Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Perfect Sunday

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We spent the day with my friend Neslihan and her husband, Emre. They spoiled us with a beautiful Turkish breakfast, consisting of 5 types of cheeses, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, an assortment of fruits and nuts, homemade jam, honey, nutella and omelettes. There was a constant flow of tea, and no shortage of humorous and interesting conversation. We spent two hours talking and savoring this breakfast feast. Afterwards, Neslihan hosted a special Turkish coffee lesson for Caglayan and I to perfect our skills. Following one indulgence after another, we walked along the Bosphorus road, took in the sunshine and discovered an outdoor cafe hanging over the water.  We sipped chai at the Bosphorus Cafe as boats passed at every speed and direction, chickens wandered by our feet and people  marvelled at this special, allbeit bizarre cafe and its incredible location. It was a fun and relaxing Sunday in Istanbul…

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I was first introduced to this charming cafe by my friend Hayley, who works with me at Aci. The colorful buildings and tree-lined streets are two of the numerous reasons Cihangir remains a haven from the bustling city. Cafes  and boutiques are scattered throughout the streets of Cihangir. Kahve 6, a simple play on words (6 is alti in Turkish, so together it makes the word Kahvalti..the Turkish word for breakfast), is one such special cafe. It is an intimate and vibrant space, with a courtyard hidden in the back. It’s food is fresh and flavorful. It’s crowd is young, hip and internationally diverse. It is always busy and joyous on Sunday mornings when I come with various girlfriends to catch-up and chat…

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Kahve 6: My Latest Breakfast Destination in Cihangir

Istanbul Day Trip: Fenerbahce Park and Kalamış

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We spent last Sunday soaking up the sunshine and exploring a new neighborhood. Kalamış is on the Asian side of Istanbul, and situated along the waterfront. Fenerbahce Park, a yacht club and a line of of restaurants bring Kalamis to life.

We started our day sipping tea on the ferry to Kadikoy. We caught a dolmus (a shared taxi) headed to Bostanci and it dropped us off at the top of Kalamis. We wandered along the waterfront, laughing and chatting. Cafes lined the street, with the yacht club as a backdrop. Pop music of every decade and origin competed for my attention, people walked hand-in-hand with loved ones and familes watched as their children ran around the park. We strolled through the park, sat along the shore and ended our day at one of the cafes, eating fajitas and sharing apple and mint nargile. It was wonderful.

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My New Tuesday Activity.

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I have been searching for a network and community to fill the void that grew after I graduated from Scripps. I have many wonderful women in my life, however I miss the constant dialogue and discussions that would constantly emerge when I was surrounded by smart, outspoken and politically minded women. I have found this community and dialogue once again at Amargi.

I just started going to an English discussion group sponsored by a women’s rights organization called Amargi. They are located in an old apartment directly off Istiklal Cadessi, the pedestrian-only street in the center of the modern city. The offices are nestled in the back, and the centerpiece of the space to gather for discussions, events, planning and seminars. The English conversations are organized by their intern, and invites members of any English-level to come and engage in discussions and debates about feminist issues. We use TED lectures, a variety of articles and personal stories to initiate discussion and enhance the vocabulary and comfort of the non-native English speakers in attendance. We sit at tables and sip tea, while discussing the incarceration of journalists, the complete disregard for environmental preservation in the face of development and what it means to be a Feminist in Turkey, and in the Middle East. I leave stimulated and energized. The discussions give me a window into current events and political discourse in Turkey, and the perspective of  progressive, politically minded women in Istanbul. I love it!

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First of all, the illusions of sipping champagne and basking in bridal camaraderie as you wait for your ‘aha’ moment seem to be a complete and absolute myth. I do not know where these images come from, (perhaps Hollywood chickflicks are the most likely culprit), but they could not be further from the experience I had. However, I will also acknowledge that New York City was perhaps not exactly the best place to escape the bridal princess syndrome that rages in Istanbul.

Exhibit A: The Bridal Boutique at THE Macy’s of Manhattan (which claims to be the largest department store in the world and takes up an entire city block). I saw dresses that would not fit into a car, let alone a closet. I saw corsets, I saw sparkles, I saw sequins and bling of every kind. The Jewish American princesses of the world were well-represented, as were their mothers, grandmothers and everyone else with a formal or informal role in the wedding. Within 5 minutes I had to leave. The bright lights, beads and sequins were too much for me to stomach.

Now, to the process as a whole. Appointments are made and must be kept for anyone to give you the time of day. They are limited to an hour, and while that time is satisfactory to try on the handful of dresses that are flattering for your body shape, and within your budget, you feel like your fate has been sealed and every employee has decided whether you would be a real client or not by the time the session comes to a close.

The search: We went to every type of shop imaginable. The special bridal collection hidden in the back of a boutique in SoHo, the overpriced and make-up stained J Crew collection, and several cute boutiques that serve as a refuge from the cheap fabrics, and mechanized, emotionless ways of David’s Bridal. We went to 5 shops in total, in just 3 days. Apparently, my plan to find a dress in this amount of time was a little ambitious. Many brides spend months simply focused on finding the right dress. My search was that much more complicated because I was hoping to find the perfect dress for two very different weddings. I needed something that I could dress-up and bedazzle for our Istanbul wedding, and dress down for the free-spirited island wedding of my dreams. Additionally, it turns out that it often take 5 months to make the dress, and then several visits to a tailor to ensure that it fits. This was all new information to me.

Two special New York Bridal paradises and boutiques:

Lovely, hidden in a quiet street walking distance from Union Square, this boutique has every type of dress for anyone who envisions a truly extraordinary and unique dress. It’s style appealed to my romantic and vintage tastes, and the staff was warm and unaffected from the Wedding Industrial Complex. We ate sushi on a rainy New York day, and then spent a wonderful hour playing dress-up at Lovely. It was very fun.

Saja, a small wedding boutique for the free-spirited bride who wants something special, but off-the-beaten path. The store itself claims to be a refuge for the `modern, etherial and non-traditional` bride. All of the dresses have beautiful details and light, flowy fabric. I felt like a greek goddess in each and every dress. While it took me 3 visits to finalize and clarify my selection, this was where I bought THE dress.

THE dress: It is beautiful and simple. It is elegant and flattering. It flows and is perfectly my style. It has a beautiful back, a plunging neckline and falls to the floor. I will be myself on my wedding day(s). I will feel free, and I know I will be able to dance. I am excited.

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Wedding Dress Shopping in New York

New York, New York

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So sweet, they named it twice!

I first went to New York wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at the age of 19. My friend Amanda was a student at NYU, and I was in my first year of college, eager to see and experience the world. I vividly remember walking through the MOMA with wonderment, laughing and dancing on the Brooklyn Bridge, and exploring Central Park with sheer delight.  I saw my first Broadway production (Chicago), and have been enchanted with musicals ever since. We indulged in every type of specialty shop and cafe (or at least as much as our budgets allowed), and wandered through hipster hangouts and posh neighborhoods as if we owned the place. And, in so many way we did. There is something for everyone in New York, and if you can find it, it is yours.

This trip marked my fifth visit to New York City. My time in New York was wonderful, but in such a different way.  I now have a rich, cosmopolitan and international life. A life which my 19-year old self only dreamed of. I have seen more of the world than I could have possibly imagined. And strangely enough, for this trip New York served as a meeting point and a taste of home. It provided me with the comforts and pleasures of my family and friends, as well as my favorite foods and the abstract comforts of American life. The city also has a special significance: it is the city where Caglayan and I met, and where we first fell in love.

During our visit, we stayed with my new extended family: Caglayan’s aunt and uncle, for a few days in a beautiful 4-level brownstone near W 125th street. Then, my mom and I moved into our luxurious hotel room on the 31st floor of the Affinia Dumont, located on 34th Street. The Chrysler Building sparkled from our hotel room window, and the Empire State building was a mere 5-minute walk away.

Every meal was an indulgence: sushi, enchiladas, phad thai, dim sum, cupcakes and more. I ate everything I had been craving for months, and it met every expectation. New York’s offerings are simultaneously overwhelming and thrilling. I had every type of food and restaurant imaginable within a 3-block radius of my hotel, and I did not even try half of them. Perhaps, I will have to go back?!

Some highlights:

We celebrated our engagement with the friends and family who celebrated our relationship from its infancy at a beautiful bistro called The House, just a few minutes from Union Square. We told stories and shared memories as we sipped champagne and savored each bite of our meal.

My mom and I spent our last night on Broadway. We saw the spectacular production of Memphis. We sat on the second level hanging over the stage, as we laughed and danced along with the fabulous production. This of course was after sipping cocktails across the street at the famous Broadway hangout Sardi’s.

A wonderful bagel brunch with my friend Yael and her mom on a beautiful Sunday morning, looking out at Central Park.

A horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park and a wonderful lunch at The Boathouse on a beautiful sunny day, with the frozen lake in front of us.

Much, much more…

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Snow in Istanbul!

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Yes, it snows in Istanbul. In fact, unlike any city I have ever lived in, Istanbul has 4 real seasons throughout the year. In the winter, there are days where there is absolutely nothing I can do (or wear) to stay warm enough, and in the summer it is sometimes so unbearably hot that I cannot do anything at all. Of course there are also the grey and rainy days that I know all too well as a Seattle native.

It snowed the final week of the semester. Our parent meetings were cancelled, and the whole city frantically tried to get home before the city was covered in snow. I returned from my 9-day trip to New York City to snow-covered Istanbul. It is beautiful and tranquil, and certainly a sight to see. The pictures below are from my school after the first snow day, and include one shot from my apartment (the perfect place to watch a snowy day)

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