I am a small town coastal girl, a Mangalorean, who loves sunshine & sandy beaches. As a child, going to the beach with my cousins, rolling in the sand and getting drenched in salty sea water week after week were my favorite things to do.
But over the years, my idea of a vacation has changed completely. I have slowly started to realize that there's much more to see and experience in this world than relax by the beach for an entire week, watching the sun set or sipping Mojitos.
So the three important things that I now consider while planning my vacation are food, fashion and history, as these are an integral part of any good vacation. Even if I get to experience two out of the three, I am a happy camper!!
Being avid travelers, it was hard for Vandana and me to choose a country that had good food, fashion, and history as well. After much brainstorming, TURKEY it was: the only place where one gets to see the best of Europe and Asia.
The idea of inhaling the aroma of rich Turkish coffee, savoring honey dipped Baklava, getting pampered at a traditional Turkish bath, and shopping and haggling at the Grand Bazaar excited as immensely, as did walking among the ruins of Troy and Ephesus, and experiencing the charms of Istanbul and "the cotton castles" of Pammukale. So we gave TURKEY the green signal and anxiously waited for the day to arrive.
A SIP OR TWO:
I think I had more fun, compiling and editing the pictures for "Part2" than"Part1" as it involved my favorite topic, FOOD. Looking at these pictures, one can easily figure out that the way to my heart is definitely through my stomach!!
In the daytime, hot tea is popular and is served strong and black in tulip shaped glasses. It didn't take me much time to realize that the Turks hardly drink any water, as it was a common sight to see people enjoying their black tea served in those beautiful clear glasses all day long.
In the evening, or after a meal, Turks prefer to drink strong black coffee that is served in small cups. Mostly served with dessert, this slightly bitter coffee reminded me of the Espresso we get back home.
The coffee goes really well with the Turkish sesame covered Pretzels called "SIMIT"
Mmmm, this was one drink that both Vandana and I enjoyed thoroughly: a refreshing concoction of freshly squeezed pomegranate and orange. They don't use water in this, so it was quite safe to drink this juice. One fruit that we got to see almost everywhere in Turkey were Pomogranates.
The juice machine looked simple & interesting. Vandana loved it so much, that she wanted to bring one back home!!
Nuts, Nuts and more nuts everywhere—stuffed, glazed, and caramelized!!
The Phyllo based pastries were stuffed with pistachios, walnuts and other nuts & fruits. Dripping honey and sugar, the baklava contained layers of dough and nuts. I preferred the Kuru baklava to the Yer as it was less sweet and was drier.
WARPS & WEFTS:
"Kilim" means "Flat woven", they are rugs without knots and the most famous kind of Turkish rugs which are hand woven and naturally dyed. These rugs are woven by nomads, mostly at home. The designs are original and depends on the weavers imagination. The designs are then passed on from mother to daughter. They are from the central region of Turkey, Anatolia, villages of Kayseri.
Sheep's wool is mainly used in the Kilims, but these days silk blends are are also used.
It's believed that the expression "Tying the knot" was originated from rug weaving. The loose ends of the rug were knotted when the girl was ready to get married, that was her way of telling the world that she was ready for marriage!
A Turkish lady weaving a rug.
An array of colorful Kilims.
HAREMS & HAMMAMS:
The master builder Mimar Sinan was the royal architect of many Ottoman Sultans. He designed the royal kitchens of the Topkapi palace, the minarets of Hagia Sophia and the hammam of queen Roxelana. The architecture of many commercial hammams that you get to visit in Istanbul resembles the one built by Sinan in the 15th century.
A hammam consists of three interconnecting rooms. The first one is the hot room with a large dome punctuated with small windows. You lie on the heated marble stone that's in the center of the room. You will then be scrubbed, foamed and massaged by an experienced masseuse. The not-so-hot second room is where bathers wash. The final chamber is cool, a place to relax and enjoy a cold drink. When you are in Turkey, don't miss out on this one of a kind hammam experience. I experienced the Turkish bath twice during my stay, and it is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
The room is entirely marbled, equipped with individual water sinks and white silver bowls for bathing.
The ceiling dome with small holes on them, to allow natural lights to stream in.
A TALE OF 2 CITIES:
The town of Pamukkale is situated at the base of the travertine cliffs which have become one of Turkey's top sites. They are also known as the “cotton castles”, due to the snow-white travertine cliffs all over, formed by calcium carbonate deposits.
Ephesus is the most famous ancient city in Turkey. It was founded around 1000 B.C. Under Roman rule, glorious buildings such as the Library of Celsus were constructed.
Its perfectly preserved temples, merchant houses and theaters are breathtaking.
Here's to our friendship and more exciting trips in the future!!