Monthly Archives: September 2011

Fethiye

After Selçuk, we headed further south to Fethiye, with its abundance of yachts and beaches. We spent most of our time there swimming in the warm waters and lazing in the shade of an umbrella. The sun and heat were intense, but we wanted to see more than just the beach, so on the third day we rented a jeep and drove around the peninsula, finding small beaches along the way.

Tombs carved into the rock face by the ancient Lycians.

Marcus windsurfing on a not-so-windy day.

Sunset at the surf beach.

On our day exploring with the jeep, we crossed the peninsula to see the town of Kayaköy, with its hillside ruins, a town destroyed by earthquake. Deemed a historical site, building is prohibited and the town is made of mostly farmers and a few family restaurants.

Sunday afternoon lunch in Kayaköy. We stopped at an outdoor restaurant, filled with platforms of carpets and pillows, and had my favorite meal of the trip. Marcus ate roasted lamb, while I enjoyed a vegetable stew ripe with flavor. The two figs were given to us, freshly picked from a tree by the restaurant owner.

I was impressed by the landscape around Fethiye: dry land, stone walls, and green trees and plants. We passed farms and orchards as we drove across the dusty roads.

The harbor in Kalkan, a small town southeast of Fethiye, where we stopped on our way to the next town. The jeep was so much fun that we decided to take it to our next destination: Kekova.

Advertisements

Selçuk and Ephesus

A flight to Izmir and a train south led us to Selçuk, a small town on the doorstep of the magnificent ruins of Ephesus. We realized quickly that Selçuk was perceptibly warmer than Istanbul, but that didn’t stop us from exploring the city: a mixture of teahouses, ruins, carpet shops, markets, and parks. We extended our stay to see more and enjoy the concerts and festivals for a public holiday that no one could explain.

Ephesus, the whole reason we were there, was fantastic, but one of my favorite moments of the whole trip happened on our last night in Selçuk. After buying fruit for the bus ride to Fethiye the next morning, Marcus and I were wandering around, looking at the night market and listening to a group of musicians play when a boy of about 12 came and asked for help with his homework. He had to pair famous authors with the books they wrote. He spoke only a little English, but we played a fun guessing game in which ‘bad, trouble, police’ led us to discern ‘Crime and Punishment’ and match it with Dostoevsky. I only wish I had been able to help him with the Turkish authors.

Pictured above, the Library of Celsus at Ephesus.

Ephesus was a sweaty affair. Armed with water bottles and a keen eye for spotting shadows, we headed out in the early morning to take in the ancient ruins.

Shoes outside a mosque in Selçuk.

Four chairs and a hookah wait for an afternoon break.

Looking out towards the İsa Bey Mosque.

Mosaic of an ancient basilica. The first afternoon we found ourselves atop a hillside among the ruins of St. John’s Basilica. The saint was believed to have lived in Selçuk late in his life.

A view of the ruins of St. John’s Basilica. Upon inspecting a sarcophagus against the wall, Marcus and I came upon a mother dog guarding her new puppies. It was probably a hilarious sight. Two tourists, solemnly discussing the carved stone when suddenly a dog jumps out to attack and sent them running and screaming around the crumbing walls. Ha.

Weekend Links #38

Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. The weekly post is my chance to share with you a few things from the week, in a list compiled during the weekend. I hope you enjoy them as well.

A few things I enjoyed over the last week:
1. Hearing about the little free library project and its aim to promote literacy and a love of reading (pictured above via, Merci, TOM)
2. Seeing David Sedaris at Carré in Amsterdam and receiving a copy of the never-before-published essay Innocents Abroad
3. Browsing photos of Stencil Art in Istanbul (pictured below)
4. Reading the NYTimes article about the importance of character in academic (and general) success
5. Attending the first Zuidermrkt, a new outdoor market in Amsterdam

Istanbul

The trip to Turkey began with a few days in Istanbul. We arrived in the city on a Saturday evening, greeted by traffic, heat, and crowds. The city was buzzing and we jumped into the flow as we made our way to a hotel in Taksim. The next day we rose early for a day of sightseeing. Walking through the city towards the Old City, Hagia Sophia, the many mosques, the Spice Market, and the Bosphorus. Sadly, the Grand Bazaar was closed, but we enjoyed slowly wandering and stopping for fresh pressed orange juice, pastries, and tea along the way. The following day we headed to the ferries for a day trip to the Princes Islands.

The Rüstem Paşa mosque.

The Spice Market.

Fisherman on a bridge across the Bosphorus.

A view towards the Asian side of Istanbul from a rooftop bar near Taksim.

The port on Büyükada, the largest of the four Princes Islands.

Antique stores and bicycle shops on Büyükada.

While the tourists queued in line for a horse and cart tour around the island, Marcus and I rented bicycles and headed in the other direction, stumbling upon a fantastic beach all for us.

Relaxing in the sun.

Seafood lunch in town.

The first of many fruit purchases.

On the ferry ride back to Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia

Visiting Hagia Sophia was one of the main reasons we included Istanbul in our trip to Turkey. I couldn’t miss the chance to see this historical treasure that I have been fascinated with since my first art history course. A cathedral turned mosque turned museum, Hagia Sofia (Ayasofa in Turkish) is a symbol of Byzantine architecture and the strength of the Ottoman Empire. And it is breathtaking.

A blend of the high ceilings of the Orthodox dome with Islamic artwork.

The Virgin and Child mosaic in the apse, now the museum exit, was one of the highlights.

The view from the balcony.

Details on the arched ceilings.

A mosaic tucked away in the corner of Hagia Sophia.

It’s incredible that this far-flung place I read about in my youth is now a place that I have seen with my own eyes.

summer reading

 

A slower pace at work and a long holiday in Turkey allowed for more reading than the first part of the year. Here, a recap of the books I read this summer:

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. A work of historical fiction about the Dutch East Indies Company’s outpost in Japan through the eyes of the young clerk Jacob de Zoet.

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss. Described as a ‘biography-in-collage’, this work looks at the lives of scientists Marie and Pierre Curie as they fall in love and discover new elements of the periodic table together.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. The crazy world in which the bombardier Yossarian tries to survive when the number of missions he has to make before he can complete his service keeps being raised and the ominous rule of Catch 22 hangs above.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The story of fireman Guy Montag who lives in a dystopic world in which books are burned and independent thoughts questioned.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. A portrait of an African-American girl raised in the South and her childhood moments of triumph and tragedy.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. A view on 1870s upper class New Yorkers in which recently engaged Newland Archer faces off with the demands of society as his relationship with the scandalized cousin of his fiancée deepens.

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. A collection of short stories portraying the reporters, editors, and related characters of an English-language newspaper based in Rome.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Catherine Morland visits Bath and then the mysterious abbey and learns how tricky it is to navigate through 18th-century society.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. A novel written through an exchange of letters between novelist Juliet Ashton and members of a unique society on Guernsey Island. They share their experiences during the German Occupation of World War II and friendships form through the post.

Also two audio books!

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. The story of an unforgettable protagonist, Oskar Blum, a young boy who lives in post-9/11 New York. He heads out into the city on a quest to understand his father’s death at the World Trade Center as the tale interweaves with his family’s past.

Bossypants by Tina Fey. The autobiography of comedian and producer Tina Fey, describing the forays of her youth and the experiences that led to her career success.

travels in Türkiye

Two weeks, 1071 kilometers (665 miles), and 11 cities. Our trip down the west coast of Turkey, starting in Istanbul and ending in Antalya, was simply wonderful. We explored the metropolis of Istanbul, roamed the island of Büyükada, visited the ancient ruins of Ephesus, swam in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, kayaked above the sunken city of Simena, and climbed a hill to walk among the sarcophagi of a necropolis.

We became experts at finding secluded beaches and never let the heat, which averaged around 35° C/95° F, deter us from exploring. I came to admire Marcus’ exceptional navigational skills and his ability to be invited to sit down and share a meal with a stranger. I consumed my fill of fruit for the next year and passed as being Turkish, thanks to my great pronunciation of merhaba (hello) and my universally accepted curly, black hair and dark skin.

While I am still sorting through all the photos and typing out my journal, here is a taste of what I saw and ate during my travels. Above, colorful flowers hang above an empty street in the 400-inhabitant village of Kekova.

Exploring the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus.

Driving along the coast and stopping to admire the turquoise waters of Fethiye.

We started each morning with a Turkish breakfast. Freshly-squeezed orange juice, Turkish coffee, cheese, olives, vegetables, bread and jam, pine honey, and always a plate of fruit.

Turkish coffee in Istanbul. Strong and delicious.

I ate dozens of figs during our trip. Some we bought at outdoor markets and others were given to us, freshly plucked from the tree. When we arrived in Kekova, I was standing on the street and looking at the scene when a man walked by with a crate full of figs. As I stared in wonder, he stopped and asked if I would like one. Yes, please.

We traveled on planes, trains, boats, buses, but our favorite form of transportation was an open-top Jeep. The wind was great and it gave us the freedom to explore on rough roads and pick up hitchhiking grannies. I was always in the sun and had to wear a scarf around me to protect my skin.

The call to prayer coming from the minarets was always striking. Waking up to it at 4am was actually quite beautiful. A song in the night and then back to sleep.

In lieu of many vegetarian options, I ate a lot of fish.

The sleepy village of Kayaköy, which we visited on a Sunday afternoon. One delicious meal and a hike up a hill to see the ruined city. Exploring the Turkish countryside let us really appreciate the mountainous, dry landscape of the southern coast and its abundance of farm animals wandering around.