Daniela Comes to Istanbul!

The last few weeks, I was  thrown back into a single lifestyle, as Jeremy went on his much anticipated trip back to San Francisco to see friends and of course, to partake in the annual Presidents' Day Pub Crawl. The same day that Jeremy took off for our beloved Bay Area, one of my favorite people from the Bay Area came to visit. Daniela was in Portugal for a conference and took a small detour through Istanbul, before going back to San Francisco. Although D was only in town for two days, we still managed to cover a good chunk of Istanbul on foot, see some spectacular sites, and sample some Turkish culinary treats.
I got to show off my new neighborhood and its proximity to Istanbul's vibrant and tireless nightlife, as we ventured into Tünel for a delicious fish dinner. The cold doesn't seem to deter anyone here and restaurants still seat outside in the dead of winter. It works with the help of heat lamps and our winter coats still wrapped tightly around us.

 The next day, we went to Van Kahvalti for breakfast (can't get enough of the kaymak and honey!!) and headed into Sultanhamet to check out the Hagia Sophia. It is hard to describe how spectacular the vast space of the Hagia Sophia actually is. Its ceiling was once completely covered in mosaics, it seems, and it must have been quite a sight to see. The church turned mosque retains symbols from each religion that worshiped within its walls, boasting a collage of beautiful Arabic script and resplendent Christian mosaics. We poked around in all of the Hagia Sophia's nooks and crannies and even took some time to sketch.  

After visiting the Hagia Sophia, we ducked into a coffee house to take a break from the unexpected cold and took our taste buds on a baklava tour. We picked an assortment of the honey-soaked treats to have with Turkish coffee from the dozens of varieties on display.

Once we had warmed up, we headed to the Spice Bazaar at Eminonu and took time to poke around, practice our haggling skills, and chew the fat with various vendors.


The weekend passed by too quickly as we caught up with a friend from high school on Sunday and then headed to my jewelry class in Sultanhamet. It was great to be able to introduce Daniela to the wonderful people I've met there and my teacher even gave her a Turkish name. Daniela spent a long time talking to the calligraphy teacher and learning about bookbinders in the area, while I worked on the "daisy ring" design. We all came together for the usual mid-class break for tea and homemade börek

When we got home, it was nearly time for D to catch the Havas bus to the airport. I noticed how comfortable and special it was to have been able to spend time with such an old friend-someone who is like a sister to me- and I savored the moment, while also falling into a state of premature melancholy at the idea of her nearing departure. It was great to be able to show Daniela my new city in all its beauty and chaos and at the same time have her bring the warm familiarity of home to this new place that I am still trying on for size.  I eagerly await the next visit!

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