Saturday, June 24, 2006


Ortaköy: (LtoR) Hakan, Donica, Alex, Nur (Hakan's mother), Özdan (Hakan's grandmother), Morgan, Hannah, and Kate.

After Topkapı Palace we met Hakan and his mum and grandma by the water for a dinner of potatoes baked in stands along the street. Hakan had spent the day getting stuff together to get his visa so he and Alex can go on their tour of Europe. As a result, we had to negotiate Istanbul sans guide (aka someone who understands/speaks Turkish) which we did fine with, until the cab rides to Ortaköy. Mom, Hannah, and Kate ended up in one cab for an hour (without traffic the ride takes maybe 15 minutes) with a long, broken debate about the tariff. Finally, they got out and walked a kilometer or so in residential Istanbul until they caught another cab, and an hour and a half or so later finally found the rest of the group.

After dinner we went to dessert at a place along the water and had profiteroles, banana splits, and "hard" ice cream which was ice cream... only hard so you had to cut it with a knife and chew it. Mmmm.

Topkapı Sarayı: Third and Fourth Courts

This is the breakfast room overlooking the Bosphorus in the Fourth Court of the palace. It's impossible to show just how huge the palace was, but it was on the level of la Alhambra and Versailles.

Another example of the tiles, columns and gold plating found all over the palace. I think Dad took about 150 photos today - and that was after editing.

The family again, in the Fourth Court, in front of more tiles!

Topkapı Sarayı: Haram

Topkapı Palace - The Harem: Kate, Hannah, Morgan, and Alex

Topkapı Palace was first constructed in the mid 1400's, by Mehmet the Conqueror. It has four separate courts and literally hundreds of rooms.

This photo was taken in the courtyard of the favorite concubines in the Harem (literally, harem means 'private' and this harem has over 300 rooms), overlooking what once was a small lake where "dwarves in small boats" were said to entertain the women.

The Imperial Hall in the Harem. Everything is covered in gold, jewels, tiles, or expensive and sumptious fabrics and Turkish carpets.

An example of a stained glass window in the "Golden Cage" - the room made for the crown princes to stay until they were 16.

Aya Sofya

The Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, also called the Aya Sofya. Originally built as a church in 537, it was converted into a mosque in 1453 (this is the fourth version of this building on the same site)
The family in front of the Haghia Sophia. Coincidentally, the Blue Mosque and the Haghia Sophia are about 500 meters apart and facing each other.

Sultan Ahmet Camii

The inside of the Sultan Ahmet Camii, or Blue Mosque. It is almost completely tiled and is full of stained glass windows (260 of them). It was completed in 1616, and is still in full use today as a mosque.

Inside the Blue Mosque: Morgan, Hannah, Kate, Donica, Hakan, and Alex. The girls wore headscarves in respect of the Muslim faith (though Morgan was decent enough they didn't ask her to put one on - there are so many tourists at this mosque they are less strict about the women-showing-hair policy, though still no shoes allowed)

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul. When it was first built, it was bigger than the mosque in Mecca, and it has six minarets.

Basilica Cistern

This is inside an ancient Byzantine Cistern built by Emperor Justinius in AD532. It has 336 columns and helt up to 80,000 cubic meters of water. Now it has just enough water to be home to lots of ghostly carp.


Hannah, Alex, and Hakan on a cute street as proof that we actually visited.

The boys picking sour cherries on a road in Cumalikicik, just outside of Bursa.

It was full of homes like Safrombolu, in the old style and centuries old. We wandered around and bought fresh bread, made into rolls with walnut and sesame, and raspberries. This town has a big raspberry festival - unfortunately a few days after we left.


Yesil Tombe in Bursa.

Yesil Tomb: Alex, Hakan, and Dad debating tiles.
We spent the morning walking around Saframbolu, then got back in the car and drove five hours (back past Bolu) to Bursa, on the Sea of Marmara. Hakan's mother, Nur, found us a hotel run by tourism students somewhere in the foothills, and it was quite the adventure to find our way there. That night we met some of Hakan's friends by the Grand Mosque (the oldest one in turkish history - circa 1300) and wandered through downtown Bursa.

The next day we went to the Green Tomb and the Green Mosque, and the legendary silk bazaar of Bursa.


We drove from Bolu to Saframbolu, a town a few hours from Bolu that has about 190 homes and buildings in the classic style over 700 years old. It's a really cute little town that is full of tiny streets and a tiny bazaar where the cobbled walkways are roofed over with ancient grapevines. It was the definition of quaint. The especially nice part about it was our Otel was a building that had just been refurbished (Saframbolu is a UNESCO declared cultural historic site) so it didn't smell like an ashstray.

Bolu Otel

Dad and Alex crashed in the hotel in Bolu watching the world cup after our excursion to Yedigoller, and dinner at a pasta factory, Filiz, outside of Bolu.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Piknik at Natlıgöller

önder and Deniz treated us to a genergous piknik at "Sensitive" Lake. We had what has become the standard Turkish meal for us (coincidentally, it's also always kahvaltı ) - tomatoes, cucumber, chiles, white cheese (like feta), sausage, LOTS of bread, cherries, peaches, and tiny green plums. They got enough for a small army!

The lake we had lunch at had so many frogs (kurbağa) it was a cacophany of ribbiting the whole time, that bordered on being creepy. We then went and looked at the other lakes, which were pretty dinky, but the atmosphere was really fun - like a festival with all the Turks out picnicing and dancing.

More National Park

We got a little cabin fever...

... and this is why. Alex and our Renault Clio (çok kuçuk! ... very tiny!)


After spending the night in Bolu, we met önder and his friend, Deniz, and drove up North to a National Park, Yedigöller (Seven Lakes). The roads were rocks and dirt for most of the 40 kilometer drive, so we went pretty slowly and it took us over two hours to drive there, especially since önder bought his Toyota Corolla four days ago. The scenery was beautiful, though and it was nice to get some fresh air away from the industry of the cities.

Yedigöller: Hakan, Alex, and Deniz at a stop to take pictures and snack on şamfıstığı (pistachios) and lokum (Turkish delight).

To Bolu

Bolu: (LtoR) Hakan, Hannah, Alex, Scott, and Önder
We left Istanbul Friday afternoon, after many hours of trying to figure out how to get a rental car. Hakan managed to get us one through a cousin of his who works for a rental company. We left the apartment in a taksi, and drove over the bridge over the Bosphorus and into Asia! (Mine and Alex's first time!) It took us a very long time asking many friendly Turks to find the rental shop, but we finally found it and our very cozy Renault Clio. It took almost three hours to drive to East to Bolu, even with the help of "Gloria," Hakan's GPS.

We met Önder, another of Hakan's cousins, by the side of the road outside of Bolu and he took us to a wonderful dinner of local specialties, including a very potent raisin-rum drink that we thought might be filtered through a deer's stomach - though we couldn't really figure that out. The meal ended with very strong Turkish coffee and Turkish delights. We are discovering very rapidly that Turks like their sugar!

Dinner: (LtoR) Alex, Scott, and Önder eating local patates (potatoes), makarna (raviolis) and varios dishes with et (meat).

Friday, June 16, 2006


The bridge over Hacir (the Golden Horn) that connects the old section to Taksim, the hip shpping and night hang out, is covered with men fishing for some kind of herring type fish. They're about 4 inches long and smelly, but they can catch about 8 at a time on one pole and catch enough to eat Hakan says.

Misir Bazaar

Different kinds of Sukur and candy in the bazaar. Mm! It's mostly fruit and nut flavored.


One of the main shopping streets in the old district. This one is all clothing and shoes, and we saw more headscarves here than any where else yet in the city. It was amusing to see women in headscarves or even full "Türban" (like burka) walking into lingerie shops.

The district is full of people shopping, and almost no cars are allowed except for a few delivery trucks, like the blue one on this street, though good luck getting through. You can buy anything you want in this area, between the Grand Bazaar and the smaller, 'younger' (built in the 1600's) Egyptian Bazaar.

Kapalıçarşı Bazaar

Dad, Alex, and Hakan in the Grand "Closed" Bazaar. If you want leather, ripped off brands, scarves, a new friend, or someone to help you spend your money, this is the place to come! Or if you just want a familiar sound of home with someone yelling at you in English "I know what you wants. A rug! The best in Turkey" because it's really hard to hide the fact that we're American. It's huge - it has thousands of shops - though granted they all sell the same thing.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


After spending the afternoon wandering around the University, we caught a cab to the bottom of Boğaziçi Bridge where we met Nur for a dinner of "Kumpir" - baked potatoes with everything from pickles and ketchup to red cabbage, cous cous, and yoghurt - which in carts all down one block. We ate them in front of this mosque which looks like it used to be a church and then went back to Levent and found a sweet shop and bought an entire box full of different types of baklava. MM!

More Stone

Outside the old Victorian style buildings from the original college.

Feral Cats

There are feral dogs and cats all over the city, but Hakan said the University president has an affinity for cats and she doesn't allow dogs on the campuses, so they are everywhere. Here Alex thought it was amusing so many of them were at the shuttle bus stop.

The Boğaz

Alex, Me and Dad from a walkway along the edge of South Campus. There are four campuses fairly near to each other in Etiler. The North Campus is newer, and the South Campus is older and dates back to 1863 when the school was first started as the American Robert's College. In 1983 it was given back to the Turkish government and now has over 10,000 students, 70% of which are undergraduates.


The Bosphorus connects the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea which flows to the Mediterranean and makes Istanbul the only major metropolitan center on two continents in the world. It's not as wide as the opening beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and it seems to be constantly full of huge tankers, yachts, and tiny fishing boats.

This is the view from right outside the gates of North Campus of Boğaziçi, looking across to Asia and the less populated area of Istanbul, which has a total population of over 10 million people [2000 census].

Boğaziçi University

It's about a 10 - 15 minute walk from Hakan's apartment in Levent to the first campus at the University in the neighborhood Etiler where I'll be studying, and where Hakan goes. This is in front of Superdorm - where Hakan lived last year and I'll be next year. The campus is in the middle of the city and integrated into the urban environment around it so you can hardly tell you're at a school.


Dad and Alex in the dining area of the apartment around 3 am Turkish time. Nur asked us if we wanted a snack - which which ended up being a full meal. She made "böbek" - a potato and cheese dish with mint - "kebaps"-ground beef with spices wrapped in eggplant with tomato - and pilaf, as well as a cake with raisins, several kinds of local meats and cheeses and lots of hot tea with honey still in the honeycomb. We didn't get to bed until after 4 am - and didn't wake up until 4 pm the next day!

Istanbul or Constantinople?

We arrived at the Istanbul airport around 2 am Turkish time. We had some trouble getting visas, since it was so late they only took cash and we didn't have enough to cover the cost of a visa for each of us (I, stupidly, was only carrying Canadian). Fortunately for us, there was a kind man in line right behind us who lent us the money we needed and we'll mail him the rest, so we were able to walk into the country.

All of our bags made it, which was quite handy, and Hakan was there to meet us at the door! We were so happy to see him after so much time in travel mode. He got us a taxi ("taksi"), seatbelts optional, and we roared off into the Mediterranean night.

Hakan's apartment is in Levent on the European side of Istanbul, and his mother Nur came up from Izmir to be our host for a few days. We woke her up when we walked in at 3 am, but that didn't stop her from having a feast ready for us.

Airport Time

Since we did a lot of stitting around during our 32+ hours of travel, we took every opportunity to practice our airport yoga and stretch out. This picture Dad took with his new camera.

Heathrow Airport

Our flight from London to Istanbul was delayed so we ended up spending over 9 hours in the London airport. Much of it was spent horizontal on benches in a back terminal or seeing how far you could get during "Rhapsody in Blue."

San Francisco to London

Dad and I got to sit in the middle seats of a 747 all the way to London from San Francisco, over 10 hours in the air. It would have been better with about 6 extra inches, but we survived through three viewings of King Kong and two meals of airline food.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Introduction

In the beginning, there was a couple and they got together and had a girl and became parents, and later went on to reaffirm their parenthood with several other children. But back to the girl. She grew up and lived in the desert until one day she heard about a scholarship from Uncle Sam that would pay to send her to study in a foreign country.

She applied, and two years later, discovered that she was being sent to study Mechanical Engineering and Turkish at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey.

This is the blog of that girl and her travels and travails.