August 18, 2014

Visit to Some Green Space

Lady Hiva and I try to get Tau’aho outside as much as possible. We live in such an urban area that it is hard to do that at times, but at least a few times a day we get him outside to swim, swing or take a walk. He loves being outside and doing any kind of active event.

For the weekend we decided to explore one of the large parks in Istanbul: Emirgan Park. Once in Emirgan it is easy to forget that you are surrounded by millions of your closest neighbors. The tall trees provide shade over picnic tables and lazy walkways. During the springtime Emirgan is a popular place to see the tulips—Turkish tulips are famous. Some even claim that Holland, who are also known for tulips, took their tulips from the Turks.

The best part about Emirgan, at least where Lucky Dragon is concerned, there are several playgrounds. We stopped and explored a few of them and he loved trying all the different activities. It had rained the night before so the soft rubber padding was wet, but the mud and water did not stop him from going from one place to another. He wanted to touch, taste and see everything.

The only activity he still has not grown to like is the slide. He would rather climb up it than slide down it. I find this interesting because he is a true adrenaline junky (like his parents). He loves to ride in his car that his cousins gave to him as fast as possible. He laughs the hardest when the swing is flying high and is always game for wrestling or playing a game of tag around the couch.

Some of his new tricks are: walking (so much easier on the knees), taking caps and lids off everything then putting them back on, sneaking around to touch nightlights or Lady Hiva’s herb garden when he thinks we are not looking, giving dirty looks when he is displeased, and learning to make the noises animals make (so far his favorites are the cow says “moo” and the dragon says “RAWR.”)

We love this little guy so much!

August 09, 2014

Born On The Bosphorus

Lady Hiva and I joined a group of friends for a walking food tour of Istanbul called “Born on the Bosphorus.” It was a wonderful day to be with friends…and we walked nearly 8 miles doing it! (To walk off all those calories we were eating)

The day started down in the Besiktas area where we had some mando kaymak with honey (something Lady Hiva really likes here). It is a creamy cheese made from Water Buffalo milk. The honey makes it a rich breakfast to eat. Usually we eat it with bread. Next we walked to “Breakfast Street” and we ate at one of them.

The breakfast street is lined with cafes specializing in Turkish styled breakfast. We had samples of four different versions of an egg and tomato dish. It was delicious. The guide told us that he was trying to bring us to some of the most popular places for locals.  He would also fill us in on That made it even more fun. We walked through the streets, stopping at fish markets, bakeries and pastry shops as we went.

One of the most interesting things we did were stop by some of the Christian churches around the city and behind tall walls. We would never have known they were there otherwise. One of which was a Greek Orthodox church that was absolutely amazing. From historical gold mosaics on the pillars to stone designs in the walkway. They did not spare any details—including turtles roaming through the area.

We also made it to a few other Mosques too. One of them was really beautiful.

From there, we rode  a water ferry to the Asian side of Istanbul. We started with a walk along the Bosphorus, then ate at a natural honey shop, olive and cheese producer, and then some candy shops. I was so sugared out after I ate a candied pumpkin that takes like a big ball of caramelized brown sugar. After that I just watched them eat.

Fruit all made out of sugar

Then the rain STARTED! It was a downpour! We hid under some store awnings until it stopped. It lasted for quite awhile so the guide filled the extra time with eating a lambs head that had been roasted. The cheeks were alright and the tongue was alright…the brain was SO nasty. It was a grey spongy texture—kind of like mixture of granulated warm Jello and hummus. I tried so long to not gag and had to eat some more cheek to keep it down.

After a short bus ride, we went to a cute village with old traditional homes that once lined the Bosphorus. There were close to 50 people taking their wedding photos next to the beautiful homes. That too was fun to see. We walked up and stopped at a few of the small shops, trying rice, fruit and other local seasonal items. We had some fish stew and some fried anchovies. Better than sheep brains, but not much.

The final stop on the tour was a family’s house were we had a cool milk and fruit dessert. It was so much fun to just sit around their garden and talk.

Overall, my favorite part of the tour was hearing the history of the city and tasting the traditions. However, it would not have been as great had we been with someone other than friends. The tour is new and we enjoyed it.