The Bond House, aka The Fortress of (Internetless) Solitude

View from the Bond House
Originally uploaded by apes_abroad.

We awoke on the day of our flight back to Istanbul to find that my phone could no longer connect to the Vodaphone network. There is a cumbersome cellphone registration process here in Turkey, and out of country phones will only work for a few weeks or months before being banned from networks. They say it’s to prevent people from dodging taxes by buying phones online, but I suspect it’s a homeland security thing. At any rate, there went our only connection since the one at our pension was down. We hit up a wifi cafe and scribbled down the address of our next apartment in Istanbul, then traded up our wheels for wings and with a hop, skip and a jump we were back in the big city.

The doorman met us as our taxi pulled up in front of the new apartment on the water near Fatih bridge, but we weren’t sure it was the right place until we looked up and saw the huge deck around the top floor. The building itself is a little worn in and has a rickety old elevator, but our apartment… well the pictures weren’t lying, it definitely could pass as a Bond villain’s hideout. Everything in here is wide, white, and where possible, marble. The living room walls are entirely windows that slide open so that the walls just disappear. It’s surrounded by a deck so impossibly huge you could never use it all, an enormous expanse of white marble above the sight of most of the surrounding streets and houses. The view is spectacular, the only building between us and the water is a beautiful two hundred year old mansion covered with ivy. There are indeed two Jacuzzis; the one outside is probably the coolest bath tub I will ever use. It even has a clothes dryer imported from Germany, something I was starting to think was illegal in Turkey.

There was only one catch… no Internet.

Let me try again with proper emphasis: _NO_INTERNET_!! :(((

We were crestfallen; gone were our plans of meeting up with the Istanbul Game Jammers that night as we couldn’t look up the address, find the route, or contact them. We couldn’t find translations for the router settings. We couldn’t contact the apartment owner or the ISP to ask them to fix it. We couldn’t upload our backlog of pictures and blog posts. We couldn’t order in food. So we did what we could: we panicked.

Colin voted we skip dinner and go to bed, curl up in the fetal position and cry ourselves to sleep. I voted we go out and spare no expense to get back on the sweet teat of the mother web. After some argument, I won. First I begged our nextdoor neighbor for the password to his wifi, but the rich douchebag Brit rejected us. Next I asked at all of the cafes up the street, but they cater to rich douchebags and don’t share their wifi either. Finally we abandoned the confines of our white marble fortress and its stuck up neighborhood, and took a near-eternal bus ride through traffic to the hustle and bustle of Taksim on a Saturday night.

Good old Taksim. We got Colin’s phone online with a new Turkcell sim card and breathed a sigh of relief. We had dinner at one of those overpriced restaurants with four floors of perfect people-watching window seats, then set out to do some souvenir and gift shopping. I discovered a marvelous candy store called Kaska on Istiklal with a dazzling selection of Turkish sweets: baklava, helvasi, marzipan, pistachio Turkish delight and chocolate coated candied chestnuts. Mmmmm… I’m tempted to open just one, and if I don’t mention it here they won’t even know that I ate it instead of bringing it to Czech!

The next day we attended the first Istanbul Game Jam with our Turkish indie game developer friends. They are a cool bunch of guys and we had a lot of fun with them writing two-day (and in our case one-day) games. I’ll let Colin give you the details, but I think they turned out incredibly well and I was energized by getting so much done in just one day.

Monday we spent inside our fortress, and I’m pretty sure Colin didn’t get dressed the entire day – a sure indication of living the good life! I foraged for food up the hill then finally got to work on Rebuilder. When I wasn’t lounging in that jacuzzi on the deck, that is.

Tuesday we both worked on our games and enjoyed our white mansion. We were visited by the young couple (Ayca and Mark) who handle repairs who tried unsuccessfully to get the Internet working. We went for a walk and discovered a cool area around the university up the hill where we ate a pretty close approximation to burgers and delighted the chef by speaking French with him. In the afternoon Colin fell asleep on the couch listening to a Radiolab podcast and I watched the sunset from our beautiful huge windows. I watched someone hang enormous long Turkish flags from the bridge that swayed in the wind way, way overhead.

Yesterday Ayca and Mark visited again and after another long, frustrated phone call to the ISP they finally got the Internet going – woot! We took them out for lunch and checked out their art gallery / book and record store Marquise Dance Hall which they recently moved from Brooklyn to Beyo─člu. Then Colin and I continued downtown for one more tour of the Grand Bazaar. We kept most of our lira in our pockets but saw some very curious old (and/or made to look old) silver and tin objects and ate some tasty street pudding. After another near-eternal bus ride home, we ordered in food and watched the lights go on in the houses across the Bosphorus from our sudsy tub on the deck.

This morning I’m spending some quality time with the Internet and working on my game. So far it promises to be a quiet, contemplative day.


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