3/24/2015

Walking Through Kuzguncuk, Istanbul, Turkey



Walking through the cobbled streets of Kuzguncuk

A group of us took a trip to the tiny neighbourhood of Kuzguncuk, on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus. It is such a fascinating area with synagogues, churches, and mosques, built within a stone’s throw of one another; evidence that the area was once a home to a mix of Jews, Greeks, Armenians, and Turks.

We began at the Surp Krior Lusarovich Armenian Orthodox Church (built in 18350). The interior is beautiful, with large oil paintings of the disciples, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos so you will just have to go to see for yourself.  We asked about services there, and the verger told us that, as he was the only Armenian left in Kuzguncuk, a visiting priest held services on a Wednesday for any of the community who wished to travel there.


From there, we walked through the narrow streets of old, typically Ottoman, houses. 


These houses are so iconic that they are regularly featured in Turkish soaps, 
commercials, and travel magazines (much to the annoyance of the locals).


Of course, we couldn't resist taking photos everywhere we went!


Unbelievably, this realistic looking window, is a stylish piece of wall art in Kuzguncuk!


Behind the fence, there are communal gardens for planting vegetables,
Terre looks surprised to find them there!


In the middle of the plots, there was this plant sculpture. Very cool!


We slogged up a long hill to see the 500 year old Jewish cemetery.


Unfortunately, many of the stones had fallen over and the cemetery looked uncared for,
saved only by the wild flowers that had grown up around them.


On the way down, we visited the Greek Orthodox Church of Hagios Panteleimon

This church was built in 1821 on the site of a church dating back to 550, during the reign of Emperor Justinian. We weren't allowed inside the church, but we did manage to visit the sacred spring, which stands next to the church. It is tiny, but beautiful, with a healing spring inside, and sacred icons on its walls. Unfortunately we couldn't take photos there either, but we did spend time gazing at the icons, and making a wish or two at the sacred spring.


We passed this restaurant. I loved the colourful splash of colour!

After our exploration of Kuzguncuk, we lunched in Ismet Baba, a famous fish restaurant, perched on the edge of the Bosphorus.


The bean starter...


...followed by salad


...and then the fish course


...followed by Turkish tea.

We are so lucky to be living in this fascinating city. We are never short of things to do and places to explore. And, especially, we are never short of wonderful friends to share our experiences with. Every day I wake up happy, and looking forward to the day ahead.

Elizabeth Coughlan

3/11/2015

Jessica's Photography Expedition in Istanbul


Jessica, the Photographer

My granddaughter Jessica took her first photograph trek to Eyup, Istanbul, with our local photography Club. She decided her theme would be the local wildlife. So here is a selection of her images. Enjoy!


Eyup is a holy site, so many people want to to be buried near there. 
A a result, there a many cemeteries, and they are full of cats.


Some people go there especially to feed the cats...


...and they can be seen tucking in!












Jessica also found a sleeping dog...


...and some pigeons having a bath in the fountain

Well done, Jessica! What a lovely collection!

All photos by Jessica Bell, Photographer.

3/09/2015

Sahi Istanbul: Jessica's Turkish Delight


Sahi, near the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque, Karakoy

We discovered a delightful new place in Karakoy, called Sahi, that was running a promotion where you could make your own Turkish Delight. I thought this would be fun for Jessica, so we went to try it out. The word "Sahi" in Turkish means "real" or "true", and so it was, with authentic recipes dating from early Ottoman times, together with more modern versions. Everything in the shop/cafe spells "Ottoman", from the handicrafts on sale to the delicious food on offer, even though some of the more traditional designs and flavours have been given a new, and modern twist.


Jessica started by brushing over the prepared base of the Turkish delight to remove the paper backing


She carefully removed the paper, assisted by the chef

Jessica was asked to choose from a whole selection of fillings. She chose to use dried apricots and pistachio nuts, with a powdered sugar covering.


First Jessica chopped the dried apricots...


...then she sprinkled the pistachio nuts along the edge of the base...


...and placed the cut dried apricots on top.


The chef helped Jessica in her task


He showed her how to roll the base around the filling


Jessica cut off a section and firmly rolled it together


Then she cut the Turkish Delight into pieces with a huge pair of scissors


And here are the pieces, all ready to eat in their wooden box.

That was such a fun thing to do, and I know Jessica enjoyed the experience. If anyone else is thinking of trying their hand at this, the promotion finishes on March 22, so there are only two more weeks left!
Elizabeth Coughlan

1/21/2015

Street Photography in Laleli and Aksaray


Where am I? Is this still Istanbul?

Laleli and Aksaray are cosmopolitan areas of Istanbul largely inhabited by Eastern Europeans. In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in another country completely! Undaunted, I scoured the area for things to photograph in my study of street photography for Thatcher Cook's workshop in Istanbul.


Obviously the clothes are designed for leggy, blonde Russian girls!

The area is mostly full of clothes shops and wholesale dealers. Everywhere you can see men transporting huge bundles along the streets, heading towards the bus station.


Men can be seen trundling huge loads...


...or waiting around for the next lot!


...or just waiting around!


Tas Han, the old bazaar quarter

I did stumble on one interesting bazaar area, that of theTas Han. Built on the site of a Byzantine water cistern, Tas Han was constructed in 1763 as part of the Laleli Mosque complex as an inn for travellers, and later as a barracks for soldiers. The han gradually fell into disrepair until it was rescued by a local man, Kemal Ocak, who saw its potential, and financed its restoration from 1993 - 1996. Today it is a thriving shopping area, but with old world charm, and some very good restaurants.


The original stonework was preserved as much as possible in the restoration of the han, 
as can be seen in the upper floors...


...and in the long narrow corridors of shops


Nearby, these workmen were playing with a dog; business seemed slow...


...although the shoe cleaner was busy with a customer...


...and these ladies were selling their knitwear.


Finally, it was time to go, so I took the tram back to the hotel ready for the next adventure.

This was an interesting area, because of the different types of people there, and its cosmopolitan feel. I think I will have to visit again soon.

Elizabeth Coughlan

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I couldn't resist this one!