The Markets | Istanbul

The Spice Market, the fish and vegetable markets in Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul, and the candy stores selling the famous "Turkish Delight,"  the markets of Istanbul have it all.


Chora Church | Istanbul

The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora was originally built outside of the walls of Contantinople (now Istanbul) in the 5th century.  It was originally a monastery.  The church has been rebuilt a few times, once because of an earthquake.  Gorgeous mosaics and frescos cover the walls and ceilings, each one telling a different story.  In 1511 the church was converted into a mosque and the mosaics and frescos were covered with a layer of plaster.  In 1945 it was converted into a museum and the mosaics were then uncovered.  And they were absolutely beautiful.  You can learn more about Chora Church here.


On the Streets in Instanbul

I had no idea how much I would love Istanbul.  I travel to see different cultures and ways of life.  And of course the food and a good photo op.  Istanbul has all of those things and so much more.  This city is one of the most fascinating places I have visited, religiously, politically, and historically.  And how many countries can you say exist on two different continents?  I will have to look that up.  The sound of the Call to Prayer coming out of the minarets throughout the city 5 times a day was beautiful.  And we were visiting Turkey during the time of Ramadan.  
We stayed in the old city, in Sultanahmet, which was great for visiting the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the Topaki Palace.  From our hotel, the Eresin Crown, we were able to walk to all of these places.  Our hotel also had a beautiful view of the Sea of Marmara that you could enjoy on the terrace for both breakfast or cocktails and dinner.  And at night, on the terrace, you could see the Blue Mosque lit brightly nearby.  I loved that so many restaurants were serving on rooftop terraces like Mostra Seafood and Nostra Cosa, where we had two great meals.
We visited a 300 year old Haman or Turkish bath, named Cogaloglu, which is an experience one will not forget.  After changing in your private changing room, you are then led into the hararet or hot room to sweat before your treatment.  The room is all marble and quite beautiful. In the center of the room is the marble slab where you will be scrubbed down with a kese and massaged.  No pictures posted of that!
I could go on and on about Istanbul but instead let the pictures tell the story which is the point of this blog.  


The Turkish Coffee | Istanbul

 The ground coffee beans have been boiled in a copper "cezve" over hot coals and then allowed to settle.  Maybe a little sugar,  always strong, and always good.  It is also true that many still read fortunes from the leftover coffee beans in the cup.  Once you have finished your cup, you then put the saucer on top and turn it over and let it cool down.  After that, the shapes left by the coffee grounds are then interpreted with both your past and future.


Scenes From A Restaurant | Muti, Cappadocia

One of the prettiest restaurants in Cappadocia is Muti.  And the food was quite delectable.  Fried eggplant with tomatoes, kisir, which is a bulghur salad with beets, tomatoes and herbs, dolma, and grilled salmon with a tabouleh salad were just some of the goods we tried.  And quite a great selection of Turkish wines which I have begun a love affair with.  You can read more about Muti here.


Chez Galip | Cappadocia, Turkey

After flying in hot air balloons,  walking through thousand year old caves, and practically crawling through underground cities, we did something more tame, visiting CEC Pottery.  This was truly a highlight.  Galip Korukcu has been creating gorgeous ceramics for over 50 years.  His potters wheel is spun by his fiercely fast feet.  We were able to watch him in action which was quite amazing.  He can create up to about 200 pieces depending on the complexity of the piece.  After he demonstrated a couple of pieces, Galip asked me to try my hand at the potters wheel.  With a bit of help..... well voila!!  No pictures will be posted of that.

In another area is the showroom of all of CEC Pottery's collection which was just beautiful.  You can see more of Chez Galip here.


Valley of Zelve | Cappadocia

Zelve is actually 3 different valleys, 2 of which are connected by a tunnel.  This was a settlement for many from the 9th to the 13th centuries.  The Muslims and Christians lived here together until the early 1900's when Greece and Turkey began exchanging their populations due to the Turkish War of Independence (the Greek Orthodox in Turkey and the Muslims in Greece.) The Christians then left and the Muslims in the early 1950's because of dangerous conditions due to erosion.  Hard to believe that people were still actually living here in 1950.  What was once an amazing cave town is now an open air museum.