Istanbul 2017

This is the first post in over a week. I apologize for that. The reason is that Simay and I went to Istanbul for a week, and I went full vacation-mode while in Turkey. I was supposed to write something on Saturday, but my appetite for Turkish food is bigger than what my stomach could handle this time, but I’ll get back to the food later.

After one trimester at ESSEC it was finally time to go back to Istanbul. Simay was in Istanbul a month ago, but I hadn’t been there since July last year. I was looking forward to the warm weather, relaxing by the sea, meeting everyone in Istanbul again, and the delicious food. Unfortunately, the weather Gods decided to somehow make Istanbul colder than Paris, so that little tan and coast chilling I was looking forward to have to wait a few more months.
But it was still very good to be back, in a city that has become something like a third home for me over the last couple of years.

The welcoming committee 

Here with the driver included
We got to see little Ekin again, who already speaks more Turkish than me.

This was a special trip for a reason. My parents were coming to Istanbul for the first time, and more importantly; they were going to meet Simay’s mom, Zahide, for the first time. They have been following each other on Facebook and Instagram, but as they do not speak the same language they have never talked to each other more than “likes” or short comments on pictures. Simay and I have been together for over 2 years now, and it was the perfect time for our parents to finally meet. Although I was sure that they would all get along there was still some uncertainty that kept lurking in the back of one’s mind. Luckily they "clicked" from the first hug. Simay did a tremendous job the 3 days my parents were there, starting from Thursday evening with translating and explaining everything from one side of the table to the other, all the way through Saturday when she showed my parents around some of the historical parts of Istanbul.
My parents have heard a lot about Istanbul from me, and they have read article upon article, seen multiple documentaries about Istanbul and Turkey. My mom also read Orhan Pamuk’s book, Istanbul, which made her even more curious about the city. Although Simay keeps repeating the phrase “I haven’t been here since middle school”, she’s still able to give an amazing tour by giving short and sufficient information about the places we’re seeing, mixed with the same sense of amazement that we felt when we saw these remarkable monuments.

On Friday we took the ferry from Kadiköy in Asia to Besiktas in Europe. Although we were on our way to the Dolmabahce Palace, which worked as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 and it was here Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, took his final breath, I was able to convince the other three that we should stop by Vodafone Arena and the Besiktas JK museum. The museum was amazing, filled with the history of the club, which also worked as a great way to understand how the Turkish society worked back in the days. For instance with the fact that the first football players to play for BJK were arrested by the police for playing football but was later released once they were able to convince the police officers that they had only been doing gymnastics. It was truly an amazing museum, with a bunch of trophies that the club has collected over the years. It also included a couple of Olympic medals that the BJK athletes have won. One thing I really liked about the museum, in addition to the virtual reality tour of the stadium, was the fact that it was facilitated for blind fans as well. Some of the trophies where replicated outside of the glass box so that blind people could feel what the trophy looked like.
After the BJK museum we crossed the street to finally enter the Dolmabahce Palace, and what a palace it was. I have to admit that some of the rooms looked like the architect thought: “Well, it’s only going to be paintings here anyways…”, but the rooms that they had spent time on where truly astonishing. With gold everywhere and chandeliers filled with crystals hanging from the roof, it was simply a magical place to be.

Another one coming at the end of the season, hopefully. 

I would love to tell you more about what we did Saturday, but Friday night my stomach let me know that the incredible dinner we just had a couple of hours ago was more than it could handle. I love Turkish food, and usually it’s not a problem as long as I take my travelling pills, but when you’re a lazy student who thinks that everything is ok with the pills you have, and forget to check the expiration date before it’s too late, your stomach becomes more an enemy than a friend. Without going into more detail let me just say that my parents were very happy that Simay was willing to show them around that day. They were able to see the Galata Tower, the Grand Bazar, the Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia. They bought a lot of tea and was even able to secure a set of true Turkish teacups, with some haggling from the Turkish part of the trio.

It was truly a great week, and a week I will remember for a long time. Now I’m back in Paris while Simay will stay in Istanbul until the end of next week. The blog break is also over, so make sure to check back in on Saturday, where I will write about the most magical time of the year from my point of view.


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