Back when I lived in Jackson, Wyoming, I recall telling a middle-aged man from Texas about my upcoming travel plans
and how they would probably include a trip through Turkey.
|Our first glimpse of Istanbul from the ferry|
He responded with look of shock and disapproval, then proceeded to advise me that I should stay away from the "Middle East," that the people of Turkey weren't like "us Americans," and that they don't respect women any more than the ground beneath their feet.
|I totally paid the bird off to fly in for this picture|
True to my nature, I gently laughed in his face, told him that I didn't think it would be quite like that, and changed the subject.
My, how wrong he was.
The people are generous and immeasurably hospitable (why do so many people keep trying to help me!?), the landscape boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery and impressive historical relics in the world, and the food
...have I told you about the food??
Sure, there is a lot more to it than just sweet stuff...but four pictures of pastries is just what happens when you have an addiction
Perhaps many Americans hold the view of my misinformed Texan. Is this why we seldom think of exploring this amazing country instead of Greece, Thailand, or some other exotic locale?
My mission over the next few days, then, is to try to show you the real Turkey.
Clockwise from top-right: A man playing the Turkish oud at the ferry station; window shopping for huge blocks of halva and nut balls; a man stands proudly by his olive display; arriving to the old city by ferry
Currently in Istanbul (and yes, I am going through cat withdrawal
after leaving the farm
), I am caught up in a mixture of cosmopolitan Europe, ancient Ottoman and Roman architecture, and mysterious Muslim tradition. It's as though I am breathing in the secret to rich and delicious cultural immersion, and I feel nourished.
|Approaching the Blue Mosque at night|
Istanbul is a humongous city. There is so much to explore and so much food to eat that John and I have broken our stay up into two parts: two nights "splurging" on a private hotel room ($27 per night with a shared bathroom) in the old city, and two nights on the other side of the river, couchsurfing
in the uber metropolitan and trendy Boyoglu region.
The hotel, I'll mention, is the first accommodation we've paid for in nearly seven months
Our arrival to the city greeted us with beautiful weather, so we spent the day settling in to the flow of city life. We mostly checked out various food shops, drank Turkish coffee, and explored the bustling streets...
|Cat lickfest in front of a shop|
|Breakfast pastry stuffed with olives||
|One of Istanbul's many Mosques|
The highlight was visiting the Blue Mosque
, or Sultan Ahmed Mosque, which dates back to 1609 and is called so for the blue coloring on the interior tiles.
|Lucky for us it stays open past sunset|
|People still use the mosque for prayer|
We ended the night with a quiet dinner at Buhara Ockbasi...
|Starting off dinner with something like puffed pita bread, some crumbled sheep cheese, and butter||
|Our mixed kebab plate with chicken wings, kofte, thin "pizza", chicken, and beef ribs, $15|
The next day was cold and rainy, so we watched the Cloud Atlas
matinee for only six bucks each, caught up on computer work at the hotel, and went out for dinner and and relaxing evening of smoking hookah and playing backgammon.
|Dinner at Siirt Seref Buryan Kebap Salon, starting off with perde pilavi, pastry dough stuffed with rice, chicken, currants, and almonds and baked until golden, and two bowlfuls of the delicious Ayran yogurt drink||
|Siirt Seref is renowned for its Turkish style "pit BBQ" where a side of lamb that is cooked over coals in a hole in the ground. The result is absurdly tender meat and a crispy crunchy layer of fat, if you're lucky|
|The melt-in-your-mouth chunks of lamb served over pita|
|Another kebap plate (what else?) with ground lamb |
(And I finally decided to give up on hookah and its consistent ability to make me nauseous).
|It's aways fun to take pictures of the nauseous girl||
|You can't act cool if you're not winning, John...|
Tomorrow I'll cover our trip to the region of Istanbul across the Bosphorus river and, of course, more amazing eats.
|The guys catching tonight's dinner|
I am ready to pack my bags! I feel like I'm already there! I will be stopping by Serenade today and will tell Nur to be sure to click on chowgypsy. And eat a piece of her divine chocolate for you....ReplyDelete
Great post! Unfortunately, many people have misconceptions about Turkey. That's partly why I started my blog when we moved here 2+ years ago - to share what my daily life is like here in Istanbul. There's so much to see and eat! Check out Istanbul Eats for cheap restaurant recs and stop by Ciya on the Asian side in Kadikoy if you have time. Afiyet olsun!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much! It's nice to see you're leading the cause to let people know Turkey isn't some scary place near Syria. Love your blog, and thanks for the advice!Delete
the food looks the best yet...!ReplyDelete
What a wonderful post. I have learnt so much from this blog.I like your blog.Thanks for the post.ReplyDelete