Friday, September 21, 2012

The Olive Tree

Olive Tree at Sunset, Yalikavak, Bodrum, Turkey

The olive tree..... Known throughout history as the tree of wisdom, hope, peace, light, fertility, health, wealth, and balance, among other things.

Sunset is my most favorite time of day... always, anywhere.  I took this in Yalikavak in Bodrum, Turkey.  This lone olive tree was standing there enduring the wind.  It wasn't the best sunset that day, but when I leaned to the left just a tiny bit, the sun hid behind this tree.  I was amazed at the outcome.

But I guess that is life.  Sometimes if you slightly change your viewpoint, you see things in a completely different light.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Anadolu Kavak, Istanbul

I tend to write more about Turkey than my Life in the Middle East sometimes.  I can't help it - it is part of that "write about what you know" thing, and I love Turkey.  It is a beautiful country with a rich history, so it is hard not to.  On that note, I leave you with a few highlights from a recent visit to Anadolu Kavak in Istanbul.

Anadolu Kavak, Istanbul, Turkey

Anadolu Kavak is the last village on the Northern Anadolu, or Anatolian side of Istanbul, at the entrance of the Black Sea.  This is the Asian side of the city.  In the days of Constantinople, a very large chain was strung across the Bosphorus from Yoros Castle to Rumeli Kavak to control the Strait.  Today Anadolu Kavak is largely known as a fishing village and popular day trip from Istanbul.

Yoros Castle, Anadolu Kavak, Istanbul, Turkey

It is easy to get there by ferry boat, and although crowded on the weekends, it is still recommended.  You can enjoy the day eating fish at one of the local restaurants, walk through the village and visit the local vendors or just people watch as you enjoy a coffee or ice-cream.

Fishermen making their way up the Bosphorus in Istanbul

The fish are plentiful in Anadolu Kavak

A great catch.  A cat stealing from a fisherman of Anadolu Kavak.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Have you ever wanted to travel back in time?  Well, you can - sort of.  Visit the ancient city Ephesus and walk where others have walked thousands of years before - Alexander the Great, St. Paul and many more.  Visiting such places is the closest thing to time travel that I am aware of.

I have been to Ephesus in Turkey a few times, and I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.  It is much more crowded than ever before, so beware, if you want the city to yourself it may be more challenging in the summer.  The good news is that the area is so large, you will still be able to enjoy it.  At it's peak it is believed to have had a population of over 400,000 so there is room for everyone.

Here are a few of my favorites from my visit this summer.

A couple walking through the ruins of Ephesus that are now one with the landscape

There was a time when I dreamed of studying Architecture and Classical Studies.  A sign I would have ended up living in Turkey one way or another.  I can almost see myself sitting on such a mound brushing out artifacts.

I love you Burj Khalifa, but this is one of my all time favorite structures ever.  I will forever wonder how such things were constructed without "modern" tools and technology.

The Celcius Library, Ephesus, Turkey
The detail of the Celcius Library, Ephesus, Turkey

I always say, if the cats of Turkey could talk, they would have the most amazing stories to tell.  This one was obviously wore out.

A cat at Ephesus - tourists were swooning like paparazzi.  He was too tired to bother.

Sadly, I have never hired a guide at Ephesus.  I would suggest it because every single thing means something.  Every picture you see, every Greek word, every sculpture, it is all symbolic.

Temple of Hadrian, Ephesus, Turkey

This is the second time I have seen dust blowing like this at Ephesus.  There is some wind in this part of the country, but I cannot help but wonder if it is some ancient spirit still lingering.

Ephesus, Turkey

If you want to learn more about Ephesus, I suggest . It has some of the most comprehensive information I have seen about the city and its history.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Baklava vs Bugs

I know I promised pictures from Ephesus. I am experimenting with those in a new-ish software, so I want to play a bit first, then will upload.

In the meantime, I leave you with a few funny quotes/anecdotes/randomness from the summer.

A butterfly in my friend's garden

Taxi Drivers

I learned a lot from the taxi drivers of Istanbul.  I improved my Turkish, learned that not everyone thinks politically, learned that a good taxi driver will go out of his way for you, and I learned how to navigate the back roads of Istanbul - so well that sometimes I could get around better than my native husband.

I also learned they are not often afraid to ask questions...

Coming back from the Princess Islands one day we decided to taxi the rest of the way home from the Asian side of the city.  My son fell asleep during the ferryboat ride, so we carried him to the taxi. The first question upon entry, "Is that child yours?"  Kidnapping is no joke, but do we really look like the type that would just pick up a random sleeping child?  I don't think he meant that, but I am not sure what he meant, if anything.

"Boy or girl".  I'll give him this one because my son does have a full head of hair and had not had a haircut for a few weeks.  The best inquiry was yet to come during the long ride to our destination across the Bosphorus.

We were with a good friend who is a cardiac surgeon.  Since we all have a healthcare background, we were talking shop.  Once the taxi driver caught on that he was a surgeon, he asked, "So is smoking bad for you?  I gave up drinking, but I still smoke."  Note, this was not the occasional social smoker.  He smokes.  

The Turkish anti-smoking campaign with pictures of corpses, black lungs and the like on cigarette packs have not given it away just yet.  It seems like a question our friend gets a lot so rather than reacting, he paused for a second and very calmly answered, "It's better if you don't smoke".  

My son, the party boy

While in Bodrum, we were fortunate enough to be there to celebrate a good friend's 40th birthday with her.  It was a great party in the beautiful garden of her summer home.  There were maybe 100 or so people, live music, a DJ, lots and lots of dancing.  Erin did not hold back and much to my and everyone's surprise, danced most of the night.  We left very late and he did not want to go even though it was beyond late.  

As we started to leave he asked, "Mommy, can I have a party like this when I turn five?" 

It left a lasting impression because the next night as we were going to dinner he asked, "Are we going to another party?"

Fortunately, he was accepting of the quieter family dinner.... for now.

Amateur Macro Lens User

That would be me, testing out my new macro lens.  I had these romantic visions of shooting lady bugs and bumblebees in the sunflower fields of Sarkoy.  

Erin and I did go on bug hunts.  He found a praying mantis once - unfortunately no macro on the camera at the time.  Outside of that it was pretty standard: ants and rocks.  

One morning, I came across a small spider hanging from a pomegranate tree in my mother-in-law's garden.  I thought this would be a great way to check out my new lens capabilities.

Apparently, he wanted to give me an extreme close up.  He jumped onto my camera!  I shrieked in a very embarrassing, girly way and moved away very quickly.  Translation: I did that girly bug dance.  "I hate spiders, so why am I trying to take their pictures?"  

I did not seek out any more spiders.  Chasing the above butterfly in a friend's garden was very therapeutic (even without a macro), but in general I just might prefer pictures of homemade baklava over of insects.

After all, wouldn't you rather eat baklava instead of bugs?

Homemade Baklava!!!