Which came first, the Turkey or the egg?

Istanbul skyline

We were told today that according to unconfirmed sources, the bird was named after the country. During the Revolutionary War, Turks came to America to support the fight against the ¬†British, and as a reward, Americans named the big bird eaten at Thanksgiving, Turkey, in honor of the country of the allies. Is that a great story, or is it just “turkey talk”?

We began the day by crossing one of 2 bridges onto the Asia side of Istanbul, which represents my first time on the Asian continent. We visited the atelier of Hikmet Barutcugil a famous painter using the traditional marbeling technique. Hikmet and his staff were very gracious, serving us tea and snacks and allowing each one of us to create our own painting with the help of his staff.

Hikmet Barutcugil creates a marbled painting

The paintings are made with natural pigments and oils by dripping paint onto a tray of water, pushing the paint around with simple tools, and then transferring the paint to a sheet of paper by laying the paper onto the water.

Everyone made marbeled paintings.....

Terry's special technique for making flowers (with lots of assistance from Nur, Hikmet's assistant.)

Upon successful completion of our paintings, we all received certificates, which of course were created on marbeled paper. Brad, who is using his Canon Rebel to create HD video of our experience for a documentary film, is especially pleased to be ‘certified’.

Brad receives his certificate from Hikmet Barutcugil

Lunch was at a seafood restaurant on a cliff overlooking the Bosphorus Strait, and all the fish was freshly caught.

Lunch with many courses....

The only 2 bridges connecting continents (Europe and Asia)

After lunch, some of us took the ferry across the water back to the European side and we walked in the area of the Spice Market, where all kinds of animals, including leeches, are for sale. We visited 2 mosques – these are incredible structures that have amazing tile work inside and large interior domes. In Turkey, visitors are allowed into the mosques even while prayer is in session.

Mosque ceiling

The tomb of Suleiman the Magnificent

In the evening we all attended a dinner reception sponsored by Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board. We listened to 2 informative presentations about the Turkish economy and learned some impressive facts about the country’s status. Dinner consisted of many courses and much conversation. What a great way to end the day!

Abstract Wall, Istanbul

Holy Door

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Topkapi Palace & the Mosque

Kitchen Smokestacks, Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace is a very beautiful place, with lavish grounds on a high hill overlooking the Bosphorus Strait. It consists of many buildings and plentiful grounds, and it was packed with tourists on the day of our visit. This is certainly worth a return visit when the crowds are lighter.

The morning began in the Grand Bazaar where we walked through the alleys as the bazaar was opening for the day. Low crowds made photography easy, as did the ability to work at ISO 800.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Next we headed to the area of the Topkapi Palace, where I photographed the architecture, the seascape and some people.

Ceiling Arches, Topkapi

Window Detail, Topkapi

Dramatic Eyes

We had lunch at Topkapi, and the food continues to be excellent, with many courses served along with extra spices for customizing your seasonings.

Table spices

Appetizers: Stuffed Grape Leaves, Eggplant, Green Beans and Tomato

After lunch we had a quite magical experience in the Sokullu Mehmet Pasa Mosque. This is a small, quiet mosque near the bustling Topkapi palace, and it was cool inside against the warm air, while sunlight and air from the sea filtered through the open windows. To our surprise, the Imam of the mosque sang a beautiful prayer blessing for us – it was a moving experience.

Our group receiving a blessing inside the mosque

After a visit to the Islamic Art Museum to see some incredible ancient Korans, carpets and other antiquities, we drove to the modern part of town and had dinner at the Armagan shop, which specializes in preserving Turkish traditions of hand-made objects. At the special reception held for our group, I also met Arif Asci, one of Turkey’s best-known photographers (www.arifasci.com). He has invited me to his studio, and I hope to visit him later this week. Later I had an interesting conversation with Sumiyo Okumura, a Japanese Art Historian living in Istanbul. The reception was inviting, with a harpist, plenty of food and new Turkish friends to meet.

Mosque and Busses

Harpist, Istanbul

Boats on the Bosphorus

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The Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia Mosque and sailing the Bosphorus Strait

Three Kittens

Today was action-packed, visiting some of the most famous sites in Istanbul. Not mentioned above were the Antiquities Museum which has an incredible collection of sculpture and architectural elements dating from around the 1st century A.D. Then we went to dinner on a 34 meter twin-masted sailing yacht through the Bosphorus Strait. This was simply the highlight of an amazing day, dining on a beautiful evening on the water separating Europe from Asia. Magnificent!

Sailing Yacht

Dinner on the Bosphorus

Headless Statue

Bearded Man

Man with Broken Nose

Ancient Column

Three Domes

Ceiling, Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia Mosque

Turkish Women in White


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Flying from Detroit to Istanbul

The surprise at the Detroit airport was the line of 10 armed guards in the jetway, interrogating and scrutinizing the passengers as they were boarding the plane. I haven’t seen that before, but maybe because we left the day after 9/11.

The flight to Amsterdam was uneventful and so was the connecting flight to Istanbul on KLM, except that we were served food twice on the 3 hour flight. That doesn’t happen any more in the USA.

After checking into the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Istanbul, we had a wonderful dinner and discussion with the other members of the group. Tomorrow is packed with interesting activities, so more photos to follow, but here are a few from today.

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Terry’s Turkey Blog (the country, not the bird)

This all began with a generous offer from the Turkish Cultural Foundation to participate in a cultural exchange tour to Turkey. As I pack and prepare for the trip, I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in this exciting adventure!

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