Thursday, May 24, 2012


Last night I met up with an old friend from Turkish class, Kemal, aka Simon, and his friend Angele. They were visiting from Greece and had been traveling around Turkey seeing old ruins. Angele mentioned that one of the reasons she wanted to come back to Istanbul was to see the seagulls flying over the mosques in Sultanahmet. I was like, "What? I have no idea what you're talking about."

Tonight, Abby, her friend Şükrü, and I went touring around Istanbul in the middle of the night. Şükrü took us to Sultanahmet, and I was able to see what Angele was talking about. She said that the birds and the lights create crazy shadows on the mosque. While I was skeptical last night, it seemed pretty cool tonight.  

It was a phenomenon that I didn't even know was a thing until last night. Thanks, Angele!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Party Bus

Tonight I had to get to Taksim to meet an old friend from Princeton/Turkish class. I was supposed to be there at 10:30 but I was running late. While I was waiting for the bus, a smaller van/bus thing pulled up and announced that it was going to Taksim. It seemed full-ish and a girl who had been waiting with me got on so I figured, what the hey?

This baby was like a party bus. For an extra .75 lira, I got to ride to Taksim in style. I'm not sure how legal/kosher this method of transportation is but it certainly did the trick. If I had taken the official bus, I would have still been waiting for it by the time the party bus dropped me off in Taksim. 

I'm going to chalk it up to a victory. A shady victory but a victory nonetheless. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Colonel

This is The Colonel. He keeps watch on our stoop at night.

Actually, he just sleeps on our stoop at night. He doesn't even move when we open the door, we have to step over him to pass by. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Life Lesson Learned

Today, I asserted myself. I stood up for myself and stopped being polite. It got real. 

There's this place I often stop at to get dinner (to go) on my way home, and the guys that work there are nice enough but I get creepy vibes from the boss. The first time I was there, I was standing by the register waiting for my food to finish, and he kept coming closer and closer to me. I kept backing up and backing up, and by the time my food was ready, I had to walk around him to get back to the register. Yeah. 

Turkish has a formal you ("siz") and an informal you ("sen"). About a week ago, Abby taught me this cool trick. If an older man that you don't know well uses "siz" while he's talking to you, he's being polite. If not, he's probably being creepy. Tonight, I took note: when I asked (using "siz"!) how he was, he used "sen" to ask in return. 

When my food was finished, he offered to drive me down the hill, saying that he was going that direction anyway.  I said 'no' but in a 'that's okay, thanks though!' kind of way. He didn't take my 'no' and went to get his car. Then I mentally deliberated. If he was being nice, I didn't want to be rude. I didn't want him to think that I thought he was creepy. Then I realized that I DO think he's creepy. I knew that I would feel uncomfortable and probably unsafe when I got into his car. Even though it would have been a 5-minute drive, I didn't want to go with him, and I didn't feel like being nice. 

When he came back with the car, I didn't move any closer, I used a much more forceful 'no', and I didn't apologize. I walked the rest of the way and watched as he drove halfway down the hill and turned around. He wasn't already heading that direction. 

I often complain that when I'm polite, people get the wrong idea about my intentions. I learned today that I have to do my part to not give the wrong idea, which is going to require that I not be polite sometimes. Them's the breaks. 

In addition to the life lesson that I learned on my way home, I also saw a family of snails, none of which I stepped on, thank the Lord. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


All these pictures are fuzzy, sorry. I've been strangely shaky all day so I'm going to blame that. Abby and I cooked a crazy awesome meal tonight. We cooked garlic cream chicken and pasta, and it only took us two hours and two trips to the grocery store! 

Our kitchen is a disaster. I really don't want to clean up so I'm waiting Abby out. First one to sleep has to start the kitchen cleaning.

Anyway, well-cooked chicken with pasta, cream sauce, and fresh tomatoes. Can't complain! Except about the messy kitchen. I'll continue to complain about that. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Crazy Weather

All weekend long, the weather report has said that it was going to rain. It was supposed to rain Saturday, Sunday, and Monday but Istanbul didn't see a drop. When I checked the weather last night before going to bed, it showed storm clouds with two red lightning bolts. Very foreboding. 

We had a sunny morning but in the afternoon, the wind picked up and the thunder and lightning began. At one point, the thunder was making car alarms go off. 

About 20 minutes into the storm, I could see the sun coming out in the southeast. 

A few minutes after that, the storm passed. In this last picture, you can see the last of the storm clouds on the left side and the blue sky on the right. We went from sunny to storm to sunny in less than an hour. That's some crazy weather. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

GS v. FB

Saturday night was a big night for Istanbul. It was a big night for football. And when I say "football", know that I mean soccer. This is my basic understanding of how this all works, so bear with me. There are 4 Turkish teams that compete for #1, and the #1 team also goes to play against Europe's best teams. So yeah, and there's a complicated point system, and the team with the most points wins the title. Something like that. 

Saturday was the final game. I guess that usually the winner is determined before the last game, and the competing teams usually aren't rivals. But Saturday's game was different, and it was for all the marbles. 

Istanbul is a huge city. It's so huge that it has 3 football teams. And two of them were competing for the championship. Imagine if the two teams playing in the Super Bowl were from the same city, and they were in that city playing. Things got crazy. 

Galatasaray (my team!) had to win or tie the game to win the championship. Fenerbahçe had to win the game, but they got home court advantage, and rumor is that Galatasaray hadn't won a game at the Fenerbahçe stadium in 12 years or something. The stakes were high, the teams were evenly matched, and everyone in Istanbul was watching. 

Galatasaray won (!!), and my side of Istanbul was full of fireworks and singing and general happiness that echoed across my little valley. 

Abby was in Fenerbahçe territory doing something completely unrelated to football when the Fenerbahçe fans began rioting. She walked down the street with shattered glass everywhere and fires burning in the middle of the road. She got tear-gased trying to get to the ferry to come back to our side. But even on the ferry, there were fans starting fires and a man covered in blood. Absolutely insane.

The moral of the story: Turks take their football very seriously. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Weekend

Where I spent my Friday:

Hey there, set of the new James Bond movie! How's it going?

Where I spent my Saturday:

I took the SAT in the nicest high school I've ever seen. 

Where I spent my Sunday:

Backyard grilling and watching the sunset over the Bosphorus. Life is good. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Last summer I went on a serious smoothie kick. Serious. And with the weather getting warm again, I knew that smoothie season was coming back. Abby and I have spent the last month or so scoping out prices for a blender to buy when we finally moved. Unfortunately, the immersion blender is more popular here than full-blown blenders so we were having trouble finding the perfect blender. Until we discovered this bad boy:

When Abby's mom was visiting last week, we were walking to get some of Istanbul's most famous baklava when we spotted a Turkish Swiffer. Abby's mom found that our cleaning habits left a little something to be desired (I'm sure my mother has absolutely no idea what she's talking about, she's has only ever praised my cleaning skills), so the Turkish Swiffer went into our metaphorical basket. 

THEN, on the top shelf, 6 feet above our heads, this blender was spotted. The box actually calls it a "smoothie maker". How lucky are we??? And check out that built-in spout on the side. Fancyy. Abby's mom bought that for us too.

So we spent last weekend smoothie-ing, and Abby spent a good amount of time whipping 'em up at our parties, which went very well by the way. No casualties to report. 

This blender is going to define Summer 2012. We should probably name it. 

And a huge thank you goes out to Tracy! Thank you so much!! You're the best!