Day One: Istanbul

After an easy flight to NYC, followed by a long-but-okay (despite the screening of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL, which seemed to last forever) flight to Istanbul,

we’re here.

I actually, so far, don’t feel one way or another about being back. Another way to put this is that it feels like we never left. And when you’re in a place you never left, well, that just feels like home.

Yet, hmmmm, it does feel like we’ve traveled and are doing “a thing,” so I guess the upshot is that I don’t know how I feel. Since I’ve had 3 hours of sleep in the last two days, the first order of business is to get some sleep. I’m pretty sure rest = normal emotional functioning.

I shall be pictoral, therefore, but word-brief.

I mean, you know, word-brief for me.

Here’s an overview of our first day in Istanbul:


The bed in our Istanbul hotel, a city that takes its sights and sounds very seriously. And loudly.
Wouldn’t The Blue Mosque make a delicious birthday cake?
This is what Turkey looks like if you’re not in a tourist area or buying a ticket at a museum.
Here’s where men perform their ablutions before going into the mosque to pray (photo taken at the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha mosque).
Virginia and Kirsten wrap up before entering the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha mosque, a place full of life and young boys at the madressa/ school.
Virginia and Kirsten prove they are even bigger hams than schoolboys at a madressa. Wait: can Islamic schoolboys be hams? I know they can’t eat ’em.
Abluters doing their abluting.
At The Blue Mosque, the worker ladies maintain a protective barrier between tourists and those praying. Interestingly, these women are not allowed to pray in this area.
When albuters are done abluting, this is what they do. I continue to find myself transfixed by the postures.
When Byron told this guy “NO” twenty times, he got aggressive and took some polish on his fingers and rubbed it all over one of Byron’s shoes anyhow, pitching himself onto his stool in the street and grabbing Byron’s foot. Giving in, Byron let it happen. We all joked around. At the end, the guy said “100 lira” (about 70 USD). Words ensued, even after “the price” dropped to 35 lira (22 USD). I finally had to leave because I was so OVER the attempts to embarrass into paying huge money for a service we never wanted. Ready to shout the guy down, I excused myself and let the nice people left behind decide to give him 10 lira. In other news, I hear this kind of stuff is even worse in Egypt.
Ah, the ultimate mood restorer: finding the ever-elusive Actual Good Cup of Turkish Coffee. It was fabulous, as was the rosewater lokum on the side.
I got that amazing cup of Turkish coffee at The Museum of Islamic Art, which is housed in a former sultan’s palace. In one grand room, huge rugs covered all the walls. No flash photography was allowed, but let’s pretend all sultan’s palaces are naturally blurry.
Two of my favorite rugs in the museum.
A turban ornament. Note to self: get turban.
A former sultan’s turban topper. When I looked at this thing and realized I not only could have been wearing a turban all these years…but that I could have been topping it with loony accessories, I started to think I’ve been missing out on a lot of opportunities to have fun.
Then I went outside and breathed in the cool air and wondered why they ever started calling that thing The Blue Mosque.
Then I walked down the stairs to the ethnographic museum and remembered that I’m pretty much having fun all the time, so long as there are no shoe shiners around. I’m especially having fun when I get to see indigenous homes. I mean, JEEHOSEPHAT: that’s the roof of a yurt there. With a blurry Virginia right by it!
Just as awesome was an actual full yurt. WITH A BLURRY BYRON RIGHT BY IT!
After going around the corner, I met a new friend, Hanife. Quiet girl, but very diligent about her hand-dyeing. Her kilims kick ass, people.
Virginia took one look at the display of hamam-wear and noted, “That girl’s a walking advertisement for Bed, Bath, and Beyond.”


You know what I’m going to do now?




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. We didn’t have any problems with overly aggressive shoe-shiners in Cairo. Most of the gee-gaw hawkers at the tourist sites left you alone after 1 or 2 nos. One thing – if you take anyone’s picture, they expect to get paid. – but a couple of pounds (@50 cents when we were there last year) took care of it.

  2. Keep enjoying yourself, Lovey.- an “Crew.”
    Wish I had been the one to embroider the table runner used as a shawl in the last picture. So nice.
    If Byron wore sandals, perhaps he could forego shoeshine aggressors…..

  3. You took a picture of hand-dyed yarn, you stealth yarn photographer, you — that clothesline full of skeins dyed with natural dyes could be pictured on many a knitter’s blog.

    1. One more day in Istanbul; then we fly to Kayseri (Cappadocia) on Saturday morning and have three days staying in the cave home of a friend in our former village of Ortahisar.

      Btw, guess who slept for four hours and is now awake again, feeling strung out?

      This is a very difficult quiz, so don’t feel bad if you didn’t guess it right. The correct answer is “Jocelyn.”

  4. Mmmmm, yarn. And yurts, too! I’m a knitter, not a weaver, but those were some yummy colors, and that museum/mosque/everything looks so marvelous! Hope you’re having a fabulous time, despite the lack of sleep. I imagine you will start to feel like you’re caught up the day before you leave and have to change time zones again.

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