Friday, August 7, 2015

Istanbul, kalbimi kalbimi (my heart)

Merhaba (hello) and welcome back to Turkey! I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks in Turkey in June 2012 and experience the beauty of the city, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, the Bosphorus, the friendships, the music, the food, and the travels to Troy, Assos, Bergama, Ephesus, Olu Deniz (don't go there), and all of Cappadocia. Oh, and do you remember that I finally was cured of that epic ear infection that I got in Thailand? Yeah...non of that this time around. Coming out of winter this year, my friend and Turkish sister Eda informed she was heading to Turkey for her annual trip to visit family, and after very little deliberation I decided to join. Twice lucky!! This time around my Turkey travels included Istanbul, the Mediterranean coastal town of Kaş (pronounced Kahsh) and it's surroundings, and a day trip to the Greek island of Kastellorizo (or Meis)! So much beauty, so much fun. Here are some photos form Istanbul that revisit many of the things I got to experience three years ago.  
BUT first off, my first night I had midye dolma. 
Midye dolma are mussels stuffed with rice, herbs, and pine nuts with lemon squeezed on top. I am salivating as I write this. How did I miss this delicious street food the first time around? Oh! I only started to like mussels a few months ago. The real question is why did I only eat them one time on this trip? I guess I have to go back to Turkey...

Mel + Me + a lot of midiye dolma
This is the way you eat street food at 1 in the morning. The people behind the camera
were convinced we would get sick. (We didn't. It was delicious.)
Blast to the past along the Bosphorus.
The grounds at Sakip Sabanci Museum.
Sakip Sabanci Museum
Beautiful Islamic Art at Sakip Sabanci Museum
Sakip Sabanci Museum
Art at the Sakup Sabanci Museum.

Bosphorus and the Asian side.
Turks and Russkis.
Recycle your bottles and cat/dog food will be released for all the strays.
I love free international exercise. 
Istanbul reflections.
Turkish family.

We ate at Ali's. Delicious.

Friends from New York who then moved to Florida were also in Istanbul. Ah, Turkish breakfast.

Murat is a very tall man. Cortney, me, Eda.

Welcome back to Hagia Sophia, the most special building I have ever seen (twice!).
Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) is a former church which was converted into a mosque and eventually turned into a museum. From it's original construction in 537 until 1453 it was a Greek Catholic cathedral, except between 1204 and 1261 when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathdral under the Latin Empire. It was converted into a mosque in 1453 when the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople. As history often shows, new rulers tend to destroy the old, but here the Ottoman rulers were impressed by the cathedral and instead of tearing it down, removed the bells, altar, and relics and removed or plastered over the mosaics depicting Jesus, Mary, and Christian saints and angels. Islamic features like the four minarets were added. In 1935 the mosque was secularized and opened as a museum by the first Turkish president. They uncovered the Christian mosaics and kept the Islamic features, making the Hagia Sophia a special place where people of all different cultures and religions can join together to marvel at it's all-inclusive beauty.
Fountain. Hagia Sophia
Door. Hagia Sophia
Viewpoint. Hagia Sophia
Epic. Hagia Sophia.

Happy to be back at Hagia Sophia
Mosaics dating back to the 12th century. Hagia Sophia.
Hallway. Hagia Sophia.
Blue Mosque.
I didn't visit it this time around, but I did get to see it's beauty from the exterior.
Spice Market.
Spice market.
Why is there a baby in the jewelry display? Babies love gold?!
Galatta Tower.
Someone got herself an exquisite hat.
Why be touristy and go up Galatta tower, when you can have a drink
on the roof of a friend who lives just across from the tower.

A couple of Turks.

I told you about Turkish friendships, right?
And then we went to the movies at Akmerkez and the theater was dope.
Reserved seats. 5-6 rows. Comfy seats. And there was an intermission half way through.

Comfiest seats ever. We saw 'Jurassic World' and
fell for Chris Pratt's silent, smart, strong portrayal of Owen, the raptor trainer.
Birthday celebration for Ozge, Can, and Dodo.
Soho House - Istanbul, 'cause we fancy like that.
Lycian Secret - Istanbul Edition.
Mel and Eda and some creepy street art.
Istanbul Street Art
I forgot that Turks don't sit inside bars, but instead stand/crowd outside of them.
 This is a street with people having a good time at 4-5 different bars.

Tough, angry pandas.
Tarkan Forever <3

Song of summer for me and Hasan, my Turkish baba:

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