Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I wish I were a fish on your dish

Turkiye, land of apple tea, nargile (water pipes), rugs and kilims, rooftop terraces, baklava and Turkish delight, fringe and tassels, the "eye"... I couldn't get enough of it, and I still can't. I'd fly back today and stay for another 2 months just to soak in all that this country has to offer. It exceeded all of my expectations and made for a magical traveling session with my girl, Nichole.

We started off in Istanbul, where we spent 4 days. We visited the mosques and palaces, painted in dusty mauve tones and saffron yellows and embellished with beautiful ceramic tiles. We visited the Egyptian Spice Bazaar (multiple times) and became addicted to the dates that a vendor in the back was selling. Our hostel was located in Sultanahmet and was very close to some good shopping. I taught Nic how to bargain like a pro, and we both left Turkey with ikat blankets, silk jackets, jewelry, and some cool bags. The Turkish are very hospitable and well-mannered, and every time we sat down to bargain, we were offered tea - apple, lemon, and orange-flavored or traditional Turkish tea. I joked that I was becoming a tea whore, bargaining just so I could sit down and sip out of tiny glasses while chatting with shop-owners and being shown tassled necklaces, belts, and textiles.

After meeting some amazing Turkish people, 2 of whom drove us through the night to Pamukkale, we headed south. From Pammukale, we took FOUR DIFFERENT BUSES, to Olimpos, a beach cove nestled in a valley. In order to get to the beach, we had to hike through ruins from 161 a.d. It was a pretty incredible and was well-worth the sweaty 15 minutes.

Why was this Turkish man wearing a Native American headdress? I don't know, but I love him for it.

Olimpos is a hippie wonderland. There are only tree houses and bungalows in this little valley, and at night, everyone sits on Turkish couches outside in their hostel "lobbies" to have a drink and smoke some water pipe. This place attracts a very Turkish crowd; there are of course tourists (mostly from the States and Australia), but very few. It's also a hippie hangout, and I loved watches girls and boys in tie-dye, harem pants, and feather accessories. Little jewelry shops popped-up at night, filled with pieces made from sandalwood, coral, leather, feather, bone, and even nuts and seeds. Our days were spent laying on the beach, eating figs and drinking Efes beer, and doing a little miniature cliff-jumping.

More to come on the rest of my trip... xo

Find yourself a new frontier

My current obsessions: all things Turkish, Persian, and Middle Eastern. Paris has surprisingly provided a great window into the Arab world, as it is a city full of expats and immigrants. Throughout the past year, I've become more and more interested in the cultures of North Africa and the Middle East. My recent travels to Turkey (which I will post about soon, I'm sorry I've been a bad blogger!) sort of provided a little stepping stone in the M.E., and my upcoming journey to Lebanon and Jordan should take things to the next level...

On another note, I know that I'm quite late in blogging about the Iranian elections in June, and although, this blog has never been a political one, I would like to encourage everyone to continue to follow the political situation in Iran and to pray for this country! They've been going through a very brutal few months, and after speaking with some Iranian girls here in Paris, I was told that they're very encouraged in knowing that their elections were being publicized and that people all over the world are claiming solidarity with Iranian students and political prisoners. Even though the elections are well over and the media hype may die down, remember Iran and for those of us in democratic countries, be grateful for the freedoms that you have.

Some amazing artwork from Iranian-American artist, Arien Valizadeh. Thanks Mag S'en Fou for blogging about him...