Day Eleven: Hosçakal Istanbul

We spent our last day in the country perfectly. No more museums. No shopping. No guide book.

Instead, we hopped on the ferry to Kadakoy and then took the Metro to our friend Elaine’s house. She made us a gorgeous brunch and gave us laughs and insights galore. Spending time in conversation, remembering why we love her so, watching our friends absorb her magic, well,

it was the best possible way to ease into a return home.

This woman was embroidering these little purses. We took a few off her hands.
The Galata Tower from the ferry boat. We are in between Europe and Asia here.
Elaine lives in Atesehir, which is Turkey’s version of Yuppyville. This building is part of the complex where she lives.
During a tour of her apartment, Elaine shows gives us her best PRICE IS RIGHT model stance with regards to the top piece of a Turkish tea pot. We guessed that it was worth ten lira and HAD THE BID CLOSEST TO THE ACTUAL PRICE!
Elaine’s daughter, Selin, is a big help with raising younger brother, John, particularly because the school where Elaine teaches is a fair distance away from where they live and the kids’ schools. Selin has a daily To Do list, in addition to getting her brother up, dressed, fed, and to school. When John had a fever and ear infection last week, Selin picked him up from school, took him to the doctor, took him to the pharmacist to get his prescriptions filled, and then took him home. She’s ELEVEN.
It seems only fair that Elaine had no objection when Selin expressed delight over a particular toilet seat and cover when they were moving house. What the heck does it matter, Elaine figured. Indeed.
This little pixie with moxie was instrumental to the success of our year in Turkey. Therefore, I did not eat her even though I was very hungry when this picture was taken.
We brought Selin a copy of Allegra’s magazine!
After brunch and chat, we took a taxi to a restaurant called Balkon (balcony). Balkon thinks it’s the Louvre. Turkish style.
We met up with Elaine’s new beau and his friend at Balkon, too, although I have opted not to include their picture here, for Elaine, thrice-married to Turkish men, does have a gift for moving on. Anyhow, despite the overloud dance music interferring with attempts at conversation, we all were impressed with each other. Perhaps delicate political negotiations would do well to crank some Rihanna.
No, really. The place was hilarious.
Selin likes Uncle Byron’s Statement Hair. Turns out her purple watch matches the remnant purple he had dyed in a few months ago. By the end of the afternoon, Elaine had braided the beard. Now we need an Evil Eye bead to attach to the end of it.
Avaricious seagulls made the ferry ride back to Sultanahmet quite picturesque. Then someone tossed them a hunk of bread that whipped back through the wind and whacked my cheek. I is paralyzed.
The birds. Oh, THE BIRDS!

And, thus, the sun set on our visit to this amazing country, crossroads of East and West.

Our shuttle comes at 3:45 a.m. to get us to the airport. Then we spend a few hours flying to Paris; after a quick layover there (can we say “macarons”?), we spend another eight hours getting over the ocean to a stop in Detroit. More layover and then on to Minneapolis. If we have it in us, Byron and I will then drive up to Duluth so as to be home when the kids get up Tuesday morning. By that point, we’ll be so rank they’ll dodge our hugs.

Fueling our engines the entire way will be memories of friends and food and culture, all highlighted in this video in which Elaine explains a Turkish breakfast in two languages:

If you care to share, click a square:



By Jocelyn

There's this game put out by the American Girl company called "300 Wishes"--I really like playing it because then I get to marvel, "Wow, it's like I'm a real live American girl who has 300 wishes, and that doesn't suck, especially compared to being a dead one with none."


  1. Eleven years old! Wow…I don’t know that I was that responsible raising my own children. And I was substantially older than eleven, I assure you.
    What a magical place, this Turkey. I remember that you had not even planned on Turkey for your sabbatical, and now just think of how it has changed your lives, and that of your friends.
    Life-it be strange sometimes.
    Travel safe.

  2. you know, i have already eaten breakfast and yet i find myself hungry all over again…safe travels though by the time i am reading this you should be back in duluth…so allow me to amend to happy napping and bathing….

  3. I just found your old blog last week and moved over to this one today, so you are home in Duluth now! Welcome back to the U.S. just in time for the election. I will be going back to read more of your blog. Very interesting and fun. I live in Michigan and I’ve been to Europe once for two weeks…can’t imagine doing what you and your family did. I admire you.

  4. Wow, Selin is impressive!

    I like the toilet seat. As much as a man can like purple, I mean. It seems that it would be very conducive while also not easily showing dirt. Win-win.

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