From Turkey with Love

Since 16 years I live with one leg in The Netherlands and the other in Turkey.
Not that crazy if you realize I lived there for more than a decade, a quarter of my life, when I returned in 1997 to my first home country.

When I am in either country I miss to be in the other, so yes I do write a lot about Turkey, do road trips or Istanbul strawls whenever I can, and I feel happy to share both my what I call adventures  and the normal day-to-day life anecdotes.
I do intend to finish my book about that same mixed feelings subject, my continues feeling torn and my possible future plans relating my longings to have the best of both worlds.  Maybe to open a little Bed & Breakfast or find my way again as a host and guide for interested visitors. We will see. For now it is story telling time.


Inside Stories – Visiting once more – July 23th 2010

Slowly the squeaking noise of the maxi-cosy is fading, the baby, my sons half-brother, sound asleep now. The nanny stopped moving her feet and gets up to close the balcony door.
The reason must be to prevent the baby from waking up from the loud sounds of the water hoses and crickets outside.
A real pity because I love those familiar sounds ánd the room heats up even more without the little breeze coming from outside..


 Some minutes earlier she had been crouching behind the sofa, together with the baby.
Out of my sight, I could only hear her, and for a little while I thought she was singing a lullaby for the baby to get him to sleep.
Only slowly I understood that she was whispering her prayers, every once in a while directing it towards the baby to comfort him with her voice. In the end she sang him a thank-you for giving her the chance to finish her prayers.

It is two thirty in the afternoon and I am still recovering from my fright due the cup of coffee I just spilled on my keyboard.
That’s a real good start to get some work done in my holidays’, I thought, and the worst possible scenario past my mind as a quick video clip.

This morning we arrived at 04.30 hours on Kayseri Airport and were welcomed by Tahsin Bey with a big smile.
Him being the driver who usually does our transfers, we were chitchatting a bit about the what-a-bouts from everybody and the weather in both countries, before he left us to ourselves during the rest of the ride.
By then all the necessary text messages were already exchanged. The ‘Touchdown’ during the landing of the plane, quite soon followed by a “Hosgeldiniz’. and the We have arrived safely, to the home front.

At our arrival we are being met with great enthusiasm and there are congratulations, exchange of some of the gifts we brought, some glasses with cold Ayran, Turkeys famous yogurt drink, were gulped away and then, after the first updates, off to a couple of hours sleep.

It is our hosts birthday and he and his wife are already since days working there butts off in order to be able to leave for Antalya tomorrow, to meet up with the parents, children and all their grandchildren.
The gathering will be the most important event of the year and taking some days, after which they will continue their vacation direction Bodrum, where they will start their annual ‘Mavi Yol’  a Blue Voyage with a group of friends and their kids along the Mediterranean coast.

The weeks to come I will be living in their house, this period meant to be a mixture of rest and work, visit of some concerts and finalize the preparations for the October retreat for a group I will bring from Holland both for cultural and meditative purposes.

Since the few hours we are here I already got a lot of information on doe’s and don’ts in the house, including the shops I can call for home delivery of gas and water supplies.
Also it is arranged that I can dip in the pool of the neighbors camping site whenever I want and I can use the car if necessary but preferably not, as the driving habits are quite extraordinary. Which I know from experience as I have been one of them myself.
I will take it as it comes. There are 3 dolmuses, mini-busses in an hour, stopping just down the road and taxi’s are cheap.

I notice how not-tired I am from last nights journey.
In spite of the 20 minute delay the regular Turkish Airlines flight has been incredibly comfortable, quite in contrary to charter flights, thus  starting with a relaxed on-line check in. Although I felt embarrassed when this also meant we could pass the whole cue of 50 people waiting to check in and give our luggage to continue to customs.

The airport itself supported us as well in a contest to get us smoothly from one place to another.
Schiphol was very quiet that time of  night and near to deserted on this Thursday evening, sandwiched in between the two most busy weekends of the year.

During the flight, with enough space for our legs and a movie to give my Turkish a wake-up call, we could make a choice between chicken, köfte or a vegetarian meal as a late night supper. And although midnight came and passed during the meal, it tasted great.
The cleaning lady just left, the men, father and son, will go and pay a visit to the barber, the nanny is in the kitchen preparing ‘biberli dolma’ for supper and the baby is sound asleep. I open the balcony doors and prepare myself for a little nap and some daydreaming.

Hoşgeldiniz : Welcome
Bey: Sir
Ayran: Yoghurt drink with water and salt
Köfte: Spicy meatballs
Dolmus: minibus driving on a regular basis through and between towns
Mavi Yol: Blue Voyage with a gullet in this case
Biberli Dolma : Stuffed peppers


early Morning balloon flight



© Carolien Geurtsen

Boil an Egg – Yes I can – Cappadocië

Göreme 06.45 hrs © Carolien Geurtsen

Early morning view on Mount Erciyes, Cappadocie

The house for myself.
The fact that I stayed here before does not guarantee that I can easily find my way around. And certainly not that I can find what I am looking for on the moment I need it. So the find the remote control took a while, let alone the matches to light the stove for some egg boiling.

The family left to the coast. Quit stressed after a short night, a lot of last minute errands, packing end some tasks on the to do list for after returning in two weeks time.
And yes, I threw a glass of water after the car driving away into sunset, this a symbolic act to help their journey go smooth as water flows, like my ex-mother in law used to do in the old days for our travels. Su gibi git! It is another way of waving goodbye and one I do like very much.

In the morning, when there was still some work to do and things to delegate to the team staying behind, I had the pleasure to baby-sit the new-born, or let’s say some months old now, baby and I witnessed his first complete roll over on his tummy.
What an effort that took. I filmed it for both parents to watch later.
Now they had a long journey ahead of them, 6 hours at least, so that sunset bit was not just a fun remark. Partly through the Taurus mountains, and it would not be until after midnight that the phone rang: they arrived safe and sound in Antalya, in the Yayla, of summer/mountain house of the grandparents of my son.

the family on their way




Manager Travelatelier © Carolien Geurtsen

Birthday Child – Manager Travelatelier

The night before we spent celebrating my host’s birthday, together with all the staff from Travelatelier Turkey in Ürgüp, thé specialist for exclusive weddings in Turkey I became soon to understand. The youngest son fell asleep in his pram and after a Champaign toast the wines were chosen and the food ordered.
Soon the subject was the upcoming wedding between an Iraqi woman and a Lebanese man, a marriage which would be impossible in one of either home countries. A real fast organized speed type wedding, only to take place in either Las Vegas or Turkey, all the official paperwork arranged in one day. This being the total opposite of when I got married in Turkey, even with a native citizen it took us months to get all the paperwork done.
What a relief would that have been, being able to do it this way, I could only imagine.

The evening was wonderful, both the food, wines and company excellent, and lots of last-minute advice for the upcoming event. I was impressed that both the owners of the company trusted their team to let everything go smoothly. Trusting their staff and their own meticulous preparations, so was I soon to witness by myself.

Today, welcome to stay in their house as long as they were away, and also thereafter for that matter, would be a rest-day for me.
Watering the plants in the garden and on the balcony terrace, make plans for the days to come, arrange for a proper working Turkish SIM card and choose the store with the best quality yogurt.
Whenever I am in Turkey I really want to stuff my face with only the best, even though most brands are available in Holland as well.

One of my other little sins while I am here is watching all the broadcasts of a serial like the Mentalist,  Brothers and Sisters and anything else I do not find the time or the patience to watch when I am at home. Here I saw HD before anywhere else.

Tomorrow I will leave the house very early, by foot or bike, that is to be seen, to make an appointment for my usual rendezvous with the beauty parlor for a manicure/pedicure and to pass the Travelatelier office to pick up a memory card for my computer and have a coffee or tea on a nice terrace in Ürgüp.
Then I will prepare a personalised meditation CD, send it by email and let the day unfold itself further
Now first boil that egg and eat it with Castle.

Su gibi git!: Safe Journey!
Patron: Boss
Yumurta: Egg
Yayla: Summer House usually in the mountains to escape the heat of the city
Sömine: Chimney
DiziMax: special TV canal for serial TV
Manikur/pedikur: Manicure/pedicure

Pleasure and pain – no empty words – Istanbul

Pleasure and Pain, at the moment it is the translation of the title of my Dutch blog, and this morning it became once more perfectly clear why I choose it. Pleasure and pain, for me the two together define the essence of life as I see it, at least of my life and maybe so in general.

At 6 AM I read an email from best friend U who’s husband is fighting pancreas cancer.
She writes in In German, her mother tongue, so I right away know she must be devastated, as her English is as fluent as mine and we speak mostly either Turkish or English together, hardly ever German.
It reminds me of how I decided all those years ago that I wanted to give birth in my home country, no matter how much at home I felt in Turkey, because I was sure that I would not be able to communicate in anything else than my mother tongue, if at all, when in this painful roller-coaster called giving birth.

It was an extremely short message, full with desperation and fear.
‘ This Thursday he will be operated once more and like last time it is extremely risky. ‘ They found another tumor and I am soo scared. I do not dare to tell it to our [6 year old] son as I am afraid I will be so much in tears that it scares him too much’.
Ending with: Ich drucke dich fest…

When I write this, again my own tears are there in a heartbeat and for the first time in weeks I want to be somewhere else than in beautiful Istanbul. Catch the first plane to Hamburg comes to mind.
I respond to her with a quick e-mail and the offer to Skype whenever she wants.

I hear sounds from the kitchen and all those lovely smells of both coffee and toasted bread make me want to jump out of bed.
I realize the sun is shining and how incredibly lucky I am to be here and I decide to get up as quickly as possible to have a chance to see her, my host, before she goes to work. She being the wife of a friend, and we only just met 3 days ago.

The friend I mainly know from Facebook, although we were more or less in the same peer group when we were young.
Both his brother and the brother from my lover in those days connected us enough to start asking online questions like:
‘Are you who I think you are?’
Him living in Istanbul and our mutual interest in Turkey was enough to keep contact every once in a while online and to make a dinner appointments as soon as was clear that I would come and visit.
And this was only 4 days ago.

IRL [In Real Life – as still supposedly opposite to Online life] I have animated talks both with him and his wife although not with the three of us together as he is seriously ill and stays most of the time in bed.
I love the chances and possibilities life is offering me, in spite of all the challenges coming with it.

No pleasure without pain they say, and how much I wished it wasn’t so, but yes it seems the reality of life, at least as I know it to be.
So much more reason to enjoy the Pleasure part tremendously.

So off into this beautiful sunshine now. Although indeed, my heart cries for my friends at the same time.

Ich drucke euch fest, meine Freunde

lovely breakfast
and yes Thursday I will pray like I have nothing else to do.

This song makes the tears break through like the sun now as well is doing


How safe is Istanbul

On the way to Bakırkoy

On the way to Bakırkoy

– Immensely horrific what happened in Istanbul with Sarai Sierra, the American lady.

When she disappeared and did not show up quickly enough, my heart became heavy of anticipation for a negative outcome. Not so much because it is that unsafe in Istanbul, in general it is quite the opposite, although there is, like in other big cities, the risk to be robbed even by organized mini-gangs, especially in very busy or very poor neighborhoods. And yes, as a tourist, or a touristy type of person, you can absolutely meet little or stronger harassment, intimidation and sometimes worse. And being a woman, especially a woman on her own, there are the gender defined extra risks, apart from the relatively innocent flirting of vendors,  the risk of sexual harassment and worse, is not bound to any city or time.

At the moment I am staying with friends in Tarabya, in Northern-Istanbul and I had an appointment on Sunday to meet up with an old colleague of mine who now lives in Bakırkoy,  so I took the underground from Hacı Osman to Taksim to continue with a bus, but not before having a cappuccino in Café Bookstore Mephisto on Istiklal Avenue.
The guys working there advised me on how to walk to the major bus-stop on Tarlibasi, just 300 meters distance.
As they suggested I took the short-cut and there starts the obviously gender and culture defined difference playing up.
Within exactly one minute I was in a completely different scenery. Is the Istiklal Avenue, a large and lustrous shopping street, the little streets I had to find my way in now, were much more narrow, real back-streets of a poor neighborhood kinda way..

The contrast was immediate and very intense. For Turkish young men not threatening at all but for an elderly absolutely as such recognizable European woman, walking there on her own, a completely different experience.
So yes, I started feeling a little unsure and a little insecure, especially because I could not see through and further, no main road in sight.
Now  I have the luck to speak Turkish fluently and know usually what works best, indeed not only pretend that I belong, but really trying to radiate that in my body-language, indeed with my head up, without at any moment loosing respect for my surroundings and who is in there, sensing where it is better to make eye contact and ask for the right direction in a matter of fact way, or walk on and ignore men standing and sipping tea or sitting and playing backgammon.
So yes I had arrived within the blink of an eye in  Poor but proud Istanbul, at least according to the New York Times in their article about the renovation of Tarlabası
No doubt colored by my anxiety I was a little stubborn and did not wait for the Dolmus or mini-bus mentioned by my friend, which is bringing you faster than the half an hour usual drive (that is if you are lucky) due going a little part of the route on the ring road around Istanbul.
Instead I took the first standard city bus with the right destination on it. Not after checking with the driver though, whether it indeed would bring me to Incirli road, were I wanted to go.

One day later I read two articles worth reading about the murder on Sarai Sierra.
n With your head up high by Frederieke Geerdink, I reckognize a lot of my own experiences although as mentioned I do not always feel safe and sound here and also try to trust my gut-feeling as much as possible in those cases, as in the past my naivety brought me in various dangerous situations.
I had my share of gender defined difficulties and try to stay more tuned with my inner antennas.  Which includes the walking like I belong bit, like the Turkish women do, with my head up. As well trying to get information about neighborhoods upfront, preferably from different sources, as there is a different story from, for example, a Dutch correspondent living here since 5 years, male, and a Turkish modern woman who lives here all her life. Compare notes, and learn, is my device.
But what Alyson Neel is experiencing on a day to day basis, or so it seems, I cannot reckognize in the least.
She feels harassed every single day in Istanbul. I would love to spend one of those days together with her, and again, compare notes in the end, and analyze.
I meet and that is the case for 99,9% of the time, only helpful, friendly people. A barber who I go and ask for directions comes out of his shop to show me on the street where to go. Street vendors go out of there way to point out where the specific corner is where I have to go right. tattood ladies with a fag in there mouth nod when I ask if this is the right way to Tarlabsi. The one exception being one bus-driver yesterday who did not even take the effort to understand what I was asking him. I don’t romanisize but this is my experience so far and not Neels In Istanbul street harrasment is a constant.

KircicegiSo yes, speaking the language is an extreme advantage, but also the combination of  attitude and a healthy portion of common sense all are quite valuable and important, and like in every big city, staying aware of your surroundings.
Even a couple of spoken words, especially the ‘No, thank you’  in combination sometimes with a polite but resolute ‘tesekurler’ when you are invited in a shop, guarantees more personal space than walking along and passing with a stiff face pretending you do not see or hear what is being said to you.
And I can only say: if you have to travel from Taksim, meaning Tarlabasi,  to Bakirkoy, do take the big city bus and let the Dolmus pass, because I old fashionately feared for my life on the way back, as the driver of the mini-van was indeed making a totally irresponsible effort to get there faster than lightning.

So much may be clear,  Sarai Sierra met the worst case scenario and yes it is a tight line of common sense, being well prepared and keep your eyes open.

I got out of the dolmus and walked the last 500 meters to the underground / Metro entrance of Taksim, as the traffic prevented him and us to move, and I continued my way.

© Carolien Geurtsen

Looking around corners – Üsküdar Istanbul


View Üsküdar and Istanbul from Mado terrace

Today plans are not any further than a walk around the corner, as a figure of speech that is, as it actually was the corner of the block, which still is a 10 minutes walk away. But compared to the 3 to 4 hour walk I intended to do, it was not the real thing of course.

The weather was great, dry and sunny, so I wanted to plan my little trip while having a quick tea at Mado’s Café,  which apparently has this tremendous view over the Üsküdar waterway and Istanbul which I wanted to check out.
I only had to pass by the Vodafone shop on the way as my Turkish Sim gave up on me, or, as it turned out, actually my Dutch smart phone, as it was blocked for use with this particular Sim card.
Normally you can use it for a period of 3 weeks, a month, before this action is taken – automated I guess, but as it happened I am one of the ‘unlucky’ ones, so my renewed membership turned useless after only one week. Bummer!
Our Turkish (bought in Turkey) telephone was still at NL home as our son had not been able to spot it in time. Buying a new one was less attractive than trying to borrow one from friends or activate the special travel offer from my Dutch abbo.

So I ended up at Mado’s, on the terrace overlooking the Bosphorus,  with a tea, and informing my friends via their WiFi with various Whatssapp, Facebook and email messages that via my Turkish number I was out of reach.
After that I enjoyed the indeed really amazing view and kept myself amused with shooting endless picture of skylines and roof-scapes, not to forget the seagulls flying into me, or so it seemed at times.

This is when I heard people speaking Dutch at the next table, more actually Flemish (from Belgium), or so I thought.
It turned out that I had the region totally wrong. They come from a much more Mid-Eastern part of the Netherlands called Drente, (so not Belgium at all) with a variety of reasons: one is actually studying here, the other permanently  living in Istanbul, and the brother and friend of the student are here for Holidays.

We got to talk about reading and writing and in the end one of the guys asks me if I maybe would want to proofread their Dutch translation of the book he is writing, because they want to get it right, so we exchange e-mail addresses and I am looking forward to the first chapter indeed.
View form cafe Mado Üsküdar, Istanbul

After taking at least 50 pictures I decide to walk back, as it is already 14.30 and neither time nor energy enough to go for a good stroll.
I enjoy every second of it, especially after I moved to the best spot of the terrace. So yes, yet another place to come back to.

Via the Pilav House and a nice plate of rice with chickpeas and some beef with the inevitable salty yoghurt drink or Ayran, I find my way home, really taking my time and making pictures from the herbal store  Tarihi Üsküdar Baharatçisi and actually right in front of it. I guess I spent another hour there. They answer my question whether they have a Facebook page with an: not yet, but tomorrow we will!
I love it, the new generation will put yet again another 2.0 shop on the map. Then I actually see the big screen, high against the wall, basically not in any direct view. It says:  Welcome in the digital world and I say: then we have a deal*.

*me the nice pictures and them as well via a tag on Facebook.

Down on the corner from CCR – was one of my first albums.
In this yearly top 2000 of December 2012 it found its place on nr 1276 – and I am all too happy it is actually there, as I make an effort to connect the post of the day, its story with a song from this huge list

It’s in Dutch but to get an idea

I can’t seem to get away from you – Istanbul

6 2 12_sm
I like nothing as much as slowly starting to find my way in an unfamiliar environment. To recognize shops, restaurants, street-vendors or even skylines where I have passed by before, gives a great sense of getting used to and gaining more confidence to actually find my way around.
It is not so much about really feeling in control and knowing all details of the place but rather starting to relax that much that I trust I will be okay, ending up sooner or later where I want to be. And so it seems that time is stretching and gives me the space to look around, take photographs and talk with people I meet on the way.

When I was just leaving the Füniküler – an Underground connecting Kabatas, where my Ferry from Üsküdar arrives, with Taksim Square – I realized ‘I was suddenly there’ and for the impatient me I know myself to be, this was quite a revelation.
I got rather philosophical and thought: Time is really passing quickly when you are not waiting, and that struck me all of a sudden as rather comforting an insight.

I know myself as a very impatient person when I have to wait, either to get somewhere or for somebody else to arrive, but it seems that my burn-out really had an unexpected positive side-effect on me: My inner understanding of ‘time’ seems to have changed. Maybe at first only to survive the high stress levels but now seemingly integrating into something new altogether.
Not very practical at times, for sure not if I have an appointment that matters, (and don’t they all), but these days there is hardly an occasion where I ‘wait‘ in the sense of focusing on that what is meant to happen in the near future instead of  ‘spending’ my time with something else while it is passing away. . (are you still with me?).

It also means I can lose track of time very very easily, even if I am actually up and prepared hours before the act of leaving the house for that matter, because I get easily side-tracked. And like the example of this morning in that underground means of transport I will call the F-word, I arrived on my stop all of a sudden and was ever so happy the vehicle wouldn’t go any further.
Because yes, I could easily forget to get out, while watching people, or reading, etcetera.

This Dutch song is rather appropriate: “I can’t seem to get away from this place”, it is called – and so it is with me, already since 5 hours reading and writing and processing pictures, with the regular talk in between with a seat next to the window so direct view on Istiklal Avenue.
I am a happy girl.

More photographs | 



Istanbul Asian side – with Marc Guillet

kadikoy Istanbul


From Üsküdar to Kadiköy

Back now to wandering in a city I don’t know that well in a relaxed state of mind. A perfect example of trusting which some would maybe call dangerously naïve: Yesterday evening, after a meeting with Marc Guillet , I more or less know where the Dolmus (minibus) to Üsküdar will be departing, at least I am told it is, and I ask the last one in a cue in Turkish if it is indeed the right one for Üsküdar. After a yes, I stand in line for 3 minutes and get in the little mini-van without actually looking on the window shield where destinations usually are written. I realise another 3 minutes later that I might as well be on my way to infinity or to the airport but I decide to try my luck, and, that is where the trust comes in, without any tension at all. I prefer to go with the flow, even when it will bring me somewhere else than intended. In that same spirit I decided to get out of the bus when it was not moving either way because of heavy evening traffic and, even though it was dark already, I tried my luck and hoped I wouldn’t have to walk miles to get at my temporarily home.Where this might sound like a perfect sane thing to do for someone familiar in that area, for me, who is not, it is a rather new quality, a zen-like state of mind I really love to experience.

Enjoy Istanbul

Marc Guillet is a freelance correspondent here in Istanbul who decided to take up residence in what he calls the capital of Europe, about 7 years ago. Moving from New York where he worked 7 years for a Dutch newspaper, there was no other chance than to start as a free lancer if he wanted to fulfil his dreams for his near future residence. Finding a place to live in a rather short time, as his furniture was waiting, was a challenge indeed, and together with his wife they decided to go for a house in Kadiköy, on the Asian side of Istanbul. So that is where we decided to meet. He sent me this message on Twitter: Next to the Old pinkish building of the conservatory close tot the harbour, there where the Roma women sell there flowers. Perfectly clear if you know your way around, which I did not, so that really got me curious. Before take-off I let myself be explained whereabouts the Dolmus (mini-bus) would leave for the Kadiköy harbour and off I was. Of course the fact that I do speak the language that helps a lot.

Social Media connects although our Queen thinks differently

We know each other from Twitter, Marc and me. Him tweeting about Turkey and Istanbul, me having a close connection with Turkey – I lived there for more then ten years, so hey, nice to be kept informed. With only a vague Ava (mini-picture on Twitter profile) as a means of recognizing, and although there were tens op people on the meant square, I knew immediately who was who: An apparent European looking man, who was standing there waiting while not-waiting, being busy with his phone. We looked in each others eyes, mentioned each others name at the same moment and simultaneously started laughing, which set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. Apart from writing for several news agencies, Marc is busy with informing people about Istanbul in general, with reviews of restaurants and great places to visit or good walks to walk while you are here.
Enjoy-Istanbul is his website and it breaths his knowledge of history and culture of  Turkey and especially Istanbul, so it was a joy to walk with him through the streets and the Bazar (street market) of the Kadiköy district. Every now and then he was shaking hands, tasting bites or having a quick chat, while at the same time pouring out all those details about our whereabouts. Thé example of a storyteller pur sang. Look up, he said, otherwise you will miss the real history of the place, and of course he was right.

Raki and Red Wine

This was the chance to check with him what information I got so far about the Asian side of Istanbul.
Some members of the Photography Storytelling Workshop from Thatcher Cook I attended last weekend were trying to assure me that ‘the other side’ is by far more religious and traditional in its population mixture and atmosphere and therefore less ‘friendly’ for foreigners to either live or dwell.
No offense of course but I wondered whether they really knew what they were talking about, as they are all ex-pats living on the European side.
Nonsense, Marc cried out loud, absolute nonsense, when i asked him for his oppinion. The CHP is in charge here (the oldest political party of Turkey, the Republican People’s Party, and therefore secular) as you can see here there is alcohol being served in all the restaurants
Which for insiders is an absolute clue, where on the European side in some districts many a restaurant took alcohol off their menu in the last couple of years, with the AKP Prime Minister Erdogan smiling in the background, or at least so is my personal impression..

Atatürk loved his raki

At last, after a lot more of shacking hands and me taking a picture of a lovely photograph from Ataturk, one of the rare ones where he is holding a glass of Raki in his hands, as the current public domain is not too keen on the association, we sit down in a café which is called ‘the Hidden Café’ and order a Red wine and a Raki to continue our talk with.
This pub is a lovely, easy-going place, which according to Marc deserves this name as it is not known in any of the tourist guides, in order to safeguard it for the locals, whether Turkish or Import. I of course wonder if this is really the case as I do not know any business which would not want to have more customers than it has.
The place is maybe a tidbit more cozy as the Mephisto Café where I do my usual writing, and for sure I will return at both places in the coming days. With a: you go right here, all the way down and then to the left, we said goodbye, knowing we would most probably see each other that same night at Bar Montreal near Istiklal Avenue, which I already call Holland House Istanbul.
It is the monthly meeting residence of the many Dutch people who live here. And we would celebrate his birthday that night!

Congratulations Marc.
Great to meet you and let’s keep doing that!
Marc Guillet is @Turkeyreport on Twitter

The beginning of Turkey as we know it – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Hagia Sophia_96_large
Being interested in history in general and in Turkeys history in particular, I have to fully admit that I am still learning and studying on facts and figures from its past.
Being a pacifist myself, or I think I am until proven otherwise, I was ever so surprised by myself not being totally able to condemn the coups which have taken place in Turkeys history.
Coups for various reasons in detail, and with objectives not always that sincere as intended, but that is absolutely not for me to judge.
In my understanding they were to insure that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s main objective, a secular state, with equal rights for men and women, would be adhered to in the future.
I am aware that in any war there are more often than not only losers and no winners and try always and always to see both or sometimes more than the two sides concerned, so when a little movie like this one (aprox 25 minutes) about the funding of the Republic of Turkey passes me by, I am immediately mesmerized.

Having said this, I think there are as many true versions of history in general as people living who can remember the facts concerned, and pictures, books or films surviving the events, because all memories are cluttered with personal looking glasses and unintended and sometimes very intended propaganda.

For me, Turkey seems as far away as ever from a secular democratic state at the moment, but then, I am an outsider now, a visitor, and not really a ‘local’ anymore as I used to be.

But Hey…This is my Church, this is where I heal my hurts and God is the DJ.
Where to have a good dance in Istanbul?

Original version from “Sunday 8PM” album.

This is my church
This is where I heal my hurts
This is my church
This is where I heal my hurts
This is my church
This is where I heal my hurts

It’s a natural grace
Of watching young life shape
It’s in minor keys
Solutions and remedies
Enemies becoming friends
When bitterness ends

This is my church (2x)
This is where I heal my hurts
For tonight

And live at Alexandra Palace

God is a DJ from Faithless – Nr 1911  Top 2000 2012

More pictures on Istanbul

As Wiki as you can get on Turkey

The day our Queen said Goodbye I was, yes, in Istanbul

Istanbul on Flickr

Mephisto_3 Istanbul

I arrive at my current home away from home, at the friends house I am staying with, being welcomed by her telling me that I am just in time for a speech of our Dutch Queen Beatrix who will most probably announce her abdication tonight.
So I immediately open a Dutch radio-station and hear Chi Coltrane in my one ear on my headphone while the sound of the minaret/mosque is entering my other.
Go like Elijah, my dear Bea  I think.
We have a queen like that – loads of Grace in the woman.

© Carolien Geurtsen

Fish delish – Home Made fast food

One hour time difference gives me and F some time to eat and write and I can even play with the pictures I made today in Istanbul.
Exactly one hour later we sit in front of her computer and listen to the Internet-radio, as live TV streaming  is much too slow.
It feels kinda weird, being abroad listening to the so familiar voices of our national (Dutch) radio. We both have to laugh because of this strange situation. We, here in a little home office of my journo friend realizing that at the same time some people or a lot of them have to cry at that very same moment because of the fact itself.

I think she deserves it, enough done but cannot imagine a Queens Day (celebration of her birthday and Big National Event) ever will have that same innocent Orange all over the place feel.  The very unfortunate undertaking of one sick person a couple of years ago changed that already.
I have high expectations of our new Queen, Maxima, the Argentinian wife of the King to come, Willem Alexander. She really rocks but he is, well a little stiff upper lip kind of a person. Although he might proof himself differently once he has the title and role. I guess therefore they have to change it into a Kings Day, which to me really sounds extremely adult-like and odd at the same time.

I am just back from a lovely meeting with a dear old Turkish friend who I used to work with in the Pattara Prince Hotel in Kalkan, on the South coast of Turkey.
How nervous I always am my first days in Istanbul, a little anxious whether I still will be able to find my way around.
It always helps a lot when there are some old or new friends around to anchor with, and get used again to both the ferry’s, the metro, tram-ways, the so called Fünüküler, and to start finding my way by myself.
So after some days getting used to the city and its traffic, I was to my surprise actually very much in time for that appointment, even though I took a lot of pictures on my way there and really took it easy.
Crossing from the Asian to the European side with the Ferry is ever so relaxing and efficient.
Thanks Frederieke for showing me the way!

Chickpeas and Rice_kl © Carolien Geurtsen

Pilav House Üsküdar Fishmarket area

I love to take pics of anything to do with food, its preparation and the people who either make or serve it.
Especially as it is so often beautifully and sometimes very artistic presented here in Turkey.
As well I love to connect with the people through my photography.
I do not like to ‘steal’ pictures and sneak away, if they are anything like aware that I am actually making them, I make contact. Sometimes only a smile is enough to establish a comfortable feeling for both parties. And I do love to give something in return, if only politeness and attention.
So yes, if I have time, I come inside if they ask me to, and if they want me to take a picture of them as well, I do so.
And if, like today in the Pilav House, they ask if I can put the pictures on FaceBook, I say yes and I will and I did.

And last but not least, if I like what I see and I have enough time, I will come back to eat a plate of noughut and pilav (chickpeas and rice), like today in the Pilav House. So it is no empty promises if I say something like that.

in my eyes Mephisto screams of justice

The Mephisto bookstore and Café on Istiklal Caddesi [Avenue]  is gorgious and cosy at the same time, and therefore I loved it that Özlem, my friend, wanted us to meet there. in htis way I could enjoy both the view on this long and huge pedestrian area going down from Taksim Square to Tünel, the passers bye  and the excellent cappuccino, as well as the free WiFi. And as nice as our own meeting was, so was the quick chat with never before met Rosa on the other table, an English woman on her way to Iran, to spend some months there to practice her Farsi, the language she is studying. 

and yes, our queen abdicated just fine.

There is a way to San Jose – Istanbul via Thatcher Cook

You know, sometimes its enough. After so many useful and significant words on a day its great to come home to a surprise dinner being ready, sip a glass of wine, have a great chat and go over your pictures before watching a movie together.
So no extra words to share today.

Really an extra ordinary good master-teacher, that Thatcher Hullerman Cook.

Someone who can make me forget to text my son before he is taking of  to London on the other side of this continent, yes… Chapeaux!
And I am in general not that easily pleased where it is concerning Masters.
But yes Thatcher, I learned so much from you and hope to do so in the future!
Só pleased to meet you!

© Carolien geurtsen




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