Turkey Blogs

  • The Rainbow Connection
    A few days after my first Turkish Christmas party, my friends began greeting me with New Year’s presents.  This was enough to surprise me; I had given gifts because it’s what one does at Christmastime, not because I wanted them to follow suit.  They’re good enough to put up with my halting Turkish and attend my strange American rituals, and after the horrors I had put them through at Halloween and Thanksgiving, it seemed the least I could do was give them something to show my appreciation.  But it seems to be a point of honor for Turks to reciprocate...

    Read Full Entry

  • Büyükdere: An Erstwhile Cosmopolitan Enclave on Bosporus
    Büyükdere, the most northerly borough of Istanbul, is one of the historic neighborhoods on the European side of the Bosporus. It is famous for its beautiful promenade, wooden houses, cafes and fish restaurants. As most of the settlements on the upper Bosporus, Büyükdere had long been a cosmopolitan enclave. After a French ambassador had obtained the Sultan’s permission for the settlement of foreigners in this area, the bay of Büyükdere and the nearby Belgrade Forest was discovered by the embassies and their entourage in the second half of the 18th century. The ethno-confessional make-up of the emerging settlements in the...

    Read Full Entry

  • Birds of a Feather Flock Together
    What is it about birds? Alfred Hitchcock showed us they can be creatures to be feared, blood thirsty avian packs of murderous intent. To followers of Judaism and Christianity the image of an olive branch bearing white dove is a symbol of hope and peace. To Ancient Egyptians it was a long legged herron that created initially the universe and then gods, goddesses and men to live in it. For me personally, birds represent something a lot less complicated or involved. They are a glorious reminder of the magic that abounds in the city I now call home.  Istanbul, Turkey....

    Read Full Entry

  • The Cemeteries of Istanbul: Escape from the Hustle and Bustle of the City
    Cities are visited for hundreds of reasons. It can be a museum, a palace, a tower, a fountain, a shopping street, a public park, a festival, or a restaurant that can encourage you to pay a visit to that city. There are some cities that are also visited for their cemeteries and catacombs. Despite the perceived morbidity, cemeteries and catacombs are poetic, calming, and tranquil places. Famous of them are often listed in guidebooks. Paris is well-known for its Père Lachaise, the resting place of many French intellectuals, and also of Jim Morrisson. Prague is famous for its Old Jewish...

    Read Full Entry

  • The Turkish-French connection
    Although French was not technically my first language, it was the language I spoke at school from the age of five. When you learn a language as a young child, you develop an innate rather than a mechanical sense of how things work and how words fit together. Although I can’t particularly explain French grammar in any meaningful way, I know what sounds right and what doesn’t. And when I look at French words written down, I don’t have to think about how they would be pronounced – it just comes automatically, even if the spellings may look illogical to...

    Read Full Entry

  • Foods of Ramadan
    The holy month of Ramadan has started and as one of the Five Pillars (duties) of Islam, Muslims are fasting (oruç) for the whole month, meaning; stop eating and drinking from dawn (sahur) to sunset (iftar). These two meals of sahur and iftar are not only ritualistic part of fasting, but they are also a chance get together for family pleasures. And now listening to an old track from the album “Istanbul 1925”, I’m thinking of the old Ramadans that I’ve heard from older people or read about… Unlike today, the foods were bought or prepared ahead in large quantities,...

    Read Full Entry

  • Turkish-Greek Friendship Concert of Izmir
    This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a very special concert in Izmir. “Egen’nin iki yakasindan esintiler: Turkiye-Yunanistan Dostluk Konseri”, which translates to “Aegean’s two breezes on the Seashore: Turkish-Greek Friendship Concert”.  Combining the traditional musical styles of both cultures, the night was capped off with musical pieces sung together in both Greek and Turkish. After having discovered about the concert from the Greek Consulate in downtown Izmir, I was excited to tell my fiancé about the event.  Coming from a Greek background, and her being Turkish, the concert reflected one of the many beautiful aspects of our...

    Read Full Entry

  • Her Secrets Revealed
    The chaotic combination of yellow taxis, tourist buses and bustling passengers was a far cry from the horse and cart I was expecting, complete with mosques, crumbling buildings and sand dunes. As I stepped out of Istanbul’s airport, anticipation of the unexpected was fluttering in the pit of my stomach like a trapped butterfly. Considering my knowledge of Turkey was based on horror news articles (only the very worse make it international) and old movies involving trains and daughters, the possibility of confronting a conservative culture lurked at the back of my mind. Istanbul’s drab suburban life quickly replaced the...

    Read Full Entry

  • Trailblazing through the mountains of Manisa
    Usually, people associate Turkey with minarets, the Silk Road, and other “exotic” visual images.  However, take a hiking trip to the state of Manisa, and you’ll soon feel like you’re in the hills of Colorado.  It never ceases to amaze me of all the beautiful and wondrous landscapes it has to offer. Historically the home of several Greek gods and Ottoman sultans, Manisa’s largest contribution to the world is in its name, which comes from the Greek word Magnesia, inspiring words such as magnet, magnetic, and most importantly the name Magneto from X-Men! Setting off into the depths of Manisa,...

    Read Full Entry

  • The difference in Turkish dairy
    Where I grew up, milk was a big deal. There was daily home milk delivery, huge containers of milk at the supermarket, and milk available in every restaurant. As a kid, I drank fresh milk with just about every meal. That was where I got my calcium and vitamin D. It just seemed natural that milk would be a part of my diet all my life. Until I moved to Turkey. Here, boxed long-life milk is the norm – the kind that lasts for a year and doesn’t need to be refrigerated until after it’s opened. And if you’re used...

    Read Full Entry