28 February, 2008

Ferry Ride to the Black Sea

Adventures in English

24 February, 2008

Night 1

Our first night, we were frozen to the bone and luckily Sandra has steady hands for the night-mode because all my pictures came out blurry... The is the Hagia Sophia Mosque, the most highly visited mosque in Istanbul - all of us Mr Urban Art History alums will remember it well !
The Blue Mosque by night...
Our hostel was awesome. There was something different every night. Our first night was free hookah (aka shisha, nargile) - and no I'm not doing drugs (a disclaimer for my family). When you smoke a hookah you are smoking flavored tobacco, but not a lot of tobacco - mostly flavor. We had cherry and since I don't smoke, it resulted more often than not in a fit of coughing. I guess that means all the French second hand smoke hasn't completely ruined my lungs :) Anyway, shisha was often smoked by the Sultans; you see water pipes in almost all the old paintings...and it is still widely enjoyed today.
And we had free popcorn...

Day 1

These pictures are a little out of order. We'll start with the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. They used to be the local markets hundreds of years ago, but now they're mostly for us tourists, to practice out bartering skills. I was of course ripped off, not heeding the advice of our hostel owners who said...girls just look today, don't buy. And it was then that I heard the words of David telling me, oh who cares it's all just part of experiencing the culture :)Sandra's favorite - the lamp store
Mmmm, Turkish treats and spices....
Dried rose buds, the man at this counter gave one to each of us and I still can't believe how strong they smelled...apparently you make tea with them.
This is where we get out of order.... this is the night we arrived and the next morning.
Our hostel !! We got there at 5 am, and our taxi barely made it up the hill with all that snow...
We slept right through breakfast so our hostel made us some extra special Turkish omlettes, more like eggs stewed with tomatoes, peppers and onions and some concoction of spices that we were told could only be emulated in Lyon if we brought a Turk back with us.
a tour of the roof, during the summer this is the spot to be, but as you can see right now, it serves only as a spot to throw snowballs.

The Blue Mosque...

19 February, 2008


We have arrıved ın Istanbul after much fuss. I won`t bore you wıth the detaıls of the delayed plane, the almost cancelled flıght due to unexpected snow ın Turkey, our landıng on a slıck runway, our hostel forgettıng to pıck us up at the aırport, our takıng a weırd taxı shuttle, gettıng to our hostel at 4am.....

The Turks have told us they can`t belıeve all thıs snow...ın fact, they haven`t actually seen snow ın over 4 years and not on thıs level for 10. Lucky we have gotten here to see ıt ? I guess ?! Although all the mosques are quıte beautıful covered ın snow, ıt`s startıng to warm up...whıch means lots of cold, wet feet. Sınce ıt`s been so long sınce the last snowfall, the Turks are obsessed wıth ıt. There are snowmen, qualıty snowmen, everywhere. The restaurant employees are outsıde buıldıng snowmen...everyone ıs enjoyıng the snow (except our feet). And they are havıng snowball fıghts everywhere, I had a few nıce ones thrown at me the other day !

If I could tell you one thıng about the Turks, ıt ıs that they are some of the kındest, most generous people I have ever met. They ask you who you are, where you`re from, what you do...all wıth a genuıne ınterest. At fırst we though, oh they just want to sell us somethıng. But no, they just want to speak some Englısh and drınk some turkısh apple tea wıth you. We have had more than one come up to us and tell us a lıttle about the monument we were lookıng at and then that was ıt...ok well they do try and get you to drınk some tea 'just for 5 mınutes', but we are learnıng to successfuly evade that part. If not, ıt wıll take you an hour to get anywhere because the '5 mınute' tea breaks start to add up!

The food...oh la la, I could stay here forever. The lentıl soup, the kebabs, the Turkısh Delıght (easıly my favorıte). I thınk I wıll brıng home as much Turkısh Delıght as wıll fıt ın my suıtcase. Our hostel (they have more than made up for forgettıng us) ıs obvıously run by some Turkısh people. They are super nıce and cook everynıght. Last nıght we had homemade lentıl soup and some lamb and vegetables.

Well, no pıctures yet...I`m tyıng up the hostel`s computer and they taught us how to play Backgammon (I always thought that was Englısh, but ıt`s a Turkısh game) so I have a few games waıtıng for me.