Christmas Day on Büyükada

We saw this family of cats as we climbed the hill to Angela's house.

I managed to rally from my flu-like condition on Christmas morning, and was able to sail across to Büyükada for A wonderful Christmas Day lunch with Angela, Korhan and family. We met Petra and Saïd on the ferry and walked up to the house. It's just as well we did, as we needed the exercise, given the wonderful array of food we were about to consume.

Korhan opened the champagne...

...while Benjamin handed round the delicious aperitifs

Sibel and Earle entertained us with stories of their work in far flung places...

...and David thoroughly enjoyed himself

The meal was delicious and the company excellent

Petra and Benjamin were sitting to to Sibel's right...
Nisa was between Earle and Said...

...and Korhan sat at the head of the table and carved the two geese
...while angela ensured that everything was perfect.

Thank you everyone for such a splendid Christmas day.

Christmas Eve in Istanbul

 Mustafa carves the Turkey

Last Thursday, after a strenuous day of shoppping in an amazing place called Şark Han, I picked up some diabolical germs that laid me low for two days. As a result, I missed Gabriela's Christmas Eve dinner. Fortunately, David took photos for me, so that I could see the happy gathering.

The assembled guests

When the guests thought they couldn't managed another mouthful, 
Mustafa brought out his quince pie!

I was sorry to have missed such a jolly evening, but I did eventually have lunch with Gabriela so we could catch up.


Photography Day 7: The Princes' Islands

Transport on Buyukada

No tour of Istanbul is complete without a visit to the islands. So on Jerry's last day, I took him to this idyllic spot. We visited Büyükada (The Big Island), the largest of the 5 inhabited Princes Islands. Angela met us from the ferry, and we took a horse and buggy ride around the island, stopping from time to time to take photos. Apart from the municipality vehicles, like the ambulance, police car, and rubbish truck, no cars are allowed on the island, so the only means of transport is by horse and buggy.

We stopped for a cup of Turkish tea, so the horses 
could rest after pulling the carriage up a long hill climb.

We stopped from time to time to photograph the view...

...while Angela admired the view from the buggy

After our ride, we had lunch in a fish restaurant by the sea. 
We chose our first course from the mezzes on offer...

..and finished with a cup of Turkish coffee

The view from the restaurant was stunning

Later, we walked up to Angela's house for tea, and just had to find room 
for this delicious cake and ice cream dessert

On our return to the mainland, we decided to photograph the fish market by the Bostanci port. This fish seller insisted on having his photo taken with Jerry.

This was such a fun day, and I hope Jerry enjoyed it as much as I did!


Photography Day 6: Istiklal and Taksim Square

 New lamps for old!
We came across this man selling lamps in Karaköy

No visit to Istanbul is complete without taking time to stroll down Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Street). It was once known as Grande Rue de Pera, home of foreign embassies and fashionable shops, but was renamed in 1928 to commemorate the 1923 conclusion of the Turkish War of Independence. Today, it is definitely the place to be seen, judging from the hoards of people walking up and down its almost 3km length, so it was imperative that Jerry should include this on his itinerary.

The funicular that travels from Karaköy to Istiklal Caddesi

We took the ferry from Kadiköy to Karaköy, and headed for Tünel, the funicular that would take us up the steep hill to Istiklal. Tünel opened in 1875, and is the third oldest underground system, after London and New York. It is not a long journey, as the Tunnel is only 573 metres long! Once at the top, we began our walk along Istiklal. The first thing we saw was the vintage tram, that rattles up and down between Tünel and Taksim Square, usually with a bevy of young boys hanging off the back.

The vintage tram that travels along Istiklal.
It had stopped for some reason, so people were posing 
for photographs next to it

There are always crowds, promenading up and down Istiklal

We came across this street performer...

... and a man selling Turkish ice-cream, called dondurma.
Turkish ice-cream is an acquired taste. It is made from powdered
orchid roots, milk, sugar and mastic (a tree resin),
and is rather chewy and glutinous.

We stopped off for a typical Turkish lunch. I had chicken kebab....

...followed by Aşure, also known as Noah's Pudding 

We finally reached the end of Istiklal, and came to Taksim Square, often referred to as the "symbolic heart" of Istanbul.  It is there that the Independence Monument stands, a testament to the achievements of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the present day Republic of Turkey.

One side of the monument depicts Ataturk the soldier...

...and the other side shows Ataturk the Statesman.

Of course, this is only a fraction of the photos I took that day. Istanbul is very photogenic, and I will never tire of it. I hope Jerry enjoyed the day as much as I did!


Photography Day 5: Whirling Dervishes

The evening began with music.

Our next photography expedition was a challenge. Jerry and I went to watch the Whirling Dervishes, who are always interesting to watch, although very difficult to photograph, as we were trying to capture fast movement in low light.

Next, the instrumentalist changed into their symbolic garments.
...the camel hair hat, representing the tombstone of the ego, 
and the wide skirt the ego's shroud.

The Dervishes are advanced students of Sufism, and are sometimes described as the mystics of Islam, whose beliefs centre on the quest for personal enlightenment. The 14th century Arab historian, Ibn Khaldun, described Sufism as: ... dedication to worship, total dedication to Allah most High, disregard for the finery and ornament of the world, abstinence from the pleasure, wealth, and prestige sought by most men, and retiring from others to worship alone.

The Dervishes enter in black cloaks. Their removal symbolises 
being reborn to the truth. The Sufis then cross their arms, 
to show the unity of God.

The Dervishes always whirl from right to left, with the right hand turned upward to the sky, and the left one to the earth.

There are 4 parts to their ritual, and they whirl 
faster and faster with each one.

At the end, the Dervishes put on their black cloaks and pray...

...and gradually leave the room to go and meditate.

After that fascinating experience we left for the ferry and home, although we couldn't resist taking night photos on the way!

The Kadiköy tourist balloon

Reflections in the water by Kadiköy harbour.


Photography Day 4: The Bosphorus

 We set sail from Eminönü

Cruising up the Bosphorus is one of my favourite ways to spend a day in Istanbul, and we wanted Jerry to enjoy this experience while he had the opportunity. On the dockside in Eminönü, tourists are often badgered by touts offering Bosphorus Cruises, but these only offer a short trip as far as the second bridge, at extortionate prices. The best way to see Istanbul from the Bosphorus is by taking the Istanbul Deniz Otobüsleri (IDO). So, it was there, at the ferry dock by the Galata Bridge, that David, Jerry and I met up with our friends, Gina and Ron, for a day out on the Bosphorus.

Jerry took this photo of Gina and me taking photos from the rail of the ship. That must be me on the right, it can't possibly be me on the left!!

On both sides of the Bosphorus is a wonderful array of palaces and other remarkable residences, so we photographers happily snapped away as we sailed.

Dolmabahce Palace has a special place in the hearts of Turkish people. 
It was here that the founder of the Turkish Republic, 
Kemal Ataturk, lived and died.

Ataturk's yacht, the Savarona, is moored in the Bosphorus.

As we sailed along, the seagulls flew overhead

Our destination was Anadolu Kavağı, near the entrance to the Black sea, where we enjoyed a leisurely, delicious fish lunch, before our return trip along the Strait.

The little fishing village of Anadolu Kavağı

Ever since a man on a dolmus waved a TL100 bill and pointed to Jerry and the picture of Ataturk, we have noticed the likeness. Gina took this picture so we could compare. It is extraordinary!

 Passengers wanting to embark from Sariyer. Notice the complete lack of any health and safety features ...but no one fell in!

We saw this extraordinary vessel being moved by tugs along the Bosphorus. Please can anyone tell us what it is used for?

We had such a wonderful day. I will never tire of taking that trip. I hope Jerry enjoyed it as much as I did, and that he got some great shots!

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