Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Music of Istiklal


On the weekends, something special happens: music fills Istanbul’s busiest street. Most Friday and Saturday evenings, there is a wonderful addition to the old street car that runs through the heart of Taksim, along the pedestrian street of Istiklal. Behind it, you will find a moving stage car with a group of musicians performing inside of it. Each night there is a different band playing a different type of music. I have heard everything from salsa to blues to rock and roll. As the old street car moves down Istanbul’s busiest street, the musicians play. Catching a short performance is always the highlight to my evening.

Read more about the Tramway here.

Van Kahvalti Evi: The Best Breakfast Place in Cihangir

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As you may know, Cihangir is home to many cozy, charming and lively cafes that offer wonderful breakfasts. One of my favorite weekend activities is a breakfast date in Cihangir. As a result, over the past year I have written rave reviews about several different breakfast places in Cihangir. But, if you only have one morning in Cihangir, you must go to Van Kahvalti Evi.

This place is the star of the Cihangir breakfast scene. There are lines of young hipsters and expats along the sidewalk, awaiting a coveted seat in this bustling cafe. The staff runs around delivering one glass of tea after another  and work harder than any other wait staff I have ever seen. Several minutes after you place your order, numerous small plates cover the table. Unfamiliar delicacies await you. They include a ground walnut paste with honey, a hearty mixture of wheat and egg and the best tahini you wil ever sample. Additionally, a wide variety of incredibly fresh cheeses, the juiciest tomatoes, fresh kaymak (clotted cream) and homemade honey. Read the rest of this entry

A Boat Ride Along the Golden Horn


One of my close friends returned to the United States this week. He was my Turkish study partner, as well as our neighbor. Before he left, we had the opportunity to celebrate with him and his roommates. We spent last Saturday on the Golden Horn.

One of the best things about Istanbul is the numerous opportunities to celebrate along the Bosphorus. I have spent evenings in terrace bars and hotels with 180 degree views of the Bosphorus. I have enjoyed glorious nights hanging off the Bosphorus at seaside bars and restaurants. And, this week we explored the Golden Horn in a small little boat with 12 interesting people who were all in Istanbul for different reasons. We had a Copy Editor for the Turkish Daily News, a Spanish translator who translates Ottoman maritime texts into English, a Turkish lawyer and an aspiring pastry chef. Read the rest of this entry

Happy Thanksgiving!


This year was my fifth Thanksgiving away from home. While it breaks my heart to away from the established traditions, lively discussions, delicious food and my wonderful friends and family, I am delighted by the wonderful new and established traditions that shape my own celebration!

My friend and I befriended a Turkish man with a New York accent on the bus, while we were returning from the Sabanci Museum yesterday. He was a Business professor at the esteemed Bogazaci University and lived in the United States for many years, while teaching at Temple University. We started by talking about Seattle and the Bosphorus, but after leaving the bus, our interaction continued with one final conversation. He reemerged from the crowd to wish us a happy Thanksgiving. In fact, he was off to celebrate with his Turkish American friends!

He inspired us. His enthusiasm for American life and Thanksgiving was surprising, but also endearing. Originally, I was saving all of my energy for our established weekend extravaganza with friends (we always reschedule Thanksgiving festivities to ensure we get the whole weekend to celebrate and prepare), but we decided to have a Thanksgiving dinner of our own last night as well. Now, keep in mind we came to this decision at 6 PM last night…so we did not have much time.

How do you prepare for Thanksgiving dinner in 2 hours? Read the rest of this entry

My Istanbul To Do List:


After 3 1/2 years there are still new experiences awaiting me in Istanbul.  Here are some of the  places I want to explore this Fall:

1.) Visit SALT Galata 

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2.) Visit the Istanbul Aquarium

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3.) Read The Museum of Innocence, then go to the Museum of Innocence

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4.) Spend the Evening at Sefahathane

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5.) Admire the Mosaics of the Chora Church

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My Date with the US Consular General (and his fabulous wife)


As I walked through the gates of the Consular General’s residence, I knew I was in for a treat. The home is perched on the steep hillside in one of my favorite neighborhoods of Istanbul. The grounds are green, the staff is friendly and the Consular General and his wife proved to be the most gracious hosts.

We gathered for the monthly meeting of Professional American Women of Istanbul. We sipped coffee and tea out of porcelain cups and used napkins with the seal of the United States printed on them. We snacked on the comprehensive breakfast buffet. Eventually, we gathered in the main sitting room to listen to introductions from the Consular General, the head of US Security forces in Istanbul, 2 Marine officers and a liaison from the Citizen services office. Here are some of the highlights of the meeting and the lively discussion:

1.) The Istanbul Consulate is busy! There are more than 14,000 Turkish students travelling to the United States each year and more Turkish people are applying for Tourist visas than ever before. As many of you know, Turks are required to complete a long and comprehensive visa application process before they travel to the US and many other countries. Thus, the Consulate is very busy filing these applications and conducting interviews to complete the visa process.

2.)Istanbul is a very popular destination among high ranking officials. During our visit, Secretary Janet Napolitano was in town. Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and President Obama have also been to Istanbul in recent years. The Istanbul Consulate receives more high-ranked officials than most US consulates around the globe. The city’s geopolitical significance rivals its touristic appeal…

3.) American companies are looking to Istanbul as a center for business in the region. 3M is planning to establish a super-hub in the upcoming year. It is predicted that with the weakness in the Euro zone and the instability in the Middle East, Istanbul will continue to be a desirable location for investors and American business interests. Read the rest of this entry

The Istanbul Marathon


One day every year, the city stops. Roads are closed and pedestrians own the streets. This event is the Istanbul Marathon and it occurs the first weekend of November. With perfect weather we joined the festivities for the first time this year. Now, I will stop pretending and let you in on a secret: you do not have to run to be part of this special day. We signed up for the Fun Run and the unique opportunity to walk across the Istanbul bridge, the symbolic union of Asia and Europe.

We danced as we awaited the beginning of he race. We watched as red balloons were released into the sky. We gathered Turkish flags as we crossed the starting line. We walked triumphantly past the Mayor of Istanbul as we began the 8 km walk. Within 15 minutes, we found ourselves walking across the bridge. People stopped and posed for photos and took in the view. The whole city was ours to embrace. It was the perfect day and a wonderful way to introduce Istanbul to my dear friend Jenny.

You can sign-up for the Fun Run in the two weeks prior to the marathon. Booths can be found in the busiest areas around the city. Locations include the Mecidiekoy Metrobus entrance and near the Taksim Square Metro entrance, as well as most shopping malls on the weekend.  It is free and registration allows you to receive a t-shirt and a medal for completion of the race;)

Read the rest of this entry