Turkey is our new favorite country. A few weeks ago Tim had two staff meetings scheduled in Istanbul and spouses were invited to come. With my term completed at NYIT, I was free to join him. And with the Prophet’s Ascension holiday at the end of the week, we took advantage of being in Turkey after the meetings and chartered a 39-foot sailboat for a 3-day sail along the coast.
Two highlights in Istanbul for me were a day-long photographic class and a visit to Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence.
I hired a former National Geographic photographer from Istanbul for my photography class. Prior to our session, I emailed him my thoughts about what I wanted to learn and some of my photographs to show him the kinds of things I was interested in. It was a day filled with looking at reflections, finding repeating patterns in walls and shadows, chatting and drinking tea with herb and vegetable vendors, exploring back streets and narrow alleys, and becoming more comfortable with the settings and adjustments I can make with my camera. Here are a some of my favorite shots from the day…sorry there are so many! It was hard to choose, so please indulge me. :)
Exploring the Museum of Innocence was like entering a world of miniature paintings embued with love, regret, memory and the passage of time. You become enveloped in this alternate world. Each display case in the museum highlights salient features of a chapter in Pamuk’s book “The Museum of Innocence.” I went based on a recommendation from some friends and can’t wait to read the book.
A particularly poignant display contains 4 years of Sibel’s (the lost lover) cigarette stubs taken by Kemal (the protagonist) and then meticulously arranged with a description of the date and circumstances in which the cigarette was smoked.
In an excerpt from the book, Kemal describes bringing the stubs to his lips and feeling the connection to Sibel’s mouth.
By mid-day on Friday, Tim was finished with his meetings and we flew to Gocek to pick up our boat. As chance would have it, we had friends from the Abu Dhabi sailing club who were having work done on their boat in Gocek, so we had dinner aboard their yacht Lily when we arrived.
The Mediterranean coast of Turkey reminds us of the Caribbean but with fewer people, bluer water and many archeological ruins. It is similar to the BVI in that you have good winds and can see any obstructions and therefore have straightforward and relaxed sailing.
We were lucky enough to see a school of dolphins playing the second morning as we sailed over to the island of Gemiler. Gemiler is an isolated, tiny island, yet has ruins from four Christian churches from the 5th -7th centuries AD. One wonders about the people living and worshiping on the island so far from other communities. I loved seeing the contrast of the rock arches and vaults against the clear blue waters.
Later that day, we sailed on to Cold Water Bay and saw the ruins of a Greek village abandoned in the 1920’s. After WWI, the Greeks who were living on Turkish soil were forced to move to Greece. None of the local Turks wanted to move into the homes of their neighbors, so the buildings were left to fall into ruins.
We loved the coast, the small rocky harbors, the lovely water to swim in and the delicious fresh fish dinners. We can’t wait to return.
On an Abu Dhabi note, I was struck by a painting I saw recently at an exhibition at the Emirates Palace. The painting (below) is of 12 women in very colorful hijabs (head scarf) and niqabs (the cloth covering their mouths and noses). Only their eyes are showing.
My friend and I realized that despite having so few clues as to indicate who these women were and what they looked like, we could tell if they were confident by the tilt of their head and the directness of their gaze. We could determine that they were shy by their location standing behind another woman with only one eye showing. We could see who was happy by the shape and glint of their eyes. We even thought one woman looked as though she could be quite fashionable underneath all that fabric due to the shape and lift of her eyebrows. We both had similar opinions about the personalities behind the coverings and realized how much we had learned.
9 DAYS UNTIL I RETURN TO THE US!!!