Baklava Could Never Be Better - Istanbul, Turkey
Let's just take a short moment to see how people dress in Turkey(right) to India(left.)
Quick Recap : Delhi, India to Bishkek, Kazakhstan then went over to Istanbul, Turkey.
So hey guys, from the quick recap we flew from Bishkek early in the morning, over the black sea (which took us a long time to cross) and soon, Istanbul was in sight and we got our customs done. Just like that Well, hello Turkey!
This city is built around all the different rivers and elvations. It's really beautiful.
Believe it or not (wow, that's such a classic phrase right?) well believe it or not but we spent three weeks in Istanbul. Yes. That's how much we enjoyed it. Enough for us to stay there for 3 weeks. Bored? No not really. We had a TON to do.
First of all, we could watch out mom clutch her stomach and run to the bathroom. Second of all, we could attempt to drink as much Turkish Tea as the locals. Which is an average of 9 cups per day. So probably not safe to dive straight into that. And third of all, eat baklava. Which could eventually result in something developing in my appearance. Even though, eating baklava would probably my #1 priority.
Just kidding, this list is a very limited one if i were to describe Istanbul. But baklava is still super important to me. Just thinking of Turkish baklava makes me hungry even if i am stuffed with French pastries.
Wait. Let's back up to that one time mom was clutching her stomach. Oh right! Delhi Belly! The awful stomach/diarrhea experience that most people from foreign countries get from eating Indian street food. Dad, Lucy, Myka (sort of) and I got it. While arriving in Istanbul, Clara Der got it. So basically for the whole 2 hours of the taxi -thanks to Cengis- she was looking a little ill. I'm not sure how we would survive with mom catching on a terrible stomach ache aboard a city bus.
She was relived that night by (of course and naturally,) by throwing up. The morning afterwards, she rested in bed for a few days. Which meant we could stay inside with the WiFi. Which was much better than the Indian wifi where we stayed.
But after she got better, we all had to leave our cozy hotel room of Carme 2 to explore the city. Once we stepped outside, i didn't regret it. The streets were so...Istanbul-ly The charm was there but more in the atmosphere rather than in the buildings. The weather was PERFECT and the city was in constant movement. I loved it.
Most days before mom recovered, we would roam the streets wearing our down jackets and tuques. Perfect strolling atmosphere and weather. Much more interesting compared to Wascana Lake.
There was a place nearby called Taxsim Square. In the morning there are always flocks of pigeons roaming the ground with people. Mostly refugees - well it looked like, can't judge, some said they were - who were selling bird seeds. There's also a monument in the center to commemorate the creation of Turkey. (Before, it was sort of just the Ottoman Empire but that stuff is for another blog.)
Mom went on couch surfing and sought out locals who were willing to bring our family around the city. 20 people instantly requested. There were a few people where mom was instantly like 'NO.' Comments such as "I like Asian girls" or "Are you a shy girl?" are probably not who you want as a guide. We narrowed it down to a guy who we happened to meet up with another 3 times.
Sinan enjoyed to hang with our family. Especially Eli, and he was fun to have around as we explored more of Istanbul.
Yes. There is baklava and turkish delight. But did you know that their food is also amazing for savoury decisions? Obviously, i can't soak up this whole blog in künefe and baklava syrup so here are my 3 tops of Turkish food.
Shish kebabs in Turkey are delicious. I'm not sure why it can't be like this in another parts of the world. Honestly. But Cengis, the owner of Carme2, ( Pronounced :Gen-gis like Genghis Khan. ) would always help us to order in food. It would come by around 10mins after. Thanks again Cengis.
Then there's something called menemen. It's scrambled egg, sprinkled in cheese (optional) with sauteed vegetables. A few times, i managed to convince the waiters and servers to add meat inside. I devoured it too quickly for a photo haha.
Lastly, the Turkish rice. Yeah i know right. Classic Chinese choice for a cute Chinese girl. But this stuff is seriously good. It's like sinking into a comfortable seat next to the warm fire in a cold evening with a good book with good music and water within your reach without loosing your spot. Well, maybe not that good but it comes pretty close.
I know that i already named 3 but, i need to mention these : pide, lahmacun, döner, iskender kebab, sütlaç (Lucy's favourite food) and i could go on. But there is (surprisingly and sadly) something more important than food in this Turkish topic.
Can you read what it says on the stickers above? H-A-Y-I-R. Hayir. In Turkish, it means 'No.' The one below says Evet which means 'Yes.' It's totally confusing but the guy running for 'Yes' (who's name sounds like Aragorn but i would like it to sound more like Eribern because i love Aragorn just saying.) Anyways, this Eribern guy is using the Prime Minister or President as a puppet to control turkey.
Most of the educated, aren't fooled by Eribern's attempts to grab people to vote for him. So they vote Hayir. Like most corrupt places, there is danger for the opposition party. And unfairness. The government controls what goes on the TV and the 'Evet' party has 10X more broadcasting time than the 'Hayir' side.
In the end 'Evet' won and the 'Hayir' side lost. All 3 of the developed and largest cities of Turkey, the majority voted 'Hayir.' But by what percentage did 'Evet' win? 51% to 49%. It was also government controlled. So was it truly 100% fair?
As i had said before, Istanbul is built around rivers. And The Black Sea and actually is in the center of 2 continents. Dividing the Eastern European side of Istanbul to the Asian side of Istanbul. It's not like all the European people live on the European side or the Asian looking people on the Asia side. It seems pretty much the same. I just searched on google and apparently it is also called the City on the Seven Hills because it's built around 7 hills. Mostly Byzantine and Ottoman possession. But, yet again, this Ottoman and Byzantine business is going to be explained in my later Istanbul blog.
So i'll veer off to the day we walked over to a more quieter part of town where we found a market. Thanks, to Senna (spelling?) She lived in this area in her childhood and knows when the markets were on which days. Everyone was so polite and friendly towards us, probably being one of the only foreign family of 6 to walk in this area off Istanbul.
This was my favourite market. Local but not stinky or really dirty. Cheap prices but not cheap quality.
We got to see some art from a very talented duo.
There are also a lot of pigeons in Istanbul. Just look. (Like a flower)
And we also lived right next to the Pope's house. He was absent and is probably in Rome, Italy right now. But hey i walked in front of this balcony!
Since we stayed in Istanbul for almost a month, these bare trees all of the sudden began to burst with leaves and flowers when we returned to take a flight to Athens, Greece.
One of my favourite Turkish places to eat. Only 4 blocks away and delicious food.
Buskers around Taxsim Square were amazingly talented.
Mom and Senna developed a friendship and she was incredibly nice and friendly to us. She has 3 daughters and once, had invited us to come along with her and her youngest to the park. Yasmin was a year younger than Eli and Lucy, really sweet, and a little bit shy (like most kids when meeting new people, especially 6 of them.)
Senna just for a surprise, made us some delicious yogourt and even a special menemen.. Simply just a really kind person that i was so thankful to meet.
Since we were in Istanbul for so long, we had to present our "monthly" projects again. I did one about tectonic plates and earth formations. Myka did one about kangaroos. (Did you know that the mother kangaroo is able to nurse two joeys which are at 2 different developmental stages at the same time? I didn't.) Eli did one about koala bears and Lucy did her's on bearded pigs from the Borneo region.
Lucy made delicious apple tea and created us some delicious sweets on Easter. Crazy right? Well she does this sort of stuff for fun.
This is the church we visited on Easter Sunday. If you can see the stain glass, it has the 12 disciples decorated with a lot of colour, but since it's so old, there are bits where the glass is gone. So that's how the light streams into the church in beautiful rays. *Inserts heavenly singing*
Istanbul also keeps incredible good care of their animals. People just go up to street cats and dogs with food in their hands to feed them. There are actual cat sanctuaries and people leave water by sides of the streets for them. Sometimes even their plates.
Street shelters for homeless dogs below.
We didn't take too many photos of the turkish cats or dogs of Istanbul but my aunt did. Wait sorry we didn't get to that part of our Turkish travels. But after 3 weeks in Istanbul, we visited the Cappadocia region, the ancient city of Ephesus and a city named Izmir before realizing that we could go back to Istanbul. It worked out! And guess what? Auntie Tia was in Istanbul at the time and we spent a quick 2 days in our favourite city.
Sadly, the day that we spent together was also that one day where Taxsim Square was prohibited to the public. And since it was annual, something bad happened every time. Bombs, shooting, etc. When we passed through, there was so much security and police officers. The pigeons were still out but the streets and highways were all blocked off.
I'm not sure that anything happened that day but i'm happy to see myself alive. We have more photos on the camera but i'll try to gain access to them later on. Sorry.
UPDATE! - I've got the photos!
These are the long lost photos from the day when the streets were closed off and we met with Auntie Tia. Enjoy!
Well that's all for this casual, super enjoyable Istanbul blog! I loved this city and it's historic roots...
But i haven't even written anything historic expect for the confusing Byzantine and Ottoman stuff. I guess i should get going with the next blog! Which also happens to be a fun history lesson! So stay tuned and hopefully one of you guys could visit this city with me! Ta ta and BYE!