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This would never fly in the states. I digress. It felt great to be back in a sports on TV culture.

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We didn't even realize it was week 7 in the NFL I've always thought it strange that they pick and choose. Mom and Dad Visit!!!

Kismet 02 - Köfte in Flipflops

Ironically it was half the price for my parents to fly direct to Zurich but connect on the way back from Istanbul - so we made a long weekend out of it! Istanbul is a really amazing city, like no place else I've been. I got a taste a few years ago having been in the Muslim section of Tel Aviv Jaffa - but nothing can quite explain the way Call to Prayer permeates absolutely everything you do in a Muslim city. Not to mention, a skyline not of skyscrapers but of minarets the pointed towers on mosques. You'll see ALOT of mosques in this post We happened to be there during Eid al-Adha, which is the Muslim holiday for Hajj pilgrimage , so many things were closed at random times unexpectedly.

Note to self: remember the culture you're traveling to before you go! Fun fact: Turkish is not related to Arabic at all despite it's proximity. It's actually most closely related to Finnish and Hungarian! Very beautiful! The Blue Mosque official name: Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the quintessential landmark of what you picture when you think of Istanbul. Enormous the largest in Turkey , it was commissioned in to reassert Ottoman dominance after facing a crushing defeat to the Persians. Indeed it is dominant, almost to the point of ridiculousness. I took about pictures of it, which Dad proceeded to make fun of me each time.

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It was really gorgeous at all times of day! My favorite part though was a sign in the courtyard that said Jesus was a Muslim. Topaki Palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans going back to the 's. The grounds are very large and have 4 successive courtyards, with the buildings in corridors along the sides. When someone told me that a major landmark was a giant shallow pool of water a few stories underground I though "meh, I'll skip the sewer, thanks".

It served as the water source for Constantinople. Mom, Dad, and Marc got me to go and I was pleasantly surprised. It was cool in temperature, which was a nice relief , and smelled like the earth. It's hard to explain, I guess it's nickname "the Sunken Palace" is fitting. It was constructed of long wooden docks over a shallow body of water with beautifully lit columns emerging from the water.

At the end were two famous stone Medusa heads - which are a mystery because no one knew where they came from or how they got into this Cistern. The Hagia Sofia is interesting, although in a bit of an unexpected way. It is not an attractive building, in my opinion - but it is a remarkable and unique blend of Muslim and Christian art and architecture. It's incredible to see a huge Arabic calligraphy piece next to a mosaic of Jesus and Mary. When the Muslims took over the property, instead of chipping out the Christian mosaics, they just put plaster on top of them - making them very easily recoverable.

So a few things generally about mosques: 1. Men and women have separate entrances and pray separately.

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This was surprising to me. There are ablution stations, where members wash their hands, feet, and face.

You remove your shoes before entering. Women must have above the elbow and above the knee, as well as the head, covered.

If you've been to the Vatican or to any other classic historic Catholic churches , it's the same. In the really big mosques there are two lines - one for Muslims and one for non-Muslims.


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The insides are stunning. Beautifully ornate carpeting, white and blue mosaics, high vaulted ceilings. The rest of the European side of the city is pretty standard city neighborhoods - each with a bit of a different vibe e. Hipster, Working, Residential. We visited many mosques my favorite was the New Mosque Unfortunately it never occurred to us to look at Muslim Holiday calendar, and we ended up in Istanbul the exact same 4 days as the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, which meant the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market were closed.

There are s of spice shops in the city so I still got what I came for! Another random note - unlike when I was in Jaffa when, at call to prayer, everyone stopped to pray - in Istanbul literally no one seemed to notice it. We asked our AirBnB host and he said Istanbul prides itself on staying secular. I was very much looking forward to the food what else is new , because Turkish food has some resemblance to Lebanese food, of which I've been on a bit of a drought in fondue-and-pork-laden Switzerland. Kofte - duh! This tastes alot like kibbe in Lebanese cuisine. Heavily spiced think cumin, cinnamon, coriander ground meat grilled on skewers.

Eggplant in yogurt - grilled or roasted eggplant in a garlicky yogurt sauce. I could eat this every day.


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Cheese stuffed flat bread - a little old lady sits in front of a large flat heated pan stuffing cheese and potato inside long pieces of flat dough. Borek for breakfast - this is my favorite! Flaky buttery pastry stuffed with spiced ground beef or cheese. Fresh fish : - oh how I crave fish living in landlocked Switzerland.

Nothing like a beautifully grilled whole seabass. The coffee. And at the end you read your grounds to tell your future. The bread! Many restaurants we went to served European-style bread like baguette or foccacia. Our Air BnB guy said it's because in the 's Istanbul's elite saw obtaining Western bread as a sign of wealth. We were sad to not have fresh pita, but did find something similar comes out of the oven giant and full of air and deflates over time - just a little crispier than Lebanese style pita.

Unrelated to food explicitly, but our Food Tour guide said Mom looked like a Turkish mom.

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PDF Kismet – Köfte in Flipflops (German Edition)

This explains why in any restaurant we went she was the first addressed and everyone called her "mami". This was pleasantly surprising to me as I assumed they would only address my dad. So after our Rome food tour and as we all know about Italians , we thought they ate alot - the Istanbul food tour put Rome to shame! We started on the European side then got on a ferry and crossed the Bosporus to the Asian side. Much to my mother's disappointment, it was not full of Asian people; and to Marc's disappointment, no cheap Chinese food; just more Turks ;.