Our new camera has the best and easiest panoramic feature I’ve ever seen. Click, rotate camera slowly, then voila! The camera does all the matching up images work for you.
It was a bit odd celebrating Christmas in a non-Christian country this year. For example; Christmas decorations are sold in most grocery store yet wrapping paper does not exist.
We parked by the water on the Asian side of Istanbul, went on a big walk under the warm sun then retreated to the van for some holiday celebrations.
I played Christmas songs while cooking. I love Christmas songs.
My poor mini Christmas tree dried out.
Holiday vodka shots.
Below, Polish beets in a horseradish sauce and Chinese chicken with green beans (a salute to A Christmas Story and the “Asian” Istanbul.
She’s going to love it here, Istanbul has everything.
Remind you of someone?
We were lucky because man snuck us in while prayer was in session, a time when the mosque is closed to the public.
Only men can pray in this large room.
Women must pray at the back of the mosque behind wooden gates.
Traditionally trolls live under bridges and overpasses but in Istanbul the space is used for bicycle shops.
Mosques in Turkey are like Starbucks in Canada, one on every corner.
2 Polish chicks checking out the cat…and Arek.
This is my favorite cat picture. This lovely man stretched for me outside of a shop in Istanbul.
I guess the van looks interesting to others because everyone wanted to talk to us.
No one was able to figure out which language this guy was speaking but that didn’t stop him for one second.
The local ladies where so excited to meet us that after their tour of the van they invited us for tea!
Let me tell you some bazaar information;
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. Here you can buy carpets, lamps, pottery, jewelry, clothing and accessories. The bazaar is very clean, orderly and rather expensive.
Outside of the Grand Bazaar you will find the open air market called Uzunçarşı Caddesi. Numerous steep and narrow streets (believe me, we drove through it with the huge van and it was nerve racking) selling everything from zippers to flowers to computer parts. The market basically links the Grand bazaar and the Egyptian Market.
The Egyptian Market is Istanbul’s spice market. The shop owners are really friendly and let you try all kinds of treats.
This year we had to break a very dear tradition of mine and skip the champagne portion of Christmas Eve. Turkey, especially Istanbul, is surprisingly VERY expensive compared to the rest of Europe and doesn’t cater to non-Muslim alcoholics like ourselves. Regardless, I disguised our cheap appetizers with a holiday theme:
-Dill wreathe with pickles and olives, the holly and berries are made out of fresh tarragon and chili peppers.
-Moroccan olive penguins with cheese bellies, green onion scarves and carrot feet and beaks.
-Quail eggs on toasted bread with spicy tomato caviar.
The caviar was fun to make. I filled a tall glass with oil and put it in freezer for 20 minutes. In the mean time, I reduced tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, parsley, tarragon, hot peppers, salt and water until I had about 1 liter of intense liquid. I strained it twice, brought it to a boil and added a pack of gelatin. A syringe would have been useful at this point but alas, I live in a freaking car so I winged it and used a spoon to drip droplets of my tomato mix into the cold oil then DELICATELY scooped them out and transferred them into a bowl of cold water. The caviar looked great in real life and tasted explosive in your mouth.
Local treats. They all tasted the same.
We’re parked outside a cool cat café. The owners even let us plug the van in!
In Europe, you get assigned seating in the movie theater. The movies are usually in English with subtitles in the country’s language. I love choosing my seat because I can arrive at the last moment and not worry about where to sit.
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