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Thursday, December 18, 2014

a year in istanbul













Today is our one year anniversary in Istanbul! It feels a little silly to mark it, but it's been kind of a doozy, and we've—to use the expression everyone uses when trying to describe a minor shitstorm—learned a lot. Fittingly, we're flying home tomorrow at dawn for the holidays. It feels so strange to be going back to the States with a toddler after leaving with (practically) a newborn. How time flies!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

joshua bell in istanbul

Josh and I went to see a fantastic concert last night at the Zorlu Center: Joshua Bell was in town to promote a new recording! (You might know him from The Red Violin or this Washington Post piece from 2007. Or as, you know, one of the best violinists in the world...) He was accompanied by the piano and played, among others, some happy Schubert and predictably gloomy Prokofiev sonatas. I've had a mild crush on him since I was a teenager, and he's a thrilling performer: animated and acrobatic. Even Josh, who isn't a huge classical music person, enjoyed it immensely. Here are a few interesting things about Joshua Bell . . . 

His (non-musician) parents started him on the violin after they'd noticed he'd been replicating tunes by stringing rubber bands across his cabinet drawers and opening and shutting them to change the pitch, when he was four. When he was four. When I was four, I was probably eating glue and Josh was trying to make circles in his hair by taking a hole puncher to his strands. (Really.) 

His violin is a Stradivarius; this particular Strad—dated to the early 1700s—was bought by him for around 4 million, but its worth is now estimated at $14 million. Yikes! (The violin has also been stolen multiple times in its 300 year history, and produced by its last thief on his deathbed.)

And, lastly, Gene Weingarten wrote a piece on him in the Washington Post in 2007. It's a little gimmicky, but the general premise is this: Weingarten asked Joshua Bell (whose best concert seats sell for thousands) to play incognito, for money, in one of D.C.'s metro stations during morning rush hour. The question was: how many people would stop to listen? How much would he make? The answer? Well, you can read—or even watch, if you'd like.

(I was actually living in DC during the time of that free morning concert, and initially worried I'd been one of the people who'd blithely walked by—I frequented the metro during rush hour, commuting to and from school as a 1L. But! That particular Friday morning in January, I was violently hungover in bed the morning after a law school event. Safe!)

image via the Washington City Paper

Tuesday, December 16, 2014



We spent the afternoon in Kuzguncuk, a little neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul, a few weeks ago (and I posted a few preliminary photos here), but I forgot about the rest, so here they are! 

We've been having kind of a lazy few weeks in Istanbul: Josh and I got a bad stomach bug a grand total of three times back to back (me twice, him once) . . . but Aaron has remained—somewhat strangely—symptom-free.  We're both recovered just in time to see Joshua Bell perform tonight, so that's a relief! (We've missed, so far, a total of two fantastic—and kiiiiiinda expensive—classical music concerts in the past six months due to illness—it's a curse.) 

The most exciting news around here, I guess, is that we'll be leaving for the States this Friday for our first visit in over a year. We'll be divvying up our two weeks there among upstate New York, Brooklyn, and the Cape. I'm really looking forward to it, but I'm also, weirdly, a little nervous. 






Wednesday, December 10, 2014

tips for istanbul, installment seven: on cats and dogs

Walking around Istanbul, you'll see a lot of stray dogs: many of them large and aggressive looking, usually roaming in packs of two and three. You'll be able to differentiate the strays from the pets by the white tag in their ears—the city has done an okay job of marking and fixing those dogs, and various fishermen, shopkeepers, and restaurants keep them generally well-fed. So fortunately, they're not the mangy, vicious strays they might look like upon first glance. 

Very generally speaking, the dogs are nothing to worry about. Unless, rumor tells me, you happen to be running along the Bosphorus in the very early hours of the morning, during the canines' hours to rule the sidewalk. Just another reason to never run so early. 

Aaron loves dogs ("Daw daaaw!"), and we figured out pretty early that the dogs left on the streets at this point are—by an admittedly imperfect filtering process—the ones who generally ignore or like people. Istanbul is . . . not a dog culture, to put it mildly. Any dog that showed aggression would not exactly be left to roam on its own, I'd imagine. 

The cats, on the other hand, are terrifying. When dealing with stray animals in the city, keep this in mind: The dogs have survived because they're friendly. The cats have survived because they're mean

P.S. If you ever see an injured stray dog or cat on the streets (sadly, not an uncommon occurrence, given the driving), you can look up the local vet, who is usually happy to take a look, as long as you can provide its exact location. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

reading: the paying guests

I've been reading Sarah Waters for several years now, and am so excited to sit down and finish this newest novel. She's been (somewhat simply, I think) pegged as an author of lesbian literature: most of her books—with the exception of the incredibly creepy The Little Stranger—have lesbian protagonists. But, she also writes absorbing mysteries and atmospheric historical fiction. Up until this point, The Night Watch is probably my favorite. It's set during the London Blitz, and told backwards. I know it sounds hokey, but it's expertly done, and just so, so good. 

This has been described as vintage Sarah Waters and I love the little I've read of it so far. Fallen aristocracy; the momentous and unsettling interwar years in London; a genteel house, and, in it, a genteel family, both teetering on the edge of ruin. I'm all in! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

an afternoon at the istanbul modern

photo 2 (3)


photo 1 (3)

(a favorite)

photo (1)

(the mosque outside)

(hanging spheres)

(and hanging books)

(not creepy at all, right?)




(escape, again)