Friday, June 04, 2010

72 Hours in Istanbul

[Friday 3 June update: just now got internet going at my house.  Here's what I wrote last Sunday, before all the madness with the flotilla emerged.  Needless to say it's been busy.]

I got here safely, albeit tiredly, on Thursday afternoon.  I'm not sure when I'l get internet access in my apartment, so I've been keeping ideas in my notebook for things to write up when I get the chance.  I was considering turning them into longer pieces, but I rather like the idea of contextless paragraphs - since I'm still getting used to the time change (I accidentally overadjusted and set my biological clock to somewhere in Central Asia, so I'm re-acclimating now), these disjointed paragraphs are a pretty accurate representation of how I got through this weekend.  


Sitting in an outdoor cafe in an alley under the Bosphorus Bridge with friends in town for the long weekend from Embassy Riyadh, drinking tea, smoking shisha, and laughing in sheer, silly delight at the colors and sounds around us.  So different from Saudi Arabia!  We could never do this there.


First call to prayer - I feel like I'm back at home, even though I would never call Riyadh home.  I'm in my element here.

Seeing the skyline lighting up with fireworks commemorating the 557th anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of the city.  Seeing billboards around the city wishing the people a happy anniversary.

Young boys diving into the Bosphorus in their underpants while people play backgammon at the waterside cafes around me

Walking down the western bank of the Golden Horn, coming across a flotilla of apparently old-school wind-powered ships, with masts and sails and the whole nine yards (nine yardams?), from a dozen different countries, each crew speaking Arabic, Indonesian, Polish, Dutch, German, Russian...  the ruse was revealed when I saw the nuclear logo on the side of the Polish ship, and when I saw them set sail as a group towards the Black Sea an hour later, sails still furled.

Warships, cruise ships, cargo ships, sailboats, fishing boats, ferryboats....

Seeing two giggling teenage girls sharing an ice cream, one veiled and in a knee-length cloak, the other in a miniskirt, both texting frantically and eyeing the guys walking by

My oven is somehow a microwave at the same time??!  

Not being screwed over by a cabbie - what a glorious feeling.


  1. Glad to see you're settling in so far. Pictures! Post pictures! Nu-cu-ler powered sail boats? What'll they think of next?

  2. Sounds amazing, hopefully you will get that biological clock readjusted soon.

  3. Glad you made it there safely! Can't wait to hear more.


  4. Yay!! So glad to see you!

    And so glad to hear that all is well and that you're happy!

  5. WOO HOO! Congrats on getting there safely!

  6. Not relevant to this post, but here's the Chinese Velvet Corn Soup recipe (from the cookbook Simply Delicious)--it's really easy and good!

    2 cups chicken broth
    1 tsp soy sauce
    1/4 tsp Asian (dark) sesame oil
    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    1 (14.5 oz.) can cream-style corn
    2 cups torn fresh spinach leaves (or 1/2 a 10-oz. box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry)

    1. Combine the broth, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a medium saucepan; bring just to a boil.

    2. Slowly pour in the eggs, stirring constantly with a fork to form shreds of egg. Stir in the corn and the spinach. Simmer until heated through, 3-5 minutes.

  7. It's me, Ksenia! :) Nice to have found your blog. looking forward to reading. :)

  8. Glad you had a safe journey! Love reading about your first views and impressions.