Chora church

Last stop in istanbul, chora church built during the byzantine empire and turned into a mosque during the ottoman empire. The well-preserved mosaics were beautiful.

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OMG a turkish bath

What do I tell and where do I begin when describing the experience of a Turkish bath, or hamam. I spoke to several locals who actually go to turkish baths and recommend it, enough encouragement for me!

After sorting through luxurious and touristy hamams in sultanahmet, I found a discreet, inexpensive (20USD) hamam on the Asian side of Istanbul, Üsküdar çinili hamam. The hamam has separate entrances and sections for men and women. It was built in 1640, really old and the walls and sinks are made of stone and marble.

An eccentric English-turned middle eastern woman helped me to locate the entrance. I was first guided to a small room where I found an orgy in full swing. No, just kidding, i was led to a room to change and then shown to the inner bath that was circular with small alcoves of sinks surrounding a hexagonal marble platform. Both the scrubbers and bathers were just in underwear, topless.

I kept looking around, trying to figure how the entire operation worked without seeming like a staring pervert. A woman eventually motioned for me to lay down on the marble slab, my turn! In sequence, i received a whole body exfoliating scrub, soap and massage, then rinse. I was able to relax and enjoy the massage but of course how strange to be soaped by another woman after the age of 8.

I would go again, too bad Chicago doesn’t have them…

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Turkish and islamic arts museum

Lots of old stuff.

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Princess Islands

My parents joined me several days ago and we’ve been tromping around istanbul. Yesterday, we took an hour ferry across to princess islands, a scenic set of non-tech villages.

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FMIOTW: black sea salmon

Omg, karadeniz somon was juicy, flavorful and flaky. Why can i not find this fish in Chicago?! I went to a fish market near galata bridge and had the dude fillet the fish. I felt badly leaving the bones and head but trust me, my kitchen can’t handle fish stock from scratch. I made dinner on a portable electric stove.

I bought a spice wheel which is the cliff’s notes of cooking Turkish food; thyme, cumin, mint, chili, salt, pepper. I also bought ground sumac that adds a slight sour to dishes.

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Hagia sofia

Hagia sofia was a church turned mosque and is now a museum. The building has been restored after multiple fires and is impressive if not overwhelming. I rolled my hand around as is tradition in one of the pillars and made a wish!

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Basilica cistern

Water storage underground facility since the early hundreds AD, old enough to have medusa sculptures inside.

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Asian istanbul

Asian istanbul is across the water from old and european parts of the city. It is less crowded and offers a delicious bakery and waterfront cafes.

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Boats cost same as buses!

Using a transportation card similar to the chicago plus card, i can take ferries across the bosphorus around istanbul!

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New studio apt for my parents and i

Loving the privacy of my new studio apartment in Istanbul and looking forward to my parent’s arrival tonight!

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