Turkish Delight

By | July 15, 2012

Hubs and I just returned from a truly incredible vacation visiting Istanbul, Mykonos, and Santorini (3 cities that were high on our “really want to travel to” bucket list). I don’t have enough hyperbolic adjectives in my vocabulary to describe how completely and totally amazing this trip was. But I’ll do what I can. Right now my body is in NYC, my circadian rhythm is stuck somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, and my mind is still lounging on the beach. Given that, this post may come out a little wonky. (You’ve been warned.) Here are a few recapped snippets of our trip- a couple of favorite experiences and favorite photos… starting with Turkey:

About 24 hours before our flight to Istanbul was scheduled to take off, I got a crazy text message from Swiss Air, matter-of-factly stating that our flight has been cancelled. Yes, a TEXT MESSAGE! SERIOUSLY, WHO DOES THAT???? After an hour of going positively apeshit with their customer service reps, I was placed on a similarly timed partner airline (Lufthansa) flight and resumed breathing. Two lessons learned here: 1) Swiss Air is never to be trusted again. 2) The life-saving powers of the Mockingjay are apparently limitless.

Istanbul is a wild mash-up of old and new- ancient mosques and humongous bazaars alongside new luxury hotels and swank cocktail bars. I loved it. Our first day’s meanderings brought us to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, where we were accosted by vendors thrusting samples of nuts and Turkish Delight at us (okay, if you insist!) Very overwhelming for a jetlagged lady, but very, very cool. We may or may not have purchased enough baklava and Turkish Delight to keep us on a sugar high all week. (It’s ok if it’s on vacation, right?)

Wall to wall Turkish Delight

Umm, seriously?

Our first Turkish dinner was actually one of our favorite meals of the whole trip. We went to this adorable place, Meze, and (appropriately) stuffed our faces with a slew of different types of cold meze plates. The 3 pictured below (peppers, mushrooms, stuffed eggplant) were the first to arrive- and then (oops) we promptly forgot that the camera existed and just chowed down as the other dishes were served. One that I wished we had snapped a photo of was the red pepper/tahini/honey/walnut salad that was out of this world.

Then this dessert happened. Banana, cream, almonds, walnuts, honey, and chile. GLORIOUS. We were so tired from travel that all we could do was look at each other and giggle at how good it was.

Cool thing about Istanbul #348: It spans both Europe and Asia. We took what is essentially the Staten Island Ferry for a ride across the Bosporus, and 20 minutes later arrived on a different continent. It made me feel like that scene from Robin Hood Men in Tights. (“I’m on the east bank. I’m on the west bank.”) Kind of.

Istanbul is also home to some ancient and gorgeous mosques. We visited a number of them (being sure to dress appropriately and cover our legs and shoulders), and were mesmerized by the intricate tile work covering the walls and ceilings.

Interior of the New Mosque (Yeni Cami)

Interior of the Blue Mosque (built 1609-1616)

There were countless other favorite experiences, such as: drinking Turkish beer on a rooftop bar overlooking the Bosphorus…

Realizing that Starbucks locations worldwide are consistently good for one critical purpose: going to the bathroom…

Visiting Topkapi Palace…

…and dozens of others (like haggling for silk rugs in the Grand Bazaar, watching the Euro Cup finals with a bar full of screaming Europeans, and becoming addicted to Turkish coffee and Turkish Delight, to name a few). The beginning of our Eurotrip was supercalifrajalisticexpialidociously great (making good on my hyperbole promise), and leaving Istanbul was bittersweet. While there was SO much more to see and do in the city (really, 3 days lets you just skim the surface), Greece was awaiting our arrival. Who could be sad about that?

Get excited for the Greece recap to follow.

What was your favorite vacation? What places are on your “really want to go there” bucket list?