Hard to believe June is almost here! With one month left of school, the days are flying by. I spent last weekend in Istanbul with my tennis team. The boys and girls traveled together this year and the tournament was a really fun affair for all.
The last time I was in Turkey was nearly ten years ago when my brother was studying abroad. We traveled from Budapest to Istanbul and I was totally taken with the city – the muezzin call, the delicious street eats, spice markets, and my first Turkish bath. It was a totally radical experience at a time when I had only just begun traveling.
Due to the terrible events at Ataturk airport in June of 2016, our Turkish sister school hasn’t been able to host any events for the past two years. Coupled with that incident and the coup attempt just one month later, the Turks have been through a lot. As a testament to the strength of the people, their hospitality and warmth remains firmly intact.
I felt very safe throughout my time in Turkey, opting not to head downtown to the touristy area near the Blue Mosque but to stay in the suburb near the tennis facility. On our second night in country, we enjoyed a coaches’ dinner on Lake Büyükçekmece, just above the Marmara Sea. The views from our 5th floor perch were gorgeous as the late evening sunlight gave way to the periwinkle night. As tangerine lights flickered on across the bay, we enjoyed a gourmet feast of eggplant puree, yogurt, fresh cheeses, and a whole sea bass for each of us.
After dinner, I had the chance to walk down by the docks and enjoy the breezy evening. As darkness fell, the local people poured out their homes, coming to the park to break their Ramadan fast and enjoy the cool night after a hot, hungry day.
Back at the tournament, the girls faced singles and doubles players representing schools from Warsaw, Budapest, Zagreb (Croatia), and Istanbul. It would be curious to sometime poll the players for their actual countries of origin. On our 12 person roster alone we had players from Russia, Israel, Germany, India, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Another mini version of the UN, it’s awesome to see these kids mix and mingle, displaying sportsmanship despite (sometimes) not sharing a common language. Gives me hope.
The club facilities were amazing and featured the clay court stadium which hosts the annual Istanbul Cup. Pictures of Serena Williams and Roger Federer lined the entrance tunnel, much to our delight.
In the end, the girls placed 2nd for the second year in a row. The boys took third with some stiff competition from Istanbul and Warsaw. We brought back some hard-fought hardware and the kids represented Moscow well.
Always on to the next, I’m nearly done organizing the annual Grade 6 trip to Suzdal, Russia, which takes place in two weeks. Only just today I secured my World Cup Fan ID so I’m officially headed to Kaliningrad at the end of June to see Spain take on Morocco! Exciting times for Russia which is rolling out its red carpet to welcome visitors. Until next time!