I thought I’d take advantage of the holiday break to post another blog, this one about some of the things that Dale and I have been up to over the past few weeks, and a few reflections (teachers love reflecting). We have been in Istanbul about 4.5 months now, and our first arrival in the sultry days of mid-August seems a distant memory. We feel quite settled now, and have explored both the European and Asian sides of the city. We have travelled in buses, trams, metro, taxis, and dolmus. We have learned some Turkish (but, my goodness, we have a lot to learn). We have experienced some of the huge variety of Turkish food. We enjoy the kindness of Istanbullus, and both of us have become deeply involved in the school, and Dale with community projects, including those for Refugees of whom there are now 2 million in Turkey fleeing the war in neighbouring Syria. At the same time, we feel that there is so much more to learn about Turkey, good thing we have another 1.5 years here!
So what have we been up to recently? Well, we have a cat now, Inci (which means “pearl” in Turkish). She was one of the many cats on campus, found by one of the teachers in a very bad state: parasites, fungal infection, fleas … she spent three weeks at the vet’s, and then came to live with us. She is very curious, extremely playful, but also very affectionate, and we have really enjoyed having her. Here she is in two modes: relaxed, and Christmas-tree-attack:
It’s been fun exploring our local area. We live in the village of Arnavutkoy, which has lovely shops and a great market on Tuesdays. I have got to know some of the market vendors, and one fellow Ishmael in particular. Ishmael is a fruit vendor, and he always gives something extra, like a pomegranate. The next village/city north along the Bosphorus is Bebek, and it’s a nice 15-20 minute walk along the water from our place. There is a great park there on the water, and some nice cafes and ice-cream places. Further up the Bosphorus is the second bridge, and the Sabanci art museum (and of course lots more!). South of us is Ortakoy, a very busy and touristy area. It’s well-known for its stands selling kumpir (baked potatoes with every imaginable topping):
We enjoy going to Ortakoy on Saturday to get cheese, hava, Turkish delight, roast chickens, and to have brunch at one of the many cafes there. Here are a couple of pictures from one of these trips, where we climbed up for a great view (and of course, there were cats along the way):
Just before Christmas we were visited by Richard, a good friend of ours from Cambridge. He is an art history teacher, and has been to Istanbul many times with his family and with students. Richard had an excellent visit, seeing us and other friends, and even got to see Erdogan (the President)! Richard was our guide for a fabulous outing to the Suleymaniye (one of Sinan’s crowning achievements), streets around, and the Hippodrome. Here are some pictures (and thanks to Richard, we now have some pictures of both of us together):
We are now on Christmas break, which has been great. Leading up to Christmas, we had visits with friends and carol-singing, which made us feel Christmassy and a little home-sick. And Dale was heavily involved in a big event at the school– a sale of used clothes, books, and other items, with proceeds going to the school’s student community projects and to Syrian refugees. Toys were delivered to a refugee center with high needs; photos of the kids opening presents were very moving.
On Christmas Day, our friends Ruth and Sean (Sean’s another new physics teacher, and Ruth is his partner) had dinner with us– Ruth cooked an amazing meal of turkey, gravy, roast vegetables, quinoa stuffing and salads, and we had a lovely time.
This week has been a chance to sleep in, catch up on the Walking Dead and Doctor Who, go for walks, see friends and do some marking of course. And I did get to see Star Wars, which is fantastic. We have been looking after a friend’s cat as well, and their apt is on a hill top between Arnavutkoy and Bebek with a breathtaking view. On the 27th we ventured further north up the Bosphorus to another town, Istinye, with a deep harbour and had “belik ekmek” (fish sandwich) at a small shack by the water with an elderly man cooking up this speciality. On the 28th we headed south and toured through Istanbul’s archeological museum and it is truly incredible with history dating right back through to the iron age and earlier (from 9000 – 60,000 BC!). Heading home by ferry that evening, there were stops along the way, including Ortakoy that was beautifully lit up with new years lights. The ferry costs 2.11 TL, now that’s a cheap cruise. Here’s a few pictures of the museum and our trip home:
Yesterday and today we got snow! Schools are shut (it doesn’t take much for this to happen in Istanbul– we would be shut too if we weren’t already– so no snow days for us). Here’s some pictures (two of them courtesy of our friend Celeste):
That brings us up to date. Dale and I wish all of you the very best for 2016. May this year be one of fulfilment, kindness, friendship, adventure, and commitment. We are missing our families and friends at this time of year, and are looking forward to seeing you in 2016.
with love from Terry and Dale