Taksim and Kadıköy

Yesterday, we took the metro down to Taksim and walked around for a few hours. It is definitely a more tourist-y area but there were a lot of great shops and restaurants, and the architecture was really beautiful.

Fresh grapefruit juice, only 2 TL

Fresh grapefruit juice, only 2 TL

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The weather here last week was beautiful; it was over 50 degrees most days. This week has been cold and rainy, but compared to home I really can’t complain about the weather here.

Today, we took a ferry over to the Asian side of the city to Kadıköy. I’ve officially been to Asia now! It was cold so we only stayed for a little while, but while we were there we walked around and checked out the shops and markets.

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Not sure if this is something I’ll try…

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Sarıyer market

To sum up the past few days:

Tuesday: Went to Istinye Park (a big mall in Istanbul)

Wednesday: Went to the weekly market in Sarıyer (see more below), met Hannah and Ryan’s friends

Thursday: Learned to play tavla (backgammon), saw The Hobbit at Istinye Park

Friday: Took the metro for the first time to Kanyon (a really neat outdoor-ish mall), tavla tournament with Hannah and Ryan

The market on Wednesday was a really cool experience. There were so many stands set up along the road under tents. Most of them were selling produce, but some were selling things like clothes, shoes, and bed linens. The produce was all fairly inexpensive compared to what I’m used to in the US. Here are some of the photos I took:

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First days in Istanbul

Hello friends and family! I’m in Istanbul, so I hope this blog will keep you all up to date on what I’m doing here for the next 5 months.

I arrived yesterday afternoon after a 9-ish hour long flight. The view of the city as we landed was beautiful. I was amazed at how warm it was when I got off the plane; it was around 12 degrees Celsius, or 53 degrees Fahrenheit.

I met up with my cousin Hannah and her husband Ryan at the airport, and then we took a cab back to their house in Sarıyer, which is the northernmost district on the European side of Istanbul. Hannah and Ryan both teach at Koç University, and I’ll be staying with them for a couple weeks until I can move into my dorm at Boğaziçi on Feb. 4th.

Last night, I got settled in and we got pide (Turkish flatbread pizza) for dinner.

Today the call to prayer from the mosque woke me up around 6 am, but I fell asleep once it stopped. It’s pretty loud since the mosque is literally right outside Hannah and Ryan’s house, but there’s something nice about hearing it.

the view from Hannah and Ryan's balcony; the mosque is really close and you can see the speakers on the minaret

The view from Hannah and Ryan’s balcony; the mosque is really close and you can see the speakers on the minaret

Today we took a minibus into downtown Sarıyer where we shopped, got döner for lunch, and sat by the river to eat. The weather today is beautiful – it’s been mostly sunny and around 60 degrees. We walked along the river for a while, I exchanged my American money for Turkish lira, we bought some eggs and baklava, and then we came back home.

eggs and pumpkin at an outdoor market

Eggs and pumpkin at an outdoor market

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View up the Bosphorus from Sarıyer

fish for sale in Sariyer

Fish for sale in Sarıyer

I’m realizing that I need to start working on my Turkish skills, which are basically non-existent. Since I haven’t traveled much it’s pretty disorienting to see every sign in a new language, even if I was expecting it. I’ll be taking a Turkish class at Boğaziçi, but that doesn’t begin until Feb. 18th so hopefully I can get a head start on my own.

I’ve only been here for a day, but I’m loving this part of the city and trying to learn as much as I can.