Tuesday, July 5, 2011

THANK YOU ISTANBUL


I've had a lifelong craving for Turkey. Not the winged Thanksgiving bird, but the faraway place. I've been to Greece many times and have toyed with a stop in neighboring Turkey, but never could make it happen until now. Paul, the kids, and I found ourselves spending 9 days in Istanbul as an end to our epic eleven-month travel adventure. Despite having always wanted to go to Turkey and having heard  so many friends rave about the place, I was nervous about taking our travel-weary selves to a new city (with 17 millions people!) at this twilight moment in our trip.



Istanbul couldn't have been a better place to end to our travels. We stayed in Beyoglu, a charming part of the city, filled with cobblestone streets and old-school fruits cart right outside our apartment door. We would wake in the morning to the hauntingly beautiful sounds of the call to prayer mixed with the shouts of various street vendors enthusiastically hawking their wares. I don't speak Turkish, so imagine these guys were singing something like "Cherries for sale. Sweet ripe cherries for sale...." ( Or maybe peas?)


There is so much I loved about Istanbul: the stunning architecture and breathtaking skyline; the kind, kid-friendly people; and the food. Oh the food! There were so many wonderful places to eat in that city.  The kids couldn't get enough Turkish Delight, but I think the most remarkable thing for me about the Istanbul food culture is the fresh abundance and variety of treats we saw for sale on the streets. For someone ingredient obsessed like myself, Istanbul was endlessly inspiring....from pistachios to apricots to fresh fish - all good. Here's a little taste...



One day a man (a total stranger) bought orange juice for me and the kids - the sort of kindness that happens in this town.



Corn on the cob roasted for a snack - brilliantly simple...


And when I  saw popcorn popped over an open flame I was giddy.


I have to thank the generosity of Cent from Cafe Fernando, a fantastic blog, for his amazing suggestions of places to eat in Istanbul. His tips were spot on and having his insider perspective on the city was priceless. Thank you Cent!

We made it around the world. We are bleary-eyed, jet lagged, but damned happy to be home. Eleven months is a long time to be on the road. It feels so good to be back in our community with all of the people we love. And the food here at home... ahhh magic!  I cannot wait to start cooking up some good California summer recipes to share with you.

34 comments:

  1. Welcome home! I have been to Greece but have long wanted to visit Instanbul. Through your beautiful post, I feel as though I was transported there, if even just for a few minutes. :)

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  2. Lisa- thank you! You've got to get yourself to Istanbul. It really is magical - you'd love it:)I think it might just be my favorite city.
    -E

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  3. I spent many happy months in Turkey (and Greece) in my backpacking days. Your photos brought all the magic back.

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  4. isn't Turkey just gorgeous? photographic paradise
    :)

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  5. Thanks for sharing those beautiful pictures with us! Turkey is a photographer's and foodie's paradize.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  6. Welcome home! The photos in Istanbul are so enticing. I think it's going to be a next trip for me.
    Thank you...

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  7. Bronnie - such a special place, right? I bet backpacking was wonderful - everyone is so friendly and welcoming don't you think?

    M- thanks for the welcome home:)

    Rosa - it really was a photographers and eaters heaven. Delish!

    Shokoofeh and Jill - thanks so much:)

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  8. Welcome back! Time for a slideshow at the library?

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  9. UstabahippieJuly 06, 2011

    Welcome back home. I've so enjoyed your blog, and I'm looking forward now to some great local recipes. Yay for Northern CA food!

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  10. What an amazing adventure. The photos and recipes are going to be a treasury, reminding our whole family about the small moments. It is good to be home.

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  11. Allison and Ustabahippie - So good to be home! In all the places in the world, it really doesn't get much better than the Bay Area. We are all so lucky!

    P:)xxoo

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  12. Congratulations on making it home! And what amazing culture and imagery in Istanbul - from the cherries and the peas (whose respective vendors have similar shirts!) to the cleverly-shaped TURBO lettering on the shopfront door, you found some remarkable photographic opportunities.

    But it's the first photo I love most - between the cat, the leaves around the bowl, and the janky placement of the bowl on the crate on the just-balanced rock - this image comes to life for me.

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  13. Your photos are so wonderfully evocative. I feel like I'm in that marketplace with people rushing past me to make their purchases.

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  14. Can't believe you're all done! Must be good to be home. Turkey looks great - I've never been. The popcorn over the open flame is awesome!

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  15. Emma - your comment cracked me up. I also love that first photo. Seeing that dapper old guy with his setup: janky, sweet, and real all at the same time.

    Carolyn - it was so bustling in Istanbul in a way that felt really fresh and alive, yet steeped in great tradition and history.I'm a fan!

    Poires au Chocolat - Isn't the popcorn guy amazing! I wish he had a stand in my Berkeley neighborhood. I'd be a regular customer, for sure.

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  16. Oh my goodness I can't believe you guys are home! Your European finale looked just amazing. Would love to meet up for a dinner or some drinks in the Bay Area when we're back for a few days in December!

    xx Leonora

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  17. Leonora!
    Yep we're home. Feels strange but great as well.

    We'd love to have drinks when you guys are in the area. Your adventures sound amazing!! I am a bit behind on wheresoeverwego - need to catch up:)
    Say hi to Jesse for us.
    E

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  18. Really gorgeous pictures!

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  19. Thanks for the kind words Sheila:)

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  20. Welcome home, Erin! What an amazing year it's been for you. I can only imagine. And live vicariously through your gorgeous photos.

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  21. I was reading your post on Istanbul and hanging on EVERY word and devouring every photo. I want to go to this city! My husband, the more practical half, is worried it may not be safe right now for an American family (2 teens) of four. I looks at everyone's photos and say "What is unsafe about these scenes?". We are planning a late Sept./Oct. trip and I want to pick Istanbul (Ireland is leading the race right now). Thank you for inspiring me with these images and words. Welcome back to home! We spent a year in Asia and I remember the long trek back home to NY with young children.

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  22. Julia, thanks for the welcome home! The trip was incredible and I am also grateful to be back. Cannot wait to catch up on all you've been cooking and growing this year and to get back to some serious homesteading action myself:)

    Sarah, Thanks for the incredibly sweet note.

    I cannot recommend Istanbul more highly! It is incredibly safe - much more so than any American city I can think of. Plus it is so easy, modern, and friendly. Istanbul has the beauty of Paris, and the friendliness of a small town. If you or your husband want more detailed info on the place, like renting an apartment etc, please feel free to email me. I'd be happy to share everything I know.

    -E

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  23. Welcome back to California. I was in Mammoth and Yosemite for a week, returned home and felt like I hadn't been in my kitchen for months. I can't imagine what it would be like to be gone for nearly a year. I hope you enjoy getting reacquainted with all of your favorite things, places and people!

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  24. These photos are all so amazing!

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  25. this is one of those posts that just makes you yearn to travel. how gorgeously you've captured everything.

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  26. Dear Erin (and all the other commenters),

    As an Istanbulian, I am sooo impressed with all your words and a little bit teary-eyed. Actually living in a city sometimes makes you take it for granted and forget how beautiful and special it is. And you can be drown to the negatives quite easily. Reading the post and the comments, I am renewed with love for my city.
    Thank you all!

    And a note: Istanbul is no more dangerous to an American than a fellow citizen. It has the problems of a HUGE city (mostly pickpocketing) but if you are careful enough, it shouldn't be an issue.

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  27. Ece, now your comment made me teary-eyed.

    I LOVE your city and was awed by the beauty of its food, architecture, and people. And I have to say that your city seemed even more kid-friendly than any big American city I can imagine. Our kids were treasured there and that always warms a parent's heart.

    As you can see I am a huge fan - I cannot imagine anyone visiting Istanbul and not falling in love.

    We all hope to go back before too long.

    Warmest regards,
    Erin

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  28. I was in Istambul dwo years ago, and it's sometnig that should be seen in life. Their tradicional way of making food, like those popcorn or squiseed juices..mhmmm! I didn't saw on the picures but i hope you tries Turkish sweet, called ''baklava''. It's one of my favorite sweets of all the time. :)

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  29. Wonderful photos Erin! So glad to hear you had a great time.

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  30. I visited Istanbul several yaers ago and LOVED it. How fun you went and love your pics even more envious of your year of travel. What an experience.

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    1. Isn't Istanbul awesome. I fell in love with the city. It reminded me of Paris - another favorite spot.
      Our year away is feeling like a more distant memory and I am trying desperately to keep hold of it. It was the trip of a lifetime!

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So good to hear from you... I appreciate each and every note you leave for me!

Thanks,
E

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