Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lazy Day

Today was a pretty lazy day.  It was a holiday and I thought we were going to town but we woke up ate breakfast and went back to bed.  It was so hot we had the AC on all the time.  We woke up early afternoon.

Playing with Ege and his other Ananne (gma)
Ege and Deniz
Halil took me on a walk to the cami to show me some flowers – they were AMAZING!!  Then he proceeded to take us on a tour of the neighborhood and show us the different fruit trees and flowers and plants.  He named them in Turkish and when I knew them in English I would add a name to the list.  We saw pomogranites bursting open and tasted them.  We saw green Oranges that grown in perfect spheres!  We saw lemon trees and even saw two little green lemons on one.  HUGE grape fruits, everything needs a couple more months before they are all ready to eat.  He showed us some fig trees and then we found a fig tree and he picked one for me to eat!!  So in two days, I went from never having seen a fig before and seeing one in a store to eating one straight from the tree! 

Looking at pictures of my nieces and nephews
Suha and I kept walking while Halil went home to help Suheyla get ready for company.  Baris and Deniz were coming over with Ege and Deniz’s parents.  We had tea and cookies with dried fig, lemon zest, cinnamon and walnuts in them, plus borek and left over sweet ekmek.  It was a lovely night!  We played with all the puzzle gifts I brought.  The block puzzle has been a favorite frustration for everyone.  It is fun to watch them pick it up and try at different times.  Sometimes they help each other.  Mostly they bring it to me and I do it for them.  Last night Deniz was the first to do it on her own!! We all cheered and Ege squealed the loudest and longest.  Tomorrow morning we are going to the sea early in the morning again. 

"a flower in the flowers" ~ Suha

cok guzel! - very beautiful



cami - church

Halil in the beautiful flowers

father son - baba ogul

nar - pomogranite

ekmek firin - bread shop

Melon truck

igde - ???

portakal - orange

Limon - Lemons

incir - fig


independence day turkey style


orgu - knitting the cow stomach pattern

Enjoying a cool breeze on the balcony

Friday, August 30, 2013


Another best day EVER!!

Every morning I wake up to the sun in my eyes; it comes through the window and demands that I get up!  This morning, I was the first to get up!  I went over to the window and the sun was just coming up, still sleepy, more quiet than demanding.  It was beautiful.

My First Fig!!
Peynir Eritme - Fondue
Ekmek Kadayifi
Anne has been taking us on a tour of Turkey while we sit around the kitchen table.  This morning we visited Corum and the black sea region.  (Anne is from (Ch)orum, Baba is from Black sea region).  She made a salad that makes her cry for her son every time she eats it.  (It is Suha’s favorite)  She also made the most simple and BEST BEST BEST Fondue EVER!!! WHAT??? Yep, from the milk of a relative in the village his father comes from, they made cheese that they freeze and then thawed out and mixed with homemade butter to make fondue for breakfast which is an every morning event there.  For me, it was a delicacy, for them, it is normal.  It was also the best fondue I’ve ever tasted.  WOWZA!!  We had a laugh about how I had taken Suha up to the A frames in Hatcher for a special fondue treat with a panoramic view.  He never let on that it wasn’t special at all but at Anne’s table he shrugged his shoulders and said the fondue had been “eh, so so. Not like this”  It’s true.
Sera - Greenhouse
Got Ayran?
I finally got to hold him!!
Waiting for the show to begin!
Basically, we had breakfast, Anne and Suha went back to bed.  Halil and I watched the news, talked about historical figures and I wrote my blog.  Much much later, Suha and I walked down to the store to get Anne some things for dinner as well as my very first fresh fig EVER!!  We visited a green house that had huge vases and a couple of local stray cats, one that took a liking to me.  The owner said that she feeds them, “if you do not show mercy here where you are on earth then you will not be shown mercy in heaven.”  She and her son are moving to England to help her brother run a restaurant next summer.  Suha had a great chat while I inspected the different species in her plant kingdom. 

Holding Uncle Suha's hand, I'm jealous...
Later we had a dinner of ravioli with yogurt sauce (corum) and a sort of cake that is soaked in a simply syrup with whip cream that is on the verge of being butter and walnuts on top…it was…indescribably good and also another one of Suha’s favorites. I was so full I took advantage of their “long laying” ritual and laid down for a nap. Suha woke me up saying Barish and Deniz were here to take us to a water light show…it was 10pm and I could have slept till morning.  I was so groggy they almost canceled but I insisted I would wake up soon.  While we were driving, Ege started puking and I started dry heaving right along with him.  If I had known he was sick I wouldn’t have insisted for sure!! He was like a limp noodle, sweaty and tired.  He is such a shy little thing and add to it not feeling too well, he REALLY didn’t want Suha or I to touch him or look at him. 
poor sweet sick Ege Bey
The water fountain light show was of EPIC PORPORTIONS!!  There was music and lights and of course dancing water.  They started with a pop song then a classical piece I recognized but can’t name, then a folk song every one clapped to, and last but definitely not least, a song about Atatuk that EVERYONE sang LOUD AND CLEAR in big boisterous vibrato! They back lit pictures of him on a fan of water… It was thrilling and I got hair raising goose bumps.  This weekend is a holiday, August 30th Zafer Bayrami, which means victory celebration.  There are flags being hung everywhere and it is very patriotic. 

Sick boy finally asleep
Excited over a very large cup of iced coffee!!
Everyone waiting for the water show to begin
best toy EVER

Afterwards, we sat down for an iced coffee, Kara would have loved this!!  A tall glass of iced coffee with whipped cream and coffee ice-cream on top! Ege fell asleep so when we got up, I asked if I could carry him (HA!! Devious aunty trick for kids who are mommy and daddy centric!!)  I carried him and sweated buckets and couldn’t stop smiling for half an hour!  We stopped again for kokocrek and he woke up.  He took everyone on trips through the umbrella isle while we ate, except me of course.  He was now awake.  We walked down the street with the rest of the families.  He saw an airplane toy you push and the propellers go around, best $5 we ever spent!! He was a happy kid and we walked all the way down to the sea to see the city at night.  On the way back we found a play area in a park.  I ran to the structure with Ege and went down the big slide after him, we ran back around giggling and he went down the small one while I waited at the top of the big one….Here was my chance to make a connection, sans language barriers and coy shyness, we were playing and this was the most important.  He ran back around and came up, no hesitation, he plopped in my lap and we went down together.  Woohoo! He yelled that was the best slide ever!  We went again and again and again.  I was soaking wet from sweat.  We went on the swings and saw horse and back to the slide.  I have a new best friend!!!  We only got him to move on by promising we could go to the park with Jenny tomorrow.  LOL!!  It was an amazing night!!
Baris joins us on the slide
Feeling better at the park
Jenny has a new friend!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Aquarium and Museum

Here lies the most beloved loyal dog..
Today we had a big breakfast again because it is the most important meal of the day.  Every morning, it’s cheeses, jams, bread, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, sausage of some kind or some other yummy treat , AND Cay (tea) of course!  Every morning, Suha and I walk to the corner store for a sparkling cider drink.  I have been wearing my fuel band and don’t know how to change to goal, but days we go out, I blow my goal within the first half of the day.  Today, Anne decided to walk to the corner store (unheard of!!!) and was proud to show me her STEPS number.  It was so cute, she is adorable in every way.  We also then take a family nap…aka, too hot to stay upright.  AnnAnne called today!  I got to speak to her, my Turkish is limited but I said “Merhaba, nesselsun! …..(unlumudum)….sen seviurum Annanne!”  (not sure about all the spelling, but “Hi, how are you….(I don’t understand her response)….I love you, grandma!”  She was so cute and SO very happy to hear me AND she understood me!!  Even more important, for I had to yell due to her hearing.  She cried and said she wanted to see Suha before she dies.  That was the plan before we got here but Anne said we didn’t have to so Suha said we weren’t going.  Needless to say, no we are!!  I am very glad about this as I was upset when the plan changed in the first place!)

Suha took me to the aquarium and the museum today.  We wore ourselves out!!  First we took a mini bus (otobus) to the aquarium.  It was a first for both Suha and I.  It was an adventure as the doors were broken and one driver was hanging out it trying to fix it while the other was driving…Then they switched.  The driver left and the other changed the bus number in the window…I thought, does this mean we are still going to the museum??  Suha got nervous and asked, we were still on the right bus. 
We arrived and the building itself is an architectural masterpiece!!  It also contained a water park, a natural science cinema and a snow world (yes, an entire floor dedicated to making its own snow to play in!!) and an Aquarium.  We decided we were only interested in the Aquarium since it was very touristic and very expensive.  60 lira EACH, which is $30/person, but he got us in by saying I was his wife for a small fee of 35 lira for both of us, Turkish prices.  Eyes down, keeping quite and handing him money goes a long way, I guess I look Turkish!!  As soon as we were in, I became typical tourist, camera came out and I couldn’t stop pointing and exclaiming with the rest of them.  It actually wasn’t that busy, thankfully, we had perfect views of everything.  It was the best aquarium EVER, each tank had a theme for the fish and area of the earth it was highlighting.  The music was very awe inspiring and the whole experience was rather dramatic.  There were giant eels, sharks, sting rays, tuna, sturgeon, and all kinds of colorful reef fish.  The tunnel was the coolest thing I have ever experienced.  You seriously feel like you are underwater, though the shape of the tunnel made me sea sick a few times do to the movement of the fish and the distortion from the glass.  I sat and sketched for 45 minutes , we finished the tunnel and decided to go back upstairs to the bathrooms before we left.  HA!  We literally waded through people to get back and I couldn’t believe how many people could actually fit in the halls!!  How could they see ANYTHING!!  It took us a while to get out.  Then we hit the money maker, the REAL tourist trap!  They had 4 guys photo shopping pictures of us and selling them for a pretty penny.  Of course we bought some, grin!
When we walked outside there was a parking lot FULL of tour buses!  We were happy to grab some cay and ice-cream and get off our feet for a while.  Next we crossed the highway and walked the “boardwalk” back up the beach to downtown.  It was a great walk!!  It was also 40C outside, so our energy was sapped by the time we reached the museum.  We decided to re-enter the AC and keep going just cause it was cooler inside than out.  I couldn’t keep up with the audio guide as not everything was numbered, so I randomly pressed numbers and got myself familiarized with the different “ages” of tools and artifacts, different ways of life and death and gawked at the small details on even the oldest pieces.  There were amazing sculptures that I just cannot get enough of EVER.  I could visit that place again and again and stare for hours.  I wish we had had time to sit and sketch!  We saw some tash mezar (stone grave box?) that were beautifully carved, sometimes with different Roman gods, sometimes with a geneology, sometimes with epitaphs like the one that was made for a lady’s beloved dog that had a poem on the side.  “here lies, fido, the most beloved dog…”  Some people had too much money, even back then!
Notice the guys in back photo shopping away!!
We saw some of the oldest coins made, treasures captured and later returned, a painting of Sante Clause, beautifully and intricately cut paper, Aribic words painted by writing tiny words inside and more very artistic and wonderfully executed pieces.  Their clothes, “high heels!!”, purses , wooden doors, intricate ceilings, gold rings, jewelry, blown glass bottles and oil lamps…the wonders were endless!!  We bairly got out before it closed.  Again it was practically empty as the buses were leaving as we arrived.  We just hit everything just right today!  Suha said, did I save the day?  He means was the day a success, and yes, EVET!! It was a great success!! We were so tiered we caught the trolley to our favorite tea garden and gave our feet a rest before the trek home.  I noticed a bone in the floor near one of the tables and exclaimed, “IS THAT A BONE??” and in true Suha fashion, he responded, “yes that’s what we do with tourists who can’t pay.”  He cracks me up.
Mado - very popular ice cream
We stopped at our favorite spice store as I told the shop keeper we would be back to by some of the tea he made up for me.  The one that was so strong it would clear the worst cold with one whiff.  We spent 80 lira!!  I had no idea it was going to be THAT expensive!!!  Next time we send anne, she always argues them down.  They definitely know I’m American and even my 20% discount for coming back obviously didn’t go very far.  I will love the tea though.  Its potent!!

10km of pebbled beaches
We came home to Ege yelling off the balcony, “uncle Suha!”  We ate a lovely dinner of leg of lamb and a fresh tasting bulger salad that you stuff in lettuce leaves with homemade pickles…Gah!!  I love this food!!  Baba taught me how to play Tayla a board game we call Backgamon.  Never play a counting game with a university math professor!!  Basically he played himself 4 games in a row and we were tied.  My feet, hands and feet hurt so bad I was sent to bed early and don’t remember falling asleep.  I woke up early to a beautiful sunrise and everyone still asleep.

Santa Clause

Our favorite cay place

"This is what happens to tourists that can't pay."  ~Suha