Tag Archives: istanbul

The Highlights of Istanbul, Now With Clever Wordplay

So pretty it’s disgusting. At Gulhane Park. 

You can do fun things to the word Istanbul, like turn it into Istanbrew, Gristanbul, Istangourd, Grumpstanbul, etc. This is the part of the story where I modify the word Istanbul and describe different aspects of my trip.

Istanbloom: I think I finally realized it was spring when I saw all those dang flowers peeping everywhere. I attempted to deal with the tulip madness by taking pictures. In fact, I took many boring flower pictures, all of which my family will be forced to view.

Sweetstanbul: Oh sweet tooth, how we tickled and fed and indulged you in this fair city. We sunk our fangs into the chewy but oh so delicious Turkish delight with wild flavors such as kiwi and pomegranate, accented with the most pistachio-y pistachios I had ever tasted. Do I even need to describe the baklava, whose layers were drenched in sin and delicious in every incarnation? Even the angels would have wanted and been denied a bite of my baklava.

Nutstanbul: The Turks like their nuts. Daily I thanked Jesus and the lucky stars that I am nut allergy free and was able to stuff my gob with every nutty creation imaginable.  If they could, I think the Turks would pave the streets with hazelnuts and pistachios and build their homes with walnuts.

Istanhill: Because it was hilly. Duh.

Istanbus: I was very impressed with Istanbul’s public transportation, which included busses, ferries, metros, and funiculars, all of which could be paid for easily with the Istanbulkart. Because waxing poetic about public transportation can get boring if not weird, I will quickly move on to my next topic. Just know that the busses had screens in them telling the passengers both the current and the upcoming stops. Okay, moving on.

Bluestanbul: The Bosporus and the Golden Horn were so blue! Blue blue blue! While sailing to the Black sea on a Bosporus cruise, I couldn’t stop thinking how jewel-like the water seemed as the light refracted through the waves and pierced into the deep. We could see jellyfish. They are my friends.

Istanpuff: The Ottoman sultans loved their puffy clothing. Based on the sheer size of the clothing on display at Topkapi palace, it was clear that the sultans’ bodies, when cocooned in their palace garb, bore only a passing resemblance to a human figure. Everything from their ridiculously huge turbans to their pointed shoes was an exercise in puffiness.

The Fortress of Rumeli is more like a big park. Great for kids and conquering Istanbul.

Histanbul: The place was disgustingly full of history. I couldn’t spit without desecrating a famous landmark that was named something ridiculous and looked like it came from a fantasy novel. Around every corner there was a mosque, church, church-mosque, or doner stand that seemed beautiful and worth visiting.

Blisstanbul: Because Istanbul restored my faith in cities. It had been so long since I’d enjoyed spending time outside in a metropolis and felt comfortable in my foreign woman skin. When I think of Istanbul I think of colors and peace and happy and days spent watching the waters and the people flow by. And the trees were good too.

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Traveling: Useful for Watching the Humans

Oh you know, I was just floating down the Nile on a ship.

On April 16th, 2012, at approximately 12:03 pm, I returned at last from a journey that spanned a total of 1190 miles (1927 kilometers), and approximately 4 millennia, stretching from Istanbul in the north to Aswan, Egypt in the south, from the time of the mysterious Pharaohs to the more familiar civilizations of modern Turkey and Egypt.

Though I remain pale as an alabaster rose I do, however, sport the beginnings of a shapely frecklestash.

I saw the sultans’ puffy pants and the bare breasts of ancient Egyptians; the pith helmets of eager yet uninformed tourists, and the North Face jackets of unhappy American families. I sampled the modern cruise cuisine of Egypt, tasted the street fare of Istanbul, dined from the secret recipes of palace chefs, and ate starches whenever possible.

My sperries received a beating from all of the walking and then another lashing from me for being a mediocre shoe. My clothes are stinky and there is multinational grit in my purse.

So what did I do after all, in the grand scheme of time and space? What did it mean to travel to distant lands, even farther from my already distant home and sleep in beds that were not my own in places where I didn’t know who washed the sheets?

What does it mean to sit in a shady park full of blooming tulips and look out over the Bosporus, commenting on the rooftops of strangers in a country where I could not pronounce anything correctly?

For me, as an alien, these journeys give me a chance to deepen my understanding of human culture, helping me to better imitate it in my own life. Witnessing other humans acting in a way similar to humans in my region increases my functional knowledge of their kind. As I view the holy places of civilizations long past and watch others imagine the hope and desperation of those who surrounded the temple walls, I learn the act of historical empathy from the humans themselves, one of the most difficult emotions to mimic.

I am more than a little humbled by the grace of the mother queen, who granted me the privilege of leaving my base and seeing a timeline of human history that spans four thousand years. It is also fascinating to think that I am in some ways a continuation of that same history, because we plan to wipe out the entire human race and bring all of it to an end.

More on the trip and its starches to come soon.

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Oh My God It’s Breakfast in Istanbul

I almost left my camera next to the plate on the right.

This is Istanbul, the city of beautiful street cats, the city coveted by empires over the centuries, the city of the Dardanelles, of eggplant, of sultans, of pretty silk scarves, of hills and bridges. This is the city of every kind of public transportation: ferries, trams, metro, trollies, busses, and funiculars. This is the city of roasted street chestnuts and bad haircuts.

I arrived yesterday at 2 am after our flight was delayed from Cairo. At one point, a voice had came over the loudspeakers and said, “The new time for the delayed flight to Istanbul will be announced….later.” It was never announced.

Nevertheless, we made it to our fun-sized hostel with fun-sized rooms and bathrooms, where your bum touches the door as you pull up your pants. And today, we ate breakfast. Oh the glory.

I believe in love, laughter, and breakfast. Sweet Lord in heaven is there anything better than getting up early in the morning bright, when mouth-breathing tourists like ourselves haven’t begun mobbing around the city? Is there anything fairer than  winding down and around the hilly alleys of Istanbul lined with Smartie colored houses, and entering an establishment with yellow walls and cozy tables ? Is there anything better than being hungry for breakfast, the meal that will determine the rest of your life?

And what a treat this was, selected with the aid of the gentlemanly restaurant manager himself. I had never seen so many tiny dishes at a breakfast before. We ate cheeses, jam, butter, nutella, peanut butter, honey and cream, omelette, olives, hard boiled eggs, yoghurt and cucumber, and pure joy.

Anything was possible with this breakfast. Butter and jam, cheese and jam, nutella and jam, peanut butter and jam. Cheese. Egg and cheese. Egg and cheese and salt. Egg and cheese and salt and tomato. Egg, cheese, salt, tomato, and nutella.  And so on. I could fulfill any dream I had, go past any horizon I saw. With regard to bread toppings, the sky was the limit, and I was in outer space, blowing moon bubbles with aliens.

After a while you stop trying to taste every possibility and instead just be with the breakfast and attempt to become one with the essence of the little dishes and the toppings. I failed, yet I shall try again. Mark my words, I shall try again.

And now, we’ll get a coffee and discuss what we want to eat for lunch. This is the nature of vacation.

For those who are curious, we ate at a place called Van Kahvaltia Evi in an area called Cihangir. See a review here (it’s the first place. And the website istanbuleats.com is awesome).

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