50pm. I said if they can all be showered and ready for bed by 7:30pm, we could all sit on the couch, watch the first hour of a movie and have popcorn. I might have even said something like, “just remember who is the cooler parent.”
That plan started breaking down as fast as it started. While they were all excited, Leila still had lots of homework to finish and being responsible, she knew that since she had a sleepover the next night, she needed to finish it tonight. Josh and Jonah wanted to watch without her but I said no, so they decided to run around the apartment and use the furniture to jump, push, throw… To be honest I let it go because they just had dessert, and this is what I have to expect, unless I let them stare at screens which I did not want. Before we knew it, it was 8:30pm and Leila was still working away, maybe with a distraction or two, and of course a movie at this point was off the table.
I put the boys in bed at 9:30 (way too late but I tried!!!), and then was in Leila’s room when Jonah came in and screamed something funny. I heard Josh laughing and then Jonah was screaming “now it is your turn.” Josh would not leave the room, until they both came out with Jonah screaming and crying, Josh in pain, and screaming from being hit by Jonah. I separated them and Jonah feel asleep in my room and Josh alone in his.
I ended the night eating popcorn by myself, watching a movie on Netflix (somehow Notting Hill ended up on my screen), and drinking a glass of white wine. Coincidently, the travel book that Julia Roberts bought in the bookstore is about Istanbul. Exactly where Kelli was at the moment.
We spoke on the first night. She had a good dinner. Was a little sketched out about one or two things, but was safe and sound in bed. Of course, we have to take into account she was being extra vigilant in a foreign country.
Wednesday – Day 90 – Take 2 in Being the Cool Dad. Success!
First morning alone with the kids, taking them to school, and we arrived only 15 minutes late…..I will do better Thursday! After my Spanish class, I had tickets to the SmartCities Expo that I got from a friend. One of my goals is to attend different conferences in Barcelona that I am interested in throughout the year. And this fit the bill. It combined sustainability, automation, and city planning. It was HUGE. All the major companies were there. Some of the booths were two stories high.
It had everything from automated cars, to water treatment, to advanced recycling programs. Cities from all over the world also had booths to show off what they have done in this area. The energy in the room was electric and I just enjoyed walking around and absorbing the scene. Half way through, I found a lounge area and worked on my presentation for my meeting the next day with Lawline. Better than being in a Starbucks, I thought.
From there I picked up Jonah at soccer practice and luckily for him, we found a taxi to take home. The driver and I spoke the whole time in Spanish. Mostly, I was saying “right” “left” “straight” “near this street” to explain where to go, as he was not sure of the exact location. I was super proud because he understood me and I understood him.
When we got out, Jonah looks at me and said, “what were you talking about?” I responded the directions on how to get home. Then he paused and thinks about it for a moment and says, “if you were to die, how would I be able to get home?” I laughed and said maybe that would be the least of your concerns. But seriously, that showed me two things: 1) he was impressed with all my language skills (at least in my mind), 2) getting lost in London is still on his mind, as he was afraid he would never see home again.
I took Leila to her dance class and from there she slept over her friend’s house. As I was leaving, I told Josh, “if you both shower and finish your homework while I drop Leila off, we can try the movie again tonight.” Lo and behold they both showered! Josh finished his homework. I was impressed and they were rewarded.
I ordered pizza, they found a movie, ate the pizza on the floor (we don’t want stains on the couch do we), watched the movie, and they had nutella and ice cream for dessert. Then I heard the words I was looking for the night before. Josh goes to Jonah, “Isn’t this the best night ever? So much fun.” Regardless of which two, it is always easier to do things like this with two instead of three.
Thursday – Day 91 – The 8 Hour Annual Planning Meeting
Ok, today we left even later. No excuses but still, come on Schnurm! Josh saw his gym class leaving the school at 8:40am and was able to run and catch up. Since Jonah was late, I had to walk him to his classroom instead of drop him off in the cafeteria. It was a good thing too. As I opened the door to the classroom, it was family day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All parents were there with their kids listening to the teacher. It was fun for the time we had in there.
As, I left the school I saw a WhatsApp from Kelli, saying “Totally forgot it was family day at school…..please tell me you went.” Maybe we were late for a reason because if I was on time, Jonah would have went upstairs solo… See my favorite saying.. Good Thing, Bad Thing, Who Knows….
Today was the day of my full day annual planning meeting with the exec team and our coach back at Lawline. For me that meant 2:30 to 10:30pm…. And yes, it is as tough as it sounds, but it was also very productive. Since Kelli was in Istanbul, we arranged for a babysitter to pick the kids up from school and watch them all day while I locked myself in my room with the team.
Luckily, we had our chef in today. I spoke to her in Spanish most of the time and she was very impressed with my improvements since we first met. I truly feel doing the memory palace for the most common verbs has been a game changer. I cannot wait to do more of that.
As a result of our amazing chef, the kids had plenty of food for dinner and yes delicious desserts. After my meeting was done, the kids were in bed, and I myself passed out….
Friday – Day 92 – Kel’s Home!
Today is the day the kids will get to school on time! And we did! Okay, maybe a minute or two late but close enough for me. After a full 8 hour video conference call yesterday, I was happy to lay low throughout the day. In the morning I had a 2 hour convo with my friend who heads up the Green Committee at the school that I joined. I told her I would own the Meatless Mondays initiative at the school and gave her some tips so we can start taking action as a committee. The highlight of course was Kelli coming back around 6pm. We had some good family time at night together.
Saturday – Day 93 – Partying with 250 Other Parents until 2am
I signed up on Friday for my first 10K in Barcelona next weekend. Since the weather has been a bit cold, I have not run in a while and I wanted to make sure I could still do it rather easily. My plan was to do a loop and end up back by the apartment. One of the things I have learned in Barcelona is that some of the streets feel like they are going up, but really they are not. When I finished the 10K distance and I was not seeing anything I recognized, I looked at my google maps. Doh! I was 3 miles from my apartment.
Later in the day, I took the boys to the mall and Kel took Leila for some birthday gifts for a friend. I then split up from the crew to do some Zara shopping. It is very cheap and seems to be pretty good quality. I’ll look like a true European before you know it.
That night we had the parents night out for my kids’ school. It was about 250 parents at a really nice space on Mount Juic, overlooking the ocean. We got there at 8:30 and got home at 2am! The thing about it, it was exactly like the parents night out in Park Slope. Cheesy music, bar mitzvah style decorations, and parents just trying to have fun. Maybe some looking more corny than others (yours truly). Overall, it was a really fun night and we enjoyed hanging with all our friends.