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ISTANBUL, WHERE THE FOX GOES BACK, 2017

The fox goes back to the fur shop after many travels. Every summer, for a few weeks, I go back to Istanbul, the city I was born. Each time, I return home well treated both by family and friends and the city itself. Among the many cities I visited, Istanbul is the most exciting and intriguing one for me. 


Istanbul and Galata, Matrakçı Nasuh, 1537

Even though its beauty is fading because of immigration and urbanization, with its deep history hidden under each brick and cobblestone it will continue to surprise us for many years to come. 

This year the surprise for us was to come across the historical Vefa Boza shop on a narrow street while we were looking for the Süleymaniye Mosque built by the architect Sinan. Boza is a Turkish drink made from fermented grains. It has a history going back to the 10th century Central Asia. On quiet winter evenings of the slim cobblestone street we lived on, we would wait for the Boza sellers' low voices calling "Vefa Booooooza".

Vefa Boza shop
Boza bottles
A little ways off the Boza shop, an elderly man was standing in front of an abandoned church on top of a steep road. The church-mosque of Vefa, also known as Molla Gürani Camii, a former Eastern Orthodox church converted into a mosque was dilapidated. He invited us inside as if it was his own and told us about how the church had been neglected for many years rather disheartened. 


Vefa Kilise Camii - Molla Gürani Camii, Church-Mosque of Vefa 

The elderly man then walked with us to the leymaniye Mosque and told us of a note that was found during the repair of the mosque from the architect himself. Without his note, he said, they would not be able to repair it. As I found out later, the handwritten note had this message: ‘As you have found this note, it means that one of the locking stones in the arch has slipped and you are unsure of how to replace it,’ before going on to describe the necessary process required to in doing so.

Reflection of the lattice windows in Süleymaniye Mosque
Süleymaniye Mosque

Courtyard in Süleymaniye Mosque

I like to stroll the streets of Kadiköy. Situated on one of the hills of Istanbul, Kadiköy's cobblestone roads host familiar and distant smells purveying from shops selling everything from fish, fruits, and pastrami to old books, henna and tamarind. This district on the Anatolian side of the Bosphorus strait is where I spent my high school years. 

Candy Seller in Kadiköy
Shop front in Kadiköy

Simitçi - Traditional Turkish pastry

Sherbets, in a candy shop in Kadiköy
In Sultanahmet we always end a tiring day with apple tea at the corner café across from the Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Sarnıcı after a visit to the ancient Grand Bazaar and Sahaflar - the old book sellers. 

Sahaflar - old book sellers, near Grand Bazaar

It was Friday noon time when we were at Sahaflar. The sacred praying time for Muslims. A old man approached us with a paper bag full of halka, a type of hollow bakery and offered us some, saying that it is a tradition on Fridays to share. It is nice to be reminded how sweet the locals can be. 


We also make sure that we visit the Galata tower area, with sharp streets, sleepy cats and roof coffee shops with where we watch the suspended city below. 

Macun şeker, Turkish toffee paste seller in Karaköy
We usually take a ferry from Kadiköy to Karaköy and then take the tram up to Beyoğlu area.

Tram from Karaköy to Beyoğlu
Pera Museum with its contemporary exhibits from all over the world and the permanent exhibit of Turkish coffee is another location my daughter and I visit each year. 

Permanent Coffee Exhibit at the Pera Museum

Afterwards we look at large books with old photographs of Istanbul at the Pera Palace and have tea served in silver pots, how elegant we look! Pera Palace or Hotel Jumeirah, "the oldest European hotel of Turkey" was built in 1892 for the purpose of hosting the passengers of the Orient Express.

Mom and daughter at Pera Palace

As my daughter says, "in Turkey tea is not a drink, it is an event". Tea is like a magic word that connects people. From the morning till the evening you keep hearing the chime of the tea cups with tiny bellies and invitations to tea. 

One of the magical journeys that the Bosphorus offers is an early ferry ride from Kadıköy to Sariyer, where you can have tea by the small cafe next to the pier. The owner has many stories to tell about his sea gulls, cats, dogs and mice. A 10 minute walk will take you to the Sadberk Hanım Museum, another amazing place to be surrounded with Turkish history.


Rumeli Hisarı, on an early morning ferry tour from Kadiköy to Sarıyer

After a few tiny cups of tea, we are enjoying the Turkish coffee in Sarıyer

Dried sardines in Sarıyer
The heart of the city is Eminönü, another favorite of ours, has the atmosphere of going back in time.


Bird feed seller in front of the Yeni Cami - New Mosque in Eminö
Corn Seller in front of the Yeni Cami - New Mosque in Eminönü
Shoe polisher in front of the Yeni Cami - New Mosque in Eminönü
Then comes the ferries of the Bosphorus that have been traversing the strait since early 19th century. We cross the Bosphorus strait as many times as possible and admire the ancient waterside mansions and palaces (This summer 19 times). At night the black waters of the Bosphorus sway looking like a mythical creature ready to swallow another 100 years all at once. 

Bosphorus at night




Comments

  1. This comment was posted by Elvan Kaya (founder of the Happy Ladybug Early Learning Center)to facebook on November 15, 2017:

    What I like the most about Istanbul is everywhere you go, you are surrounded by history. Churches, Synagogues and Mosques stand by each other in harmony. When I lived in Istanbul I loved watching people celebrate Easter from my apartment's balcony in Ortakoy, I loved getting my Challah bread from a local Jewish bakery, I loved that city never slept so I would go out at 11 pm to meet with friends for late supper or drinks by the Bosphorus, I loved discovering new neighborhoods with unique character on the weekends . Although I liked discovering the city alone I loved the opportunity to people watch when I sat in a cafe'. I loved going to St Anthony Church on Sundays to watch the service in Italian and smelling the burnt candle. I loved how this city offered hundreds of art exhibits every day and I miss black & white photography exhibits the most. I loved walking to Tunel in Beyoglu to listen to Jazz or discover a restaurant so small that can only accommodate 8 people at once. I loved taking the Ferry every day to and from work from Uskudar to Nisantasi. I loved riding the gondola from Macka to Taskisla. I loved driving alongside the Bosphorus with my 1973 orange beetle to inhale the salty water of the sea and admire the Mansions that decorated the Bosphorus for centuries. I loved going to the small Islands with a ferry. I loved talking to an old Armenian lady who lived in the next apartment and looked down from her balcony to talk to someone every morning with her broken Turkish. I loved walking on the busy streets of Beyoglu, Nisantasi, Kadikoy elbow to elbow without worrying about my "personal space" Last but not least I loved working in a building that was 130 years old and filled with people who were passionate about the education and mental well being of the youth. Do I need to go on?

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  2. Hello! Beautiful blog! I found your website through a question you posted on the blogger help forum. You were asking why there were only two blog posts showing up on your main page at the time. I have the same theme and layout as you, and I see that you were able to find a solution (which is so encouraging because I was really starting to think it was irreversible!) Would you mind sharing with me how you are able to display more than one or two blog posts on your main page at a time? I would really really appreciate it! :)

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    1. Dear Danica, I inserted a jump break at the end of the section you want to show on the main page for each blog. That is all. Thank you for your comments on my blog.

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