The blossoms of Istanbul are just making an appearance, and each sweet fragrance brightens my soul as the rest of me recuperates from back surgery. I’ve decided I’m hyperactive—recumbence has been more than a challenge. I try to recognize my body’s messages, and I mostly listen. We all do the best we can, don’t we?
My first major outing was a little over a week ago (two weeks after surgery) with my canine pal Libby. We trekked along our cobbled street, and before I knew it we were hiking up the next high hill above the Bosphorus. Go figure! I’d often gazed across at the beehives and winding road up to the electric tower, but never really headed up there. It was a slow, yet lovely walk. We watched a woman gather grasses (herbs?) near the beehives, then reveled in the stunning view over the Bosphorus.
and her hillside beehives.
and the view over the Bosphorus
When we finally returned from our hike, I’m not sure which of us was more exhausted; we collapsed happily together onto the couch.
The next morning I walked down to the Bosphorus to meet my young friends Aşkin, Soner, and Ebru for breakfast at the Fincan Kahve. I’ve known Aşkin and Soner since my first year in Istanbul; they were engineering students seeking an opportunity to speak English, and my friend Terri and I were willing “tourists” eager for a Turkish connection. When these handsome young fellows first met us, they didn’t miss a beat. In spite of our age (no spring chickens, we) they were warm, gracious, and ever-attentive. We’ve been friends for five years, and now Soner’s girlfriend Ebru has joined the mix. A medical student, Ebru is always beaming—a delight as she struggles to improve her English.
We lingered over breakfast, then decided to check out Emirgan Park, famous for its spring tulips. It was a bit early (only a few tulips had opened), but we enjoyed a lovely walk through the grounds, as well as a steaming cup of sahlep to warm our bellies. YUM! Love that stuff.
Ebru and Soner
Monday was my first day back to school, and it totally exhausted me. Thank goodness they moved my office and some of my classes down to the main floor; I’d never have managed my usual 300-500 stairs. I slogged through the day, dragged myself home, then collapsed on the couch. Whew! It was pretty much the same routine every day, teach—couch, teach—couch, teach—couch. I felt fine, but I tired so easily! Hmmm…
On Wednesday I took a nap after school, then joined a few friends for a classical concert at Bosphorus University (since it just involved sitting). Well, let me tell you, it was one of the most impressive concerts of my life. Seventeen-year-old Kim Armstrong, a phenomenal pianist (Can you still be a prodigy at 17?) played with the entire Istanbul Symphony Orchestra behind him. I have never experienced such a stirring piano performance in my life, and young Armstrong barely looked at the keyboard. My goodness! I’m honored to have seen him. I know he has videos on YouTube, so if you happen to be in a country where you can get it (not Turkey), check it out.
On Friday I came home at noon for a nap so I’d have the energy to go to the airport and meet my friends Shelley and Donna. I know, I’m pushing it, but heck—Shelly and I have been friends for over 50 years. Big hugs when they finally came through customs, then we hopped into a taxi for a VERY long ride home. Istanbul traffic never ceases to amaze me at its ability to remain endlessly stationary. Sigh…
They settled into my apartment, then we walked downtown for a leisurely dinner at the Abracadabra Restaurant. Delicious! I love that place.
Saturday we lollygagged in my sun-drenched apartment, then hiked up for a tour of the Robert College campus. Afterwards we hopped a bus to Ortaköy, a charming nearby community on the Bosphorus. We visited the Ortaköy Mosque (one of the brightest in Istanbul, glittering with chandeliers).
The beautiful Ortaköy Mosque
This lovely gem from the outside–Ortaköy’s pride.
Afterwards we wandered the streets, indulged in kumpir (baked potatoes with EVERYTHING on top), basked in the sun-drenched deck of a Bosphorus ferry, then finished the afternoon with a Starbuck’s coffee and a delectable fruit-filled waffle. YUM!
Shelley dives into a kumpir–baked potato with all the fixin’s
Neighborhood soccer pros playing on a street near my apartment
I continue to be busy as I recuperate from my surgery, and every day I’m feeling a little better. I can’t wait to see what we explore next weekend. Shelley and Donna are staying in Sultanahmet, and I’ll hook up with them on their turf.
Until then, maybe I’ll just hit the couch…