Wrinkled shirts

4 06 2008

This happened on Sunday night in Istanbul.

All the hotels in the city were full, so Bernie and I had to move from the nice Conrad Hotel in Besiktas to the unlisted Villa Zurich Hotel, close to Taksim. I arrived there Sunday night, and my shirts were all badly wrinkled as if they had spent the weekend inside a bottle of Coke or, as they say in Brazil, in the guts of a cow (“na barriga da vaca”).

So, I called the reception and asked for an iron and an ironing board. The person there asked me why I needed an iron for. A bit surprised, I said, “well, my shirts are wrinkled and therefore I need an iron”. Then the person replied: “You want iron for your shirts?” Even more puzzled, I said: “Yes, would that be possible?” and heard “Okay, I’ll send that to you in a moment”.

After about 15 minutes, somebody knocks in my door. I open it, and this person from the hotel has a tray with a glass some white liquid and a straw. I stared at the white glass for about 10 seconds, thinking: this is getting really bizarre. Then I asked: “What’s this?”

The person said: “Didn’t you ask for yogurt?”

Then reality sank in, and I exploded with an uncontrollable laugh. In Turkey, Ayran is a popular salty drink made of yogurt and water. I’m not sure if it’s pronounced the same as “iron”, but with my thick accent I can’t actually blame the reception person for the confusion. The poor guy was probably thinking: this guest is weird, he uses yogurt to starch his clothes.

If you ever go to Turkey, make sure you bring your Picture Dictionary, as known as Universal Phrase Book with you. It can come handy if your Turkish – or your English accent – is as poor as mine. This is ayran:

And this is iron:

Electric Iron by Li-Sung

La Boquería: Barcelona’s Cool Market

21 01 2008

I did not have much time for sightseeing this time around in Barcelona. In my last day there, I followed the suggestion of a fellow IBMer and visited La Boquería, also known as Mercat St Josep. I couldn’t sleep past 5:30 am anyway, so I just had breakfast in the Calderón Hotel and left for the market.

This market is a great place to visit, especially in the early morning hours, while merchants are still getting ready for the day. Like many other markets in large centres, visiting La Boquería is a very sensorial experience. Unlike the ones I have been to before, the one in Barcelona has a large variety of fresh seafood, some of which I had never seen before. When I say fresh, I mean REALLY fresh: some of them were still moving.

Hopefully, next time I go to a tapas bar, I’ll know the difference between chipirones and calamares. And when I see barnacles on the beach from now on, I’ll check if they are the expensive – and weird – variety seen in the two pictures at the bottom of this post.


10 Things I love about London

14 01 2008

This list keeps changing but this is what I have right now, not in any particular order:

  • “Look right” and “Look left” signs. Big life savers.
  • Traveling around the city in the double decker buses.
  • The long escalators in the tube stations.
  • Walking by the Thames on the South Bank pedestrian path.
  • The footy atmosphere on Saturday afternoons.
  • Mild winter temperatures (at least compared to Toronto).
  • Indian food.
  • Wagamama everywhere.
  • “Brilliant”, “Lovely” and “Bloody” used in casual comments all the time.
  • The cosmopolitan feel of it. Nobody seems to be a foreigner here.

London and rain

13 01 2008

I’m in London this week for a work-related event. This is my third time in the city, totaling 22 days so far, and I’m pretty sure I had rain in every single one of them. Not that it rained all the time. I can’t complain much, as I had my fair portion of no-rain too, especially this weekend.

The first 2 days here I actually spent in a hotel close to the Heathrow airport, so it was all work, no fun. This was the view from my Hotel window:

Heathrow from Rennaissance Hotel

On Friday I moved to a hotel in Central London (great tip from a fellow IBMer, Steve Cogan, I owe him a beer now 🙂 ), and tried to do 3 things I was not able to in my previous two visits:

  1. Watch a Chelsea game
  2. Go to Stonehenge
  3. Take a ride at the London Eye

I managed to do #1 and #2, but the London Eye is closed for maintenance until January 21. Hopefully next time I’ll have a better luck.

I have a huge backlog of things I’d like to blog about, including the football game and the trip to Stonehenge. For now, I’m just posting some pictures here. For the complete set, visit my Flickr page or my photos at Facebook.

London Eye
The London Eye
London - Big Ben
 The Big Ben
London Eye and Parliament

The Big Ben and the London Eye
London - Underground (Waterloo)
Escalators at the Waterloo Underground Station
London - Trafalgar Square
 Trafalgar Square
London - Chelsea vs Tottenham
Chelsea’s Stadium

London - Chelsea vs Tottenham
Celebrations after Beletti scored Chelsea’s first goal
 Salisbury Cathedral