Living In Istanbul

August 2012 – July 2013

Archive for the category “Travel”

Istanbul in the Wintertime

Since there are less tourists in the wintertime, it’s a great time to view the sites. I’ve had coffee near the Galata tower, explored Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) and the Basilica Cistern, sat and sketched the Rumeli Fortress, cooked delicious food at a Turkish cooking class, and still had time to karaoke with friends. The Basilica Cistern is at the top of my list of favorite tourist places– it’s a must-see if you come to Istanbul! As far as relaxing goes, I really enjoyed the few times I’ve been to the Bebek area where the Rumeli Fortress and Sakıp Sabancı Museum is located.

I’m going to keep trying to check experiences off my daydream list!

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And here are my students

In pictures they look so sweet! And they are sweet, but having 60 of them at once can be a handful- especially when you’re on a field trip and the possibility of loosing one is great. The first field trip was a visit to the mansion of first president of the Turkish republic, Ataturk, located in the Marmara sea. I was not allowed to take photos inside the house, but you can see how the view was the best part of the house. In the slideshow you can also see us doing some body painting to document the students’ hands and footprints. Our second field trip was to the aquarium! This was such a fun trip and the kids were psyched about the fish. The entire afternoon I loved listening to the kids try to communicate their excitement to me in English, “teacher-water!”, “teacher-fish!”, “teacher- swim!”

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Christmastime in Istanbul and Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Christmas was busy with friends, good food and new sites. Went to the lively holiday work party with other teacher friends and then escaped from Turkey for four days to visit Plovdiv, Bulgaria! Jonathan, Euan, Brooke, and I had an amazing time relaxing in the old town, drinking our fair share of mulled wine, shopping and enjoying Christmas tunes. The serenity of Plovdiv was certainly a refreshing break from Istanbul and I’d jump at the opportunity to go back.

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Exploring the west coast of Turkey: Ephesus and house of the Virgin Mary

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Ephesus was definitely on my list of places to visit in Turkey and I am very glad that I was able to be there when it wasn’t extremely crowded! As soon as Brooke and I walked past the entrance gate we could see the monumental amphitheater. It seemed to be about half the size of Michigan State’s football field, but really it is about one-third the size, holding 20,000-25,000 people. Originally built in the 3rd century B.C., it was expanded to the current size during the 1st century A.D. It would be amazing to watch a performance in this theater because you’d also have a fantastic view of the mountains.

The entrance to the Library of Celsus is a well known structure in the city and the architectural details were stunning. The statues in the niches are actually reproductions and the originals are in the Ephesus Museum in Vienna. The Austrian Archaeological Institute helped restore the structure which is why these works are now there. Brooke and I also saw the Temple of Hadrian, the Gate of Heracles, and columns and mosaic tiles around the city.

Ephesus Information on Wikipedia and Ephesus landmark details

After we walked through Ephesus, we caught a taxi up the mountain to the House of the Virgin Mary. This is the last house where Mary lived and it was discovered from the visions of a German nun, Anne Catherine Emmerich. The Roman Catholic Church has apparently never announced their acceptance of authenticity but, nevertheless, the Pope has been there in 2006 to hold a special service. The house continues to be a site of pilgrimage, particularly on the date of Mary’s death, August 15. In the slideshow you can see the picture of the house just before the large statue of Mary. There were many people praying inside the house and lighting candles after walking through the house. I wrote a prayer on a napkin and tied it to the wall of prayers just like many others had done. Before traveling to Ephesus I did not know I’d be visiting Mary’s house and I’m glad I was able to have the experience.


Exploring the west coast of Turkey: Bodrum and Etrim

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Topping the hill at Yokuşbaşı, you’ll see Bodrum;

Do not ever think you will return as you came,

The ones before you were the same;

They all left with their minds in Bodrum

-The Fisherman of Halicarnassus

It is true that I now have a high standard of seaside beauty. Bodrum has the most beautiful harbor that captures the sunset. My roommate Brooke and I went there to explore and meet her friend Zeynep (“Zee”) living outside the city. Fortunately, we have missed the busy season and Zee could show us around the town without difficulty. Brooke was talking about how badly she wanted a Turkish carpet and Zee invited us to her village to see if her neighbor had carpets that may interest her. We had no idea that she was taking us to THE carpet place for Milas carpets made in the region. We were welcomed into the home of her neighbor with lunch, wine made in the area, instructions on how to make the Turkish double knot in weaving, and of course, the careful examination of hundreds of carpets. Brooke and I both ended up purchasing rugs that appeal to our souls and cherishing a day of Turkish hospitality.

The Tomb of Maussolos, King of Caria, was on the list of must-see sights in Bodrum and you can see the miniature recreation of how the original architecture appeared. In the central part of Bodrum Brooke and I also visited the Museum of Underwater Archaeology in the Bodrum Castle. It’s one of the largest museums of its kind and displays a variety of jewels, coins, fishing tools, glass bottles, and other treasures! Some of the pictures from the top of the castle are breathtaking and I hope you enjoy them 🙂

Yoros Castle

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My roommate Dilek recommended that Brooke and I visit Anadolu Kavağı for it’s beauty, food, and exploration of Yoros Castle. I’ve visited a few great places around Istanbul and this might be my new favorite place to escape the busy city of Istanbul! We hoped off the ferry around 12:30 and headed for seafood at a restaurant with a patio next to the water. The different types of fish were on a display tray and I decided on the Bonito fish- caught in the Bosphorus. It was very tender with a few spices; I definitely want to start buying fish to cook at home.

After lunch, Brooke and I hiked up the hill, led by signs labeled “Kalesi”. Since tourism is a major industry of this town, we were walking up the stairs through cafes and restaurants most of the way. When we were close to the castle, we did see a guy blowing glass in a stand next to the path and I had to buy his beautiful evil eye earrings. The evil eye is prominent in Turkish culture and I decided I need these earrings to protect me because every day at least one Kindergartener sends negative vibes my way.

The view from the castle was absolutely amazing. And I just kept thinking about how many cultures had occupied the fortress since it was built during the Byzantine empire. SO MANY people have stared/thought/dreamt/inhaled fresh air, right where I stood- very cool.

Heybeliada Island in the Sea of Marmara

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I absolutely loved Heybeliada Island last weekend. It was so relaxing and the water was as refreshing as Lake Michigan on a summer day. Jonathan and I joined other K-12 English teachers at the ferry port and we all rented bikes to get around– there are only emergency vehicles on the island and squeezing 9 people into a romantic horse drawn carriage wasn’t an appealing option. We told the bike shop man that we wanted to go to the plaj (beach) and he pointed the way. After we inquired about directions with someone else, we were headed to what this guy called, “the secret beach”! We found this secluded beach after a few miles of biking up hill, carefully guiding our bikes down a pine needle- ridden trail, and several concrete/seashell steps. It was definitely a worthwhile adventure. There was no one there when we arrived around 11:30am and nothing sounded better than a dip in the sea.

There were two guys who ran the place and they provided beverages and a few food items for guests. I actually saw the guys catching and cleaning oysters from the sea– so naturally we had to try them from the menu. It was a memorable spot and I’d really like to return before the cold weather sets in.

My first time in Asia


On the ferry from Beşiktaş to Kadıköy!

Istanbul is the only city that covers two continents: Europe and Asia. The city was first connected by the Bosphorus Bridge in 1973.

There are a few ways for me to get from my neighborhood in Şişli to the Asian side of Istanbul. I’m still trying to figure out how to travel around the city because of its extremely large size and several transportation methods. When my roommate Brooke and I went to the popular Kadıköy pazar (market) this past Tuesday, we found it best to take a combination of the metro train and dolmus (minibus) to the Beşiktaş seaport, jump on a ferry to Kadıköy, and walk or taxi to the pazar. Yes, it may sound simple, but when I say we “found it best” I mean we had to get lost several times to figure out the easiest path! There was plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, clothing and household items. Brooke and I bought fresh vegetables for a dinner salad and we certainly didn’t forget olives!

I’m excited to visit other markets around town, especially the one in my neighborhood. Here is an article in the Guardian about the 10 best markets in Istanbul.

Kadıköy pazar:


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