Every time I visit Istanbul I find many things that have changed. Since my last visit in 2012 it is hard not to notice the obsession with “towers” in all corners of the city. The soaring minarets have been replaced with taller, much taller, but not as graceful towers. There is even one that carries a famous name: The Trump Tower! So much so that I added a new nickname to the city, “The Tower Town.” There are of course areas that remain relatively the same but the fingers pointing to the sky in unexpected places is hard to miss. I have also realized that the general layout of the city is extraordinarily cramped as if a chess board was rearranged by pushing all the pieces closer. The traffic is maddeningly busy and unpredictable with cars jutting from all directions at unexpected moments. Luckily I am not driving and the chauffeur who drives us around is highly experienced.
We arrived in Istanbul earlier than expected due to early departure from Boston. After a welcoming rush hour traffic we arrived at my sister’s house and spent the evening talking and relaxing. The next day we went to a nearby, and well-kept, small town Kuzguncuk to visit the weekly market and have lunch at Ismet Baba restaurant on the water. In the fall the market was much smaller than what we saw in the past but still interesting to visit. In the evening our friend Oya joined us at Yusu Usta’s kebab house, they make really good Adana kebab which I know very well. The dinner was enjoyable and we managed to get some sleep, albeit with some awake times.
The next day we drove to visit my uncle Sureyya at his house in Mecidiyekoy, by this time the traffic was no longer a surprise, busy as usual. After some coffee we all went to a restaurant on the Bosphorus, Deniz Park Aleko’nun Yeri. My uncle is a very spry 88 year old, we had to walk about half a mile and I had to try hard to keep up with him! After a nice lunch we returned home and found my younger sister Zerrin who came from Gelibolu (Gallipoli) to see us. For dinner we went to a nearby kebab house, Bedri Usta. (Did I mention that we ate a lot and ate out a lot!)
On Saturday our friends Mehmet and Isin came for morning coffee and after spending some time with them we went to visit Kadikoy market and had lunch at Ciya restaurant. The vehicular and pedestrian traffic created an illusion of a river of people and vehicles that often mingled. After lunch Ergun bought some fish and we came home. Later in the afternoon Mehmet’s son and grandson came to visit after fighting heavy traffic. The young Mehmet, aka “Memo”, charmed and delighted everyone before leaving with his father and we ended the evening with dinner with Oya.
On Sunday morning we went to Moda Yacht Club to have brunch with Cem and Aytac. The club was quite expansive and the buffet was equally rich. It was enjoyable time for sure and we retired to upstairs for our coffee and enjoyed the quieter room overlooking the sea.
Monday was a (yes, more food) lunch engagement with Ergun’s cousin Nevsal visiting from London for her class reunion. Divan Brasserie was on the top floor of the Koc building overlooking the old Pera district with St. Anthony’s church in clear view from behind the building. Good food, good conversation, parting ways once more.
Tuesday we met our old friends Gunes and Tulay for lunch (of course) at Ismet Baba in Kuzguncuk. It was good to see them after many years and despite some health set backs Gunes looked good so did Tulay. We reminisced about the old days in Adana and bid farewell to both hoping that our roads will cross again sometime.
On Wednesday we met a consultant friend of Ergun at Ismet Baba (where else!) and discussed some matters related to the foundation Binnaz and Ergun are planning to start. That evening we were invited to dinner at Arnavutkoy Balikcisi (fish restaurant) on the Bosphorus by uncle Sureyya and his children and grand children. It was good to see my cousins and their children. We had a very good time and left the place around 11PM. I saw an interesting piece of equipment on the entrance hallway, a self-administered alcohol level measurement, not a bad idea for our US restaurants as well if it is reasonably reliable.
Thursday morning Ergun and I went to the hearing center where he got his hearing aids and discussed the possibility of replacing them, a fine idea indeed as their models are a bit limited. Later that day, Ismail and Leyla came for afternoon coffee, it was good to see them outside Rhode Island. That evening we were at Koco, an old restaurant in Moda with Ersan and Yuksel, more food! But we are eating carefully and drinking in moderation.
Our friend Reha and his wife Duygu had invited us for lunch at their house. We arrived around 1PM and Reha greeted us from their second floor balcony of the 8 story apartment complex. Duygu had prepared very tasty foods and we enjoyed talking about a variety of subjects. After coffee, Binnaz, Ergun, and Jan left and I stayed to work with Reha to install his screen calibration device and show him a few tools that may be helpful in editing his work. He is an accomplished photographer and professor of architectural photography.
This morning I realized that my cold was getting worse and Ergun took me to see their doctor David Cukran, a very nice young man who studied at Cornell and also worked in Texas for ten years. He concurred that the cold was turning into respiratory infection and prescribed a couple of medicines. I will see him in one week.
Tomorrow evening we are flying to Edremit to spend several days in Ayvalik. I will pick up there again. Below are some photographs from our days so far. Although I have tried to select a few from each experience, there is a large number of photographs, mainly family pictures.