Saturday, October 1, 2011


San Antonio before takeoff
Arrival in Istanbul Ataturk Airport- Nilgun, Nadir and Nadide
We left San Antonio at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning on a Delta flight, spent about four hours at JFK, then boarded a Turkish Airlines' beautiful 747 that took us all the way in to Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.  Turkish Airlines won the #1 favorite airlines of all European airlines this year- for good reason: Amazing food, terrific service and lots of little extras-slipper-socks, eye masks, lip balm, ear plugs, toothbrush and toothpaste, real pillows and blankets, and an in-flight console with an amazing array of movies, games, applications... too much to actually take advantage of, and real headphones vs. those plugs you usually get.  If we weren't at the very back of  the plane I'd have thought we were in first class.
We were met in Istanbul by two of Ugur's four sisters, Nilgun and Nadide, and Nilgun's husband, Nadir. Nadir did some fast, but expert driving through Istanbul, mostly along the shore of the Bosphorus to Ugur's mom's home toward the northern end of it, near Fatih Bridge, or "Second Bridge." The Bosphorus separates the two halves of Istanbul and is the far east edge of Europe and the far west edge of Asia. After looking at so many photos of this beautiful city, it's incredible to finally BE HERE.

Bosphorus Shore and Fatih Bridge

Fruit stand near Mom's house
I leaned out the car window and took this photo just a block from our destination.  

Breakfast on balcony first morning
Every meal has been so beautiful I want to photograph it first, but I'll just post this one of our breakfast on the balcony... it was as scrumptious as it looks.

Nilgun, Nadide, Ugur and I took a bus to Sultan Ahmet Square to see the Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, stopping to have tea at various lovely places along the way. Ugur is doing a terrific job of keeping me in the conversation by translating everything being said. I've been working at learning a little Turkish, but the operating word here is "little."  I hope to know a LOT more by my next trip back.

Blue Mosque - Five out of six minarets

Entrance of Grand Bazaar
Lemonade seller outside Grand Bazaar

Galata Tower - Built 1348

Istanbul University - Established 1453 by Fatih the Conqueror

Rumeli Castle and Fatih Bridge

It rained all yesterday and it allowed me to sleep off much of my jet lag.  After dinner, though, we all had more energy and the rain had stopped, so Nadide and Ugur and I took off for another long walk. We took a taxi for part of our journey and then walked along the shore by Rumelihisari, or Rumeli Castle.  It was built  in 1452 in a surprising three months and allowed Fatih Sultan Mehmet Koprusu to become Fatih the Conqueror by ending the Byzantium era and taking Constantinople to become today's Istanbul.  We got as far on our walk as the Bebek area- Beautiful! Can't wait to go back in the daytime to see more of it.  You're going to laugh, but we sat on the balcony of the Starbucks there in Bebek, and had our limonata and cake and tea, overlooking the beautiful Bosphorus in a perfect cool breeze.  It has to be the best Starbucks location ever. 

Simit: sesame-encrusted circle bread... a new favorite for Susan

Our view from Mom's Balcony

Susan's eating ripe figs from this tree by the balcony...mmmm... 
Bedriye  -   Mom

Bora, Sacide, Bedriye, Nadide, Susan, Ugur
Ugur's sister Nilgun and brother-in-law Nadir and their daughters Neslihan and Aslihan were here for a while, but had to go before this picture was taken. They are returning today. Her eldest sister, Halide and Ugur's niece, Hande, are arriving in a couple of days from Samsun, Ugur's birthplace many hours east of here. Her cousin, Nimet, arrived last night.  It's being a wonderful reunion for their family. Ugur is being "firmly requested" to not let this much time go by before her next visit. 
I've felt warmly welcomed into this sweet, loving family. It feels very, very good.


  1. It sounds and looks like a very beautiful place to visit. You cannot however move there! lol. Enjoy the rest of your stay there, see you soon online? I hope so. Hugs. Barb

  2. Sounds like you and Ugur are having a beautiful time. Literally and figuratively. And what a wonderful homecoming for Ugur!

  3. I am enjoying your postings and your photos very much. This was a great idea to log your adventures and I look forward to the next installment........ :) Enjoy!