foodie friday: turkey // eats

turkeyeats

One of the greatest parts of travel is the food, and I can easily find myself snacking waaay too often while on vacation. I’d say that Turkey was no exception, except that we were almost too busy to indulge in the greatness. I said almost. I personally had plenty of my favorite food groups, cheese and bread. And every now and then, I managed to squeeze in a vegetable, some fruit, baklava and one night, we worked in the greatest Indian food that I have ever had and I forgot to take a picture of said meal. The spices were unreal.

spice market, istanbul

spice market, istanbul

figs, sirince

All of the elements, the spices and the fruits and veggies, were amazing to see. The prepared meals and meze were just as wonderful. And nothing could top the adorable Turkish man on Heybeliada who pulled us over to the glass counter filled with pyrex dishes as he held his list of the meze options in English. He would point to an item, say the word, and point to the English word on the page while saying it aloud. My personal favorite was him pointing to an item, looking confused and then going with aubergine, everything else was a spot on translation, so we with it, because the french (and foodie) side of Ann and my brain clearly got that it was an eggplant dish.

sirince

heybeliada, prince islands

Also, if you don’t love tea…prepare a great response ahead of time, because people are going to offer to give you a lot of tea.

istanbul

Next in the Turkey adventure, let’s get on a plane and see something great!

prince islands // heybeliada

IslandOpener

Care of a little bit of facebook stalking, I discovered the Prince Islands. Located off the coast of the Asian-side of Istanbul, they are a chain of nine islands that offer a quiet change of pace, made easy by the fact that the main form of transport is horse and buggy. So, with a little bit of research (read: food blogs and the main desk guy at the hotel) Ann and I set off to use public transport, find the ferry and cross the water to Heybeliada. It was amazing. We strolled up and down streets, avoided getting run over by buggies and found the Naval Cadet School and the Halki Theological School. And we stopped to take a few photos.

heybeliada, prince islands

heybeliada, prince islands  heybeliada, prince islands

heybeliada, prince islands  heybeliada, prince islands

heybeliada, prince islands  heybeliada, prince islands

istanbul from heybeliada, prince islands  heybeliada, prince islands

heybeliada, prince islands

Back to Istanbul we went in the afternoon and with it came Ann’s favorite ideas of the day, let’s go to the Galata Tower! As we learned care of the internets the tower is “one of the city’s most striking landmarks, it is a high, cone-capped cylinder that dominates the skyline and affords a panoramic vista of Old Istanbul and its environs.” So despite my extreme issue with thoughts of potentially dying from a fall, I let myself be dragged to a tower built in 1348 A.D. and then on to the 360 degree balcony I went.

towerphoto

It took me a few minutes to convince my stomach to not revolt and I made sure stay as close to the wall as possible, but the views, however, were amazing. As the sun went down, the city became dark and the lights went on I forgot about how high I was off the ground. Istanbul, you are beautiful.

view from galata tower, istanbul

view from galata tower, istanbul

view from galata tower, istanbul

view from galata tower, istanbul

view from galata tower, istanbul

view from galata tower, istanbul

Next time, Ann and Whitney see something really old…like 300 B.C. old.

istanbul // topkapi palace + a turkish man

TopkapiPalace

Sadly, the Turkish government doesn’t allow you to take pictures of all the fun things in the Topkapi Palace. We lost count of the number of times a guard yelled at a cruise ship tourist, “no photo, no photo.” So pretend like you see photos of glass boxes with emeralds the size of limes and swords that may or may not have been about five feet long. No seriously, it was almost as tall as me. Besides the amazing things insides, the grounds, the intricacy of the tiles/inlay/etc and the views were amazing. Also great were the reminders not to touch the artifacts on the side of the road.

istanbul

topkapi palace, istanbul  topkapi palace, istanbul

topkapi palace, istanbul

topkapi palace, istanbul

The Patterns. I can’t say enough about the patterns. I couldn’t stop myself from repeatedly saying “oh my gosh how did they do all of this…oh wait, forced labor.” But beautiful nonetheless. The tiles! Everything was tiled. The walls, doorways, ceilings, everything!

topkapi palace, istanbul

topkapi palace, istanbul

topkapi palace, istanbul  topkapi palace, istanbul

topkapi palace, istanbul  topkapi palace, istanbul

And what is a palace without a harem. Because does it really feel like home if you don’t have enough space for your wives, concubines, their children, and…oh, your mother. Awkward turtle. But at least it was pretty.

harem, topkapi palace, istanbul

harem, topkapi palace, istanbul

And then there were those views, amazing, but from the male-only side of the palace…can’t give those women a good view, they could rise up in revolt. Turkish Spring. Too Soon? Maybe.

topkapi palace, istanbul

from topkapi palace, istanbul

blue mosque, istanbul

from topkapi palace, istanbul

The best part of the palace included another crazy Turkish man who like all started his conversation with “are you from the states?” After a yes, he responded with the normal follow up of where, we said DC and he asked where. That wasn’t the typical response. So I just go with NE DC, and he announces his son is at GWU. Over the course of our short interaction we learn that he is a rug wholesaler, he and his wife live in Florida, and that he can give us advice on buying a Turkish rug. I laughed and just said, well I can’t actually afford a Turkish rug but they are great. He suggests that I put it on credit, but then came the best suggestion. “How old are you? No, you do not look that old. Do you have a boyfriend? He can buy you a rug? No boyfriend? It is sad that you have been single for so long. Can I set you up with someone? I know men in Washington. Not the kind of men you know. They are older, they have money, they buy you Turkish carpet.” Oh my lord all I could think was yes that really just happened.

Next time, Ann & Whitney get on a boat, run around an island and face Whitney’s horrible fear of dying from a tall place.

istanbul // a mosque + some tales

IstanbulBlueMosque

Our first glimpse of the Blue Mosque happened the first night we arrived in Istanbul. Ann and I made it to our hotel after overnight flights and a wild, nausea inducting shuttle ride, so the need to stretch our legs was great. It should be noted that we arrived in Istanbul sans a Turkey Guide book and, well, we won’t note that I only had about $75USD due to a bank fiasco…clearly planning wasn’t on my side for night one. Thus, we set out with the decision that we would only walk straight down the road with the tiny postcard sized map from the hotel in hand so not to get lost on our first outing. After about five minutes we emerged onto a square and poof there was the Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque right in front of us. It was an amazing and well-illuminated site.

istanbul blue mosque, Istanbul

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

 

PinkLady

Fast forward to our first full day and we had lots to see which included a trip to the Blue Mosque and meeting by far one of the funnier Turkish men (in comparison to the annoying ones that inspired lots of Minnesota niceness and even more California annoyance…I’ll let you guess who was who).

blue mosque, istanbul

blue mosque, istanbul

blue mosque, istanbul  blue mosque, istanbul

blue mosque, istanbul

blue mosque, istanbul

So in addition to finding the Blue Mosque, we also picked up a friend while searching for the visitor’s entrance. A mini tour of the Blue Mosque, photos and the line “let me have your camera and I will go where visitors can’t go and take special pictures” later (we clearly gave him Ann’s camera as I held his shoes as a guarantee), he led us to Jennifer’s Turkish Towel shop. Jennifer the Canadian. My English speaking soul sang with a joy that can’t even be imagined. Shopping! Textiles! English! I think Ann may have laughed at how gleeful I was. My bank account left a little lighter.

istanbul

istanbul istanbul

Oh, and there was mid day break for lunch and some tea. I’m telling you, tea…everywhere! Epic fail when you’re the girl that doesn’t really do hot beverages. Needless to say, every waiter loved Ann and was annoyed with me, or that could be my complete inability to put up with the offers to have someone “teach me turkish”…
I may not have see Taken, but I know how this whole “teach you the language” thing goes, it’s called you go on vacation get and kidnapped/offed. Maybe. Back on topic now.

istanbul

istanbul

Next up, Ann and Whitney go to a palace. And maybe do some more shopping. (It’s me on a vacation, do we expect anything less).

istanbul // aya sofia + a cool cistern

Picking my favorites from this trip was way harder then I than I thought it was going to be. But you know, for the good of the blog I persevered, you can thank me never, I mean later.  From 700 photos down to 200 and then down to what you will see over the next few days, starting with the aya sofia and basilica cistern. Enjoy!

IstanbulAyaSofia

aya sofia, istanbul aya sofia, istanbul

aya sofia, istanbul

aya sofia, istanbul

aya sofia, istanbul

aya sofia, istanbul aya sofia, istanbul

aya sofia, istanbul

aya sofia, istanbul basilica cistern, istanbul

basilica cistern, istanbul

basilica cistern, istanbul

I wonder what fun sites of Istanbul I will come up with tomorrow? Maybe a few sweeping views of the city.