Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The End...

We were going to get up early but I think somewhere the plan changed and they let me sleep in.  I woke up just in time to say goodbye to Dayi Nejat and Yenge Emel.  They went back to their other home in the country.  A beautiful home I hear and we were made to promise we would visit there next time and for longer.   Damla, Suha and I were going to an island to meet some of her friends from high school for breakfast.  We took a taxi to the port and caught a ferry to Buyuk Ada (Big Island).  It was stunning.  The architecture was different yet to everything we have seen to date!  There are no cars on the island (supposedly, I did see ONE).  People take a bicycle or horse and carriage up the hill to an ancient monastery and Orthodox Church.  There are wishing trees everywhere with all sorts of things tied to their branches.  There was string that stretched from the bottom of the hill to the church at the top that you put your ring on and if you make it to the top without it breaking then you get your wish…etc…and a wish box in the church.  It was hilarious.  We found her friends and had a full Turkish breakfast at a great little spot outside near the main square.  The chef even made me an egg white skillet!!  Afterwards, we found a couple of carriages to take us to the top and loaded into them.  We passed wooden colonial style homes, some for sale, others were more 1960 modern era architecture, ALL of them had amazing gardens and interesting landscape designs.  We saw quite a few brides around taking professional pictures in their dresses.  On the way up, the clouds got black and for the first time in 5 weeks the sky drenched the earth (and us) with rain like I had never seen before.  In a covered carriage, I was soaked through!  While it was pouring there was a carriage coming down that it’s horse lost its footing and fell down the other horse was doing it’s best to stay up and the entire carriage was skidding right into ours.  I had a perfect view of the whole drama unfolding before us.  I couldn’t hardly believe it when t the last second the driver somehow straightened his carriage out and missed us by inches.  I could have sworn he hit the next carriage (which would have been our friends) and when we arrived at the top, we waited and waited and waited…finally we called and there HAD been an accident but not with colliding carriages.  There horse had slipped and fallen as well but since they were headed uphill, their carriage started rolling backwards and there was no stopping it:  horses down, slippery first rain in forever, mixed with curvy road and steep slopes with lots of trees, they bailed, all of them jumped out of the carriage as it slid back down the road.  (I giggle now but at the time, I swore I wasn’t getting back in one of those things.)  Suha promised we would walk down which made me feel much better.  (even though we did take a carriage back which was uneventful!)  As I walked through the horses to start up the hill to the church, I noticed that many of the horses hips were showing as well as their ribs.  It made me sick to my stomach.  No wonder they couldn’t keep their footing!!  They are starving!!  Some of them looked really healthy and I couldn’t figure out why some were and others weren’t.  We found a healthy looking set for the ride back down.  We stopped for a round of Efe (a Turkish beer) before heading up to the church.  The climb was cobble stone and pretty steep, it was so beautiful with its views of Istanbul and a harbor below.  There are other islands around that dot the sea here and there.  It was altogether breath taking (literally!!)  We took our time and had coffee at the top.  There were 8 of us, one couple was married, there was a set of twins and one was dating a girl that he met at the first couple’s engagement party.  There was a lot of teasing going on because she was ready to get married but he was reluctant because he felt they were too young.  (28!!)  It was cute and they kept calling her the bride.  I was ready to bring the other twin home for some of my single friends.  He was cute and kind and funny as well as extremely smart and educated.  It was fun watching them all tease each other and genuinely openly enjoy each other’s company.  I felt like one of the family immediately.  The bride was good at telling Turkish coffee fortunes so we all swished the grounds around our cups and then turned them upside down.  She placed her ring on top of her cup and asked me where my ring was and Suha piped up, “It’s in America.” He passed me a coin to put on top of my cup instead.  They laughed and had a good time ribbing the other twin, “look at these two, they know how to take the next step” and on and on it went.  When we finally turned over our cups, they passed them around giggling and telling each other their fortunes.  They even had a phone app that you could take a picture of your cup, send it out into cyberspace and someone would read it and send you your fortune back!!  Hilarious!!  Needless to say, Damla was looking at mine and she got all excited and then passed it around to get confirmation, yes it seemed that there was a proposal in my future!  You can see for yourself here:

I laughed and said, “See, Suha, You ARE going to ask me!!” 

This means I now have to explain that while we were sick and had a lot of down time on our hands we had a bunch of time to talk.  A couple things had happened during the trip that confirmed all of your comments before I left that he was thinking about our future.  When we left Denizli, Ebru said she expected us to visit next year around the same time.  Suha said, “I think you guys will have to come our way next year for a wedding!”  and winked at me.  Later in Konya, Suha left me for 4 hours with his mother and her best friend.  Even though we had no common language, they had me educated on Turkish weddings, married and with 4 kids before he had even bought a ring and asked me!  I told him when he got home and he felt bad because he had not wanted me to feel pressured or uncomfortable but yes, he had wanted to bring me to Turkey, see how I fit in with his family and friends, see how I felt about the other part of his life here and then we could talk about our future.  He didn’t want to try to pick out a ring for me and to ask me formally because it was so canned and unnatural.  He wanted it to be a natural decision and wanted me to pick out something I liked and just plan things together and without the pressure of needing to say yes or no at some surprise moment in time.  I appreciated his thought process and I wished we had talked about that before the women got ahold of me, BUT it was natural to talk about it with them and I didn’t feel embarrassed or pressured at all.  We were both on the same wave length and I was relieved to know that for sure BUT I told him, he still had to ask and I wanted to look for a ring in Turkey.  (Unfortunately, sickness got the better of both of us and we didn’t have time to go look.)

So if the tea leaves are right, or coffee grounds in this case, he will ask me whenever I get around to picking out a ring.  But, in the words of Suha, rings aren’t important, in our hearts WE ARE ENGAGED!!!

We made it back down the hill to the carriages and picked the horses with the most meat on their bones to carry us back down to the bottom.  We ate AGAIN, but this time it was waffles with nutella and fruit piled high!!  Then boarded yet another ferry that carried us back to mainland. 

Damla, Suha and I went back to the house then back out for dinner and hukka.  We were walking around looking for a restaurant but all were full and what I mean by full was that every restaurant had re-arranged their furniture to look like a cinema and they all had a crowd outside their windows all watching the Galatasary game.  Galatasary was winning and there was 5 minutes left when we finally found a seat.  We watched two minutes and then the crowd became so unruly that they charged the field and the police had to escort both teams to safety and then tear gassed the crowd on the field.  It was INSANE!!!  Suha looked at me and said, “are you sure you wanted to go see a live game?”  (Food was amazing, but I’m sure you are tired of hearing that)  When we got home the plan was to take a nap…INSTEAD, a mutual friend from PSU that happens to live in Istanbul came over to visit.  EFE!!!!!!  I adore Efe.  It was so good to see him again!  We chatted until about 12:30am then called a cab.  We picked up the rest of our luggage and I rearranged till the weight was even while suha looked for a cart since we had too much to carry by ourselves.  It took us so long to check in for our flight that we basically walked up to our gate and walked onto the plane.  At security, they took away my wooden dowel that Suha was going to use to make phillo dough!!  Said it could be used as a weapon but it the flight attendant felt that it was safe they could come get it.  We walked up to our gate and all the attendants were busy boarding so no such luck.  We pulled away from our gate and the pilot came on to say that we would be sitting here waiting for 50 minutes due to fog in Amsterdam.  I wanted to push my little red attendant button to ask them to go get my dowel!!

Neither of us remember the flight; it was 3.5 hours of blissful sleep.  Amsterdam was just long enough to get from one gate to the next.  Suha promptly fell asleep and I was stuck awake for the next 10 hours, 4 movies, 3 meals, 2 glasses of wine, long.  Arriving in Portland, they took my dirt from Baba’s garden but the cheese and sauce and molasses was all left alone.  They lost two of our bags in the exchange at Amsterdam.  I crossed my fingers that they would make it to Portland by the next morning or be re-routed to Denver somehow.  Brenna picked us up and made me dinner and helped me repack.  Then she woke up early and took me back to the airport for my next adventure to Denver…It was an incredibly long 48hour day.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Istanbul Day 2

Istanbul….oh Istanbul….I love you, Istanbul!!

We woke up to a big breakfast Saturday morning.  Damla and her parents had a wedding to attend that afternoon so we spent a lazy morning, hanging out with the family.  Around 1 or 2 we all left the house, Suha and I headed downhill on foot toward the wharf.  There were tons of cute shops and restaurants but we were on a mission.  Suha had an agenda and I was blissfully in the dark.  We watched a kid catch a fish while waiting for our first ferry.  Took that ferry to another wharf and switched to another ferry that went to the European side.  He said we could have taken a minibus but he knew I loved water and seeing the city from the sea was much more exciting than sitting in traffic!  He is right J  We landed and disembarked into the largest sea of people I have only ever seen once on a Rome subway platform!  It was all we could do to keep together.  We dove in and literally swam our way through to the spice market where I was overwhelmed by the sights and smells and stopped a couple of times just because I couldn't handle all the stimulus coming in all at once; being jostled from every angle, lights and sparkles, spice scents, yells from the patrons clamoring for your business.  Suha wanted to hurry and we did as much as we could.  Once out of the initial hall the side streets went on and on for miles, shop keeper upon shop keeper, all with the same wares.  I bought a pair of traditional Turkish silk slippers to go with my traditional Turkish bridesmaid dress for Carrie’s wedding.  YAY!!  We finally made it to a main street that had a street car and boarded for the trip up the hill to Mavi Cami!! 

There was a line to get into the cami because they had to make sure all the tourists were dressed appropriately, I was of course so we went in and “Allah Allah!”  It is BEAUTIFUL!!!  Cok cok guzel!!  You can’t help but walk around with your eyes staring up at the ceiling…(every one is doing this and bumping into each other…)  There are prayers going on while all the tourists are taking pictures and gawking.  You can’t help but gawk.  Seriously.  How does anyone pray here.  You can’t even stop staring!!!  I could have sat there and stared for an hour, but we had to move on.  Suha had more tricks up his sleeve so we exited and made our way through a beautiful garden to the AyaSofya (sound like eye of Sophia) – HagaSofia.  We went the wrong way and ended up at the exit.  Asking where the entrance was she said it was on the opposite side AND we had ten minutes to get in before they closed!!  I've never seen Suha run before but we made it in!!  I am SO glad we did!!  It was a Roman Catholic Cathedral that was turned into a Mosque and is now a museum with relics from both pasted one on top of the other.  Some were out of reach so untouched by the change.  Other parts were partially destroyed to take out the religious meaning, even others were integrated into a new design to become part of the new users design.  Half the time you can’t tell which came first the cathedral or the mosque.  It was a beautiful juxtaposition of history and cultures coming together morphing and changing with the times.  I wish we had more time but it is being renovated and some of the old relics are being restored and will be re-positioned on the walls at a later date so that is just one more reason to come back!!

We were the last people out of the doors and walked out into the park as it was getting dusky.  Suha really wanted to be back on the boat before dark.  But he took the time to buy me some fresh hot chestnuts from a cart to munch on on the way back.  We hopped on the train and were on the boat by dark and floated across the straight to the city lights.  It really was surreal.  The bosphorus bridge was all lit up and changed colors every 45 seconds or so.  We made our way back to the first ferry port and Suha started looking for a bus.  There was a line of course and it wasn't moving because the cars on the road weren't moving.  We called Damla and they were stuck in traffic too back at Golden Horn, where we had just came from.  Suha started looking for a taxi or other solution when I piped up, why don’t we just take the ferry we took here this morning?  He said, “OH!  Are you smart or what??  I am so used to taking mini bus from when I lived here!”  We laughed and ran to the gate just in time to walk on a ferry (they come once every hour!) – it was providential!! 

We arrived home just after Damla and her family, we all sat down to dinner and then crashed.  It had been a long day for all of us. 


Sunday, September 22, 2013


Well, It was very hard to leave Anne and Baba.  There were many tears shed.  I had a chance to take some photos into a shop two days ago and have some parting gifts for them.  The presents were a hit.  Baba had taken our photo against a Turkish flag that I had printed on a plate for him.  Suha and I had kissed Anne on a hike out at the water fall in Antalya that I put on a “magic cup” that is black and the picture appears when she pours her tea in.  I was glad to get to leave them with some printed copies of our trip.  It was surreal, being on a plane and landing in Istanbul, I keep turning around looking for them, we have been with them for 4 and a half weeks! 

When we landed we realized that we didn't have to hurry so we were the last ones off the plane.  We found a cart for our luggage (we have gained a bag due to all the gifts and shopping).  We sat at Starbucks (I swore not to eat anything American on this trip but Suha has insisted on Starbucks at every terminal, so be it).  He bought 3 more mugs (he has a collection of Starbucks mugs from around the world) while I repacked and consolidated our 8 bags down to 7 and checked 4 into a secure “Left baggage” area.  We will now be using 3 of our bags and hopefully I can remember on Monday where everything goes so the weight is distributed correctly again!  And hopefully we don’t gain anymore luggage!!  So far we have broken both of our carry-on’s so dragging luggage around has been kind of a pain.  Anyway, so we are quite a few bags lighter and we left the airport on a bus to Taxim Maydane.  We arrived and Suha was lost, everything has changed so much.  After wandering around for a bit, he got his bearings and took me straight to the best kebab place YET!!  It was simple and perfect!  Afterwards, we walked through Taxim Square which was very quiet and very much like the live web cam feed we have seen online minus all the commotion.  Damla, his cousin, said it is unpredictable and mostly quiet during the week when people are working so we figured today (FRIDAY) would be a good day to go see it.  There is nothing spectacular as far as I could see but we didn't explore since Suha was on a mission to visit his old School.  We walked into the university which has security.  He traded his ID for a badge and we walked around Istanbul Technical University and the stories just kept going.  It was awesome!  “Here is where the girls had their textile classes; we weren't allowed to take them.  There was only one girl in my engineering class, she was more manly that me!  And VERY smart.”  “Here is where I did stand-up comedy, here is where I hosted a radio show for a couple of years, here is a teacher I hated!  He failed me 5 times!!  Here is where we would have parties and I was a part of the security. “  There was a plane in the courtyard common area.  We drank tea and he people watched and told me more stories.  It took him 10 years to graduate with his first bachelor’s degree in engineering!  He said he was too busy doing other stuff.  He was a poet and a cartoonist too.  After he graduated, he moved on to do his military requirement and then to Antalya to find a job.  After a few months he moved to America to get his English degree and his masters in Mechanical Engineering, etc.  We went to the copy/ student store and the same man was there running it.  We hung back because there were students clamoring for pens and notes and paper.  When he saw Suha, he laughed and got a big smile on his face.  We stood around and chatted for a while.  He gave me a mug (that’s 4 now to join our 3 that go with the 5 we have in our luggage back at the airport!)  and said I’m officially practically an ITU person now!  We also went down into the deepest deep of the school where he learned to play table tennis in hopes to see the one teacher who helped him graduate.  HE WAS THERE!!  They had a nice chat and we left, Suha was just buzzing with excitement.  He said when he had left in ’01 he swore he would never step foot on that campus again.  I think he is in a much healthier mindset now J

We walked down a steep hill to Dolmabhce Palace, the last home of Attatuk, and around to Beshiktas Pier for a cup of tea while looking at Asia and the Bosphorus Bridge.  After boarding the ferry for all of 3 lt ($1.50) we crossed the straight and saw the channel from the water!!  It was AMAZING!!  It’s kind of reminiscent of San Francisco!  It’s built on 7 hills and has lots of color.  We grabbed a taxi on the other side and made our way to his Aunt and Uncle’s home. 

We were met by the most adorable people!!  Damla, (I am already predisposed to like her since she is Suha’s favorite) is the sweetest person you ever met.  She works for her dad’s company on the production side of things like Margaret did for our dad.  His Uncle’s business is in industrial metal door handles, railings, etc.  His uncle knows 7 or more different languages as he is a European business man and has just added two new contracts in Nigeria and Venezuela.  His wife is a sweet woman with the biggest smile.  She cooked a phenomenal meal that rivaled Anne’s cooking.  He son also came over bringing his family and mother in law.  His wife speaks very good English and interrogated me on “our” future plans, she said “okay it’s girl time, tell me the news.”  I loved her!!  She has a 2 year old son and is 6 weeks along on her second.  She has one brother and has always wanted a sister so Damla was a gift when she married.   Her son’s name Demir is tattooed on her wrist (thankfully! It’s now the only name I remember besides Damla which I have known for a year) and it means IRON!  So they call him Iron Man!  (oh yeah, and the uncle has retired and turned over the business to the son so they are in the Iron Business now too!    Demir was a whoot!  He was quite shy but as usual, kiddos don’t take long to warm up to me and by the time dinner was over we were playing and making up games of our own. 

I think I’m going to love Istanbul….

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


So Konya has been quite a bit different than the rest of our trip.

We have been sick the ENTIRE time.  There is much less to do here so it’s easier to take it slower.  Besides the basics, get up, get dressed, eat, go to bed…we have maybe had one small adventure every day.  Mostly our days have been filled with naps or camping out in bathrooms.  I feel that as of today, I am over the worst of it and on the mend (for sure this time!)  As for poor Suha, he can’t breathe, sitting down, standing up or laying down.  If we were by the sea I would make him go clear his sinus cavities like I did before we left.  Never had a sinus infection go away so fast before!!  Anyway, we are far from the sea. 

Here it is hot but a dry heat that turns freezing cold at night and sears your skin during the day.  I had given up catching up on this blog thing because I have had no energy whatsoever.  But now that Suha is down and I’m feeling better, I have time AND energy J

So here are some short stories that happened in the last week:


We went to visit Rumi’s tomb.  It is said that his tomb is upright or at least tall enough that he stood in it when they buried his son next to him.  Muslim’s believe that a profit’s body never rots.  The mausoleum that stands over his tomb has undergone a lot of changes since 1238!  He was buried in a garden and when a patron asked if he could build something magnificent over his tomb his son said that God’s sky was the most beautiful covering anyone could ask for.  So nothing was built.  Why there is a building there today is a mystery to me, my audio guide numbering system was all messed up so the story got a little convoluted for me.  There are many relics there, one of the hairs off Mohamed’s beard in a box (you couldn't see it).  People where kissing and smelling the box.  I couldn't smell a thing.  There was a piece of rice with God’s name written on it, a copy of the oldest Koran, Rumi’s cloak and hats.  Ostrich eggs (not sure why) hanging from the ceiling, leaves that had Arabic written on them and beautiful other pictures and paintings.  We had cay and sat and learned about Rumi and how his father moved from Afghanistan to Konya to get away from the Mongolian invasion.  He was so sad and lamented his move.  Everyone loved him.  He married and had a son.  His wife died and he married again and had another son and a daughter.  He heard a gold smith  pounding away and started to sing and dance to the tin of his hammer and thus was born the Whirling Dervishes as well as marrying off his daughter to the gold smiths son J  When he died people of all walks of life, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, rich and poor came to see him buried.  He was loved by all. 

His students would spend three days in a corner contemplating if they wanted to become a Dervish.  After three days of fasting and watching, he would go into 1001 days of completing 18 tasks.  If he finished this then he would begin his studies, be given a room where he would fast, pray, study and everything he needed would be brought to him.  The dervishes practice 4 hours a day, the y spin in one direction the whole time, with one hand reaching up toward God with his head leaning toward that shoulder showing his trust in God and one hand reaching down to earth and mankind. 

We went to see the whirling Dervishes and it was pretty darn mesmerizing!  I can’t believe they can start and stop so gracefully, I’d couldn’t walk a straight line after turning that much, okay I couldn’t turn that much without falling down!  They had a flute play for a while that was just plain flipping amazing.  I could listen to that all the time.  There was a cool drum and mandolin and other stuff I didn’t recognize.  The whole ceremony is steeped in tradition and was fun to watch.  A few of us clapped and the Muslims in the crowd got upset.  Suha said, “It’s not a performance to clap for, it’s a prayer.  Clapping cheapens their offering to God.”  I told him us tourists didn’t know any better, it was our way of appreciating the beauty, not meant to offend. 


Friday, September 13, 2013


Well, to catch you up on last weekend:

After Olympos, we had one day to go for one last swim in the sea at pebble beach, pack up, do last minute shopping and hit our favorite piyaz/kofte place Mustafah's.  They have become friends as well as our cashier and security guard at the little corner store where we stop to get soda water every morning.  We said our goodbye's and went to Barish's for the night.  Deniz cooked us a goodbye meal and we had a good time just enjoying the whole family together for the last time this season.  (this is the night I started to have bowel issues)  We got up early the next morning and Barish dropped us off at the bus station before work.  It has been fun to watch the two brothers together.  They are SO different yet so much alike.  Hugs and kisses and we went to find kahvealti and a bus ticket to Denizli.  No time table and the next bus was at least a couple hours out so I read a book and Suha looked around.  There wasn't much to do but wait.  On the bus there was a guy who basically acted as steward like on a plane, serving us snacks tea and water every hour.  We drove up out of the city and had quite the view.  We have been driving around Antalya for two weeks now, and I had no clue the city was THAT big!  We climbed up a huge mountain range to a high flat area that went a long way, past a couple villages and then descended down into the valley of Denizli.

We jumped off the bus early at Ozan and Ebru's University Hospital.  Its a research hospital like OHSU.  Ozan is a geneticist and Ebru is an ophthalmologist.  Ozan met us and took us to his office.  We waited till his shift was over and then he took us down to the oldest part of town.  We walked all over which was a nice stretch for our legs.  The 4 hour bus ride plus lots of sitting was not what we were used to on this trip so far!  There were lots of eye glasses shops and Ozan took us to his friends one because they would let us use their bathroom.  He said, at least I know it's clean.
Unfortunate for me it was a classically turkish squatty potty as I so endearingly call them.  He took us to the "old castle" which doesn't exist anymore except that where it stood is a mass of shops in a maze that spirals up and down and you don't even realize you have traveled underground till you come out again.  Along this maze were some metal smiths making tubs and ovens and all kinds of tools for your home.  You could hear some banging away, some welding, others sitting have tea.  There was a cami hidden in the middle and the call to imam happened while we were there.

 They pointed out a man among some henna dresses washing his mouth and face preparing to go in for prayer.  We eventually made our way through the city to a restaurant where we met up with Ebru and the boys.  We had a lovely dinner with many courses and the best kunefe I have ever tasted.  I told Suha he needed more practice ;-)  We went home and put the boys to bed, and watched a movie IN ENGLISH!!  While drinking wine from their friends vineyard in Izmir and cay.  It was a rough night so I hung around the house that morning to see if I would get better while Suha and Ozan went to the bazaar for veggies and Ebru went to meet a patient.  Can climbed in bed with me and we read the Richard Scarry Book "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go!" We found goldbug on every page and had a great time.  Needless to say I couldn't be 15 minutes from a bathroom all day so we went no where.  Really it seemed like the whole family didn't mind having a lounging day.  We played with cars and mr potatoe head.  Watched some National Geographic and How It's Made.  Can told me about all the plants they were growing on the porch.  He really is a smart kid.

By the next morning I could go an hour without a bathroom so we went to Pamukkale aka Cotton Castle.  There were great bathrooms all along the way through the ancient city and they were free!  It worked out great!  It was really hot out so the kids were super excited when we hit the pools even though it was warm water.
Can asked why they had never gone there before.  Poor thing, its a touristy area so locals from Denizli rarely visit unless they have visitors themselves.  I told Can I would come again and we would skip the ruins and go straight to the pools next time.

 If we hadn't been so hot tired and hungry we could have stayed and played in the pools.  As it was, every thing was super expensive and we thought we had packed enough but didn't.  We headed back to town to a restaurant where I had seen cooked sheep heads in the window that first day and Ozan said don't worry, no sheep heads, you will love it...and I did :)  On the way home Can was sad and didn't want us to leave.  Ebru said if felt like we had been there a lot longer that a couple of days.  "Its like you live here and it just feels right!"  I had to agree.  I was going to miss mornings with Can reading books.  Playing with toy cars with Can and Deniz.  Cuddling on the couch.  Wine with Ozan.  Conversations with Ebru.  Really we had an amazing, VERY low key, relaxing weekend.  We hated to get on the bus and say goodbye.  Lucky for me it stopped twice over the 8 hours so I could run to the restroom.  We hit Konya about 5:30am and paid out the nose for a taxi instead of waiting an hour more for a bus.  It was worth it.  I went to bed and don't remember much till about noon.  I walked out on my balcony just in time to see Baba and Anne pull up in the car.  So I went down to haul up all their goods and our luggage etc.  It was perfect!  I got to welcome them home like they did in Antalya to us :)

Now, Konya....what are you like???