Istanbul Turkey, Day 5 of Europe 2011

15 06 2011

Teşekkür Ederim!                                                                            Day 5- June 15                                                                           Highlights: Hotel location, Beyazit Square, Ahmed, Zeinub

Teşekkür ederim means ‘Thank you very much’ in Turkish. If you ever go to Turkey, learn how to say these words and say them right… Theh-Sheh-Koor   Eh-Dheh-Rim. You can do it!!

Istanbul is everything that everyone has said it is… full of culture and history, east meets west, blend of old and new and it is HUGE! We have dedicated a total of 6 days to this city (4 at the beginning, 2 at the end) and for good reason too. There is just so much to do… and when there is that much to do, you have to balance it with blocks of having nothing to do which means smoking a lot of nargile (Sheeha/Hookah/Water-Pipe) and drinking a lot of Efes, the local beer.

We are staying in Sultanamet which is considered the ‘old city’ of Istanbul. It’s a great location to be based at because a lot of the major sites like the Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Mosaic Museum, Grand Bazaar and the Basilica Cistern are all close to each other and were walking distance from where we were – The Barceló Hotel. Oh yes… and the Topkapi Palace was minutes away as well.

By the time we arrived and got settled in Istanbul on Wednesday the 15th, it was sometime in the early evening so we decided to explore the area. While we were walking, we discovered somewhat of a common theme amongst other Muslim countries we have been to before…  most area’s have themes to them as opposed to what we see in North America where there are plazas and strip malls all over the place. In Istanbul, while we were walking, we noticed that all of a sudden we were in the ‘children’s’ area. Stores upon stores of children’s clothes, children’s toys, mini bikes and mini shoes everywhere. Then we turned the corner and we saw tires, car parts and handy services all over the place, then came the women’s clothing section. And the entire time all I could think about was ‘For the love of Jesus, please tell me there is a ‘Food’ section coming up because these corn  and ‘ekmek’ (bread) stands that I’m seeing on every other corner are not going to cut it for me right now.

It’s true when they say ‘Ask and you shall receive’ because moments after I had that thought, F and I stumbled upon an entire intersection full of restaurants. Of course since we were never told about it, we assumed that this little area was a secret gem that nobody knew about. Seeing as every restaurant had ‘Kumpkapi’ written beside it, I investigated a bit further and discovered that we were in the ‘Kumpkapi/Beyazit’ square… a very popular and well known area in Sultanamet.

One of the best parts of travelling is the people you get to meet and interact with along the way. While I tend to be a bit shy sometimes, Farhan is the opposite. Any opportunity he has to say ‘What’s your name? I am Ferrrhaaan and this is my wife, Farrahhh’ he will take it. I really am thankful for that because if he wasn’t as friendly as he is, we wouldn’t have learned that our waiter’s name is ‘Ahmed’, and learning to say ‘Teşekkür Ederim’ or ‘Hesap’ (bill) would have taken a lot longer than it did. I have to tell you about the cutie little peanut we saw at this restaurant we were at. Ahmed told us that she was the owner’s granddaughter… Zeinub, and she was the cutest, chubbiest little thing ever. I couldn’t help but take a million photos of her just sitting and pouting at one of the tables. Poor thing was probably bored out of her skull watching a bunch of adults around her smoking nargile and drinking Turkish cay (chai), but for us adults… it couldn’t have been more perfect. We had people to the left of us playing backgammon,  people to the right smoking away, Zeinub running around trying to entertain herself and the entire street just singing, dancing and laughing the whole night. I swear it felt like Christmas in the summer. Even the way this entire intersection was lit up… Christmas lights and Icicles everywhere… just no snow. It was perfect!! As Farhan said while we were walking along the water in the dark at 930pm, watching tons and tons of fishermen at work ‘Wow, Turks definitely know how to do maja (party).’ That they do dear husband… that they do!

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Dear London… I love you!

14 06 2011

So I’m not gonna lie… as much as there is to do in London, F and I didn’t really ‘do’ a whole lot while we were here. We spent more time sleeping and getting over the jet-lag than actually seeing the city. It doesn’t help that we had to stay up till 5:00am on Sunday and Monday night to watch basketball and hockey (hey it’s the playoffs!)… both which turned out to be more than disappointing.

Farrah was sort of right when she said ‘You guys came all the way to London to watch TV and sleep!” While to a degree I can’t really argue this, there have been large chunks of time when we have been awake and our time could not have been better spent. Seeing as I used to live here and Farhan has already been, we skipped all of the touristy things and got to focus on what really counts… having Ben’s Cookies, making a stop at Karen Millen (my favourite clothing store), indulging in Cannoli and  of course lots of catch up time and qt with our friends.  Lunch with the ‘crew’ in Maida Vale(minus AK and Farouq 😦 )  on an unusually sunny day… dinner at Bar Boulud in Knightsbridge with the Manglas. Yummy Chinese at Good Earth and late night ice cream just because… There is no better way to spend a vacation than eating and hanging with friends!!!

Being back in London has been like a dream for me. I don’t need to frolic around Oxford Street or kick any pigeons in Trafalgar Square to feel that infectious energy this city has to offer. All we needed to do was walk down my old street and pass by my old flat and I was ready to move back. Don’t get me wrong, I love love love Calgary… it’s home. But London… come on!  I will admit, the general lack of sun is quite a deterrent… but I will just get a light therapy box and I’m good to go. And honestly, living in a city where you can say ‘So, you wanna go to Paris this weekend? Meh… I feel like pizza, let’s do Italy” is a city I want to live in.  Thank you to my parents for having me in London and giving me the gift of unlimited stay in this country… we will be back!!!

 Next stop… Istanbul, Turkey!





“I Got So Many Clothes, I Gotta Keep ‘Em At My Aunt’s House” -fsj

13 06 2011

Hello London!  Day 1

We got into London on Saturday (June 11), and headed straight to the Mangla residence where we stayed with my good friends Natasha & Anil and their cutie little baby boy Ishaan. Seriously this kid needs to be in some sort of commercial or something… he is the most beautiful child ever and so happy! I kid you not, Ishaan smiles and laughs in his sleep!!! Brilliant! Ishaan I miss you already!!!

On Saturday night, I went out with the girls for Aliyah’s hen do and left Farhan and the boys to their own devices… I mean how much trouble can they get into babysitting a three month old!

This is definitely a night worth mentioning, but unfortunately much of it needs to be censored so it may sound a lot less exciting than it actually was… but believe me, there was more action going on this night than I have time to write. I will admit that ‘Adonis’ was my very first strip club experience… and that it was – an experience that has been involuntarily burned into my memory for life. All I am going to say is I really feel for that poor girl who was suckered onto the stage to be the victim of the ‘Black Stallion.’  Aliyah was definitely a trooper though… we got to the club and put her on quite the mission of fulfilling little requests that were very ‘hen-appropriate.’ I think that pretty girl standing in the cue for the loo was a bit put off by Aliyah’s ‘advances’… but Tash and I definitely had a good laugh watching her in action!! It’s a bit out of context now… but at the time it was pretty hilarious when we were leaving the club and Farrah started singing a song she recognized. Hearing  “I got so many clothes I gotta keep ’em at my aunt’s house” come out of  my very proper girl, Mrs. Jamal’s  mouth was definitely a highlight of my night, so much so that it was worthy of a blog post title! We ended the party by grabbing a bite at Maroush… can’t leave London without at least one stop at this signature spot!

Even though I was the one who had a planned event going on for our first night in London, Farhan was the one who ended up strolling in at 5:30am!! Turns out all the boys decided to go out and rip it while papa Anil stayed in to cuddle with Ishaan.   Thank you Farhan for using your inside voice when you came into the house! And thank you Imshan for getting Farhan home safe and sound!! ( yep… I just read this last paragraph and I’m fully aware that I may as well have just shouted out to the world “Hey, I’m over thirty and I have back problems!’). whatever dude… it is what it is. 530am is late! and inside voices are necessary!