Apr 8 - Turkish Cats

Back to Istanbul for the last part of our trip. The last time I was in Turkey had too much drama and heartache--and linking Turkey to new great memories was therapeutic.

The city had aged 8 years since I was here last, but the sights and sounds were strangely familiar. Fishermen lining the bridge across the Bosphorous, simit carts and silly ice cream vendors shouting their sales pitch, the people who are incredibly friendly if you speak a bit of Turkish, and lots of cats running around.

I love the number of stray cats here. I would never want that many stray cats running around my own city, but being a tourist in another city and having a bazillion cats run up to you when you pull out the cat treats is awesome. It's like being a cat god--able to call up an meowling army in a matter of seconds.

We even had our own cat who would sit on the back deck of our apartment sunning himself every day. Sitting at the door, waiting to say "merhaba".

Oh oh oh, and I finally met a Van cat, with its different colour eyes!!

Turkish Van cat on turkish rug


Apr 10 - Touring Istanbul

During our short couple of weeks in Istanbul, it was so lucky our schedules happened to coincide with family and friends. We explored a swath of the city, from the touristy mosques and grand buildings, to colourful busy markets, to places tucked away in small neighbourhoods.

blue mosque ta-da!
topkapi palace gardens
inside hagia sophia
topkapi palace
spice market
blue mosque
water paintings at galata mevlevihanesi
kebapci iskender
ortakoy mosque
northern turkish food at Çiya Sofrası
maiden tower
Çinili Hamam - Üsküdar
sunset near pierre loti


Apr 12 - Eating Istanbul

The food has been absolutely amazing, Turkish food is just so delicious--right after I finish eating, I can't wait until the next meal! Our favourite meals:

Üçüncü Mevkii in Beyoğlu off Istiklal Caddesi, Öğüt Sokak No: 18: We went here a few times. We called it the “elevator” restaurant because they have this little elevator for food to bring it up from the kitchen. Once they realize that you don’t speak Turkish, they’ll take you down to the kitchen where you can see all the food they have. Cute local place. Good prices and lots of vegetarian options.

Aret’in Yeri in Beyoğlu off Istiklal Caddesi, Katip Mustafa Çelebi Mah. Hasnun Galip Sok. No 23 - A little harder to find. It’s on the second floor. Make sure you make reservations a day before (or go early)—it gets busy! We had a tasting menu for $20-$25 a person, and the food was delicious and interesting. Lots of seafood choices.

Saray Muhallebicisi on the main Istiklal Caddesi, İstiklal Cad. No:107 - See all the different desserts. There’s one dessert that I really enjoyed. It looks like a really colourful bowl with lots of different nuts, fruits, pomegranate seeds, syrup, etc. I think they call it fruit salad or something like that.

Best breakfast: “menemen” – egg, tomato, and sweet pepper. I can’t find the name of the place where we had the best menemen—it might be “Istanbul Bufe”. It was in Sultanahmet. I think it’s on Gedik Paşa Caddesi. It’s a street with all outdoor seating. Look for the picture of the egg dish. Also try a typical Turkish breakfast is called “kahvaltı tabağı” if you can find it – veggies, cheese, olives, jams, bread, simit, mmm yum!

Going to Ortaköy, a neighbourhood with a beautiful mosque on the side of the Bosphorous, we found the origin of the delicious iskender kebab Kebapçı İskender—so bad for my health and heart, but so delicious! In Ortaköy you can walk around the little shops and go inside a small but cute mosque. Pray. Then you can go back to the streets and find “kumpir” a stuffed baked potato with lots of options for stuffing.

And the dried fruits and nuts were tasty, we always had some in our bags for hunger emergencies. You can get this cheaper outside the Grand Bazaar in the sketchy side streets. And even cheaper if you take a nice ferry ride to the Asian side of Istanbul (ferry stop: Kadıköy), and walk around the busy market.


ferry, karakoy to kadikoy: 8L
meal for 2:
- aretin yeri: 175L
- mucver lokanta: 30L
- kebapci iskender: 40L
- ciya sofrasi: 67L
- üçüncü mevkii: 40L
dried fruit & nuts:
- mulberry: 40L / kg
- figs: 35L / kg
- pistachio w/ shell: 45 / kg
- pistachio w/o shell: 95 / kg
- natural apricot: 45L / kg
- sundried tomato: 24L / kg
- high end lokum: 44L / kg

Apr 18 - Quick Stop in Ankara

We spent a couple of days in Ankara and checked out Atatürk's tomb, Ankara castle, and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. I just remember the creepily realistic statues in the museum, reminded me of a horror movie about people stuck in a wax if they could only do that with Atatürk--that tomb would be huge!

divan cukurhan
turkish lady on the castle wall
window display
creepy wax statues in anatolian museum
happy sun statue
little tiny stone writing
walking in the market
Anıtkabir - Atatürk Memorial


Apr 22 - No Balloon Ride for You!

We ventured into the centre of Turkey looking for the bizarre and fantastic landscapes of Kapadokya. We stayed in a musty cavey cave house which put us back in touch with our neanderthal roots. We were hoping to go up in the air with a lofty ballon ride, but were grounded in the morning by drizzling rain and fog. Regardless, it was an amazing stop on our trip--what a cool place!

golden cave suites
three sisters
kapadokya rock formations
down the hole
ziggy's in urgup
sunset in goreme
cat at sunset


Apr 26 - Blue Cruise

Although it was early in the season, we decided to be one of the first people in the year to go for a Blue Cruise--a small boat skipping from port to port along the southern Mediterranean coast.

crossing the mountains in a bus
mediterranean beach
blue cruise
view from Simena castle
enjoying the sun
sunset on the water
dinner with alaturka cruises
Anıtkabirbutterfly valley at sunrise
dip in the sea
lycian rock tombs
amyntas rock tomb


Apr 26 - Pamukkale Revisited

I was in Pamukkale the first time I went to Turkey, and it was horrible. There was a trickle of water running down a trough, running past yellowed salt travertines that was much less than impressive. Well, this time, it was like it was a brand new place. Absolutely amazing the transformation and the place is utterly spectacular. It's like walking on a giant melting snow cap on a warm day!

cotton walls
walking pamukkale
sunset on pamukkale
ancient ruins
happy together




see itinerary