Saturday, August 29, 2009


As I have limited time nowadays, let me share you today, a piece I wrote after my trip to southeastern Turkey last year. Hope you will find it delicious.

One of the great finds of my southeastern trip was the gourmet delight, truffle mushroom. The risotto I cooked with them was just delicious.

I first saw the truffle vendors near the Umayyad Mosque at Damascus. It was quite surprising to find this expensive and rare item of the French cuisine that was suppose to have aphrodisiac qualities in Damascus. I did not buy them at that time, afraid that I might not carry them in a good condition back home.

While traveling in southeastern Turkey I first saw a small amount in a fisherman’s shop in Mardin and then some in Urfa. After learning that it was possible to keep them fresh up to a week by covering them with newspaper and keeping rather in a cool place, the transaction was inevitable. After paying USD 15/kg, and using the refrigerators of the up coming hotels, I have to say that the end result in Istanbul was quite successful.

In the Internet sites, its been written that it has a rather spicy taste and crunchy if eaten raw but they are all mentioning about its smell as the most unique element of truffle. To tell you the truth I did not catch any specific smell other than the slight smell of the earth.Truffle is a mushroom type that grows inside the earth. So in order to find this highly prized good, they are using specially trained dogs in France. Peter Mayle, was telling the story of a man who was stealing the truffle from his neighbor’s land with the help of his dog during night in his beautiful book Encore Provence. But one Internet site. ( www. ) was telling that apart from dogs they are also using female pigs Apparently, as the smell of the mushroom quite resembles the smell of a male pig, Miss Piggys were very successful in locating them.

I have never smell a male pig in my life but I could make three deductions from my experience. Either I have a problem with my nose, or the mushrooms that I bought had no smell or male pigs have a light smell of earth. But whatever it is the risotto was just delicious.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sirince vs Kayakoy

While we are busy with packing, visiting and saying our good byes to all those loved beaches and places, let me take you today to two very different villages, we have visited this summer. The Greeks living on these villages were rapatriated after the 1923 population exchange between the two countries. Close to 1 million Greeks and 400 thousand Turks affected from this policy and changed their countries and homes in those days.
First one is Sirince.. A 600 year old village about 30 km from Kusadasi. Famous with its fruit wines and olive oil production. According to newspapers Oprah Winfrey who visited Turkey this summer, selected Sirince as her favorite place in Turkey which reminded her the Tuscany region of İtaly. Although heavily populated with tourists, it is still a very charming place..

Second village is Kayakoy or Levissi as they called in those days. It is located close to Fethiye, visited often by the tourist as it is on the famous Lycian Way. It is probably one of the saddest places that I ever visited. After the repatriation, Turks coming from Greece who were mostly farmers did not want to live in this village. They preffered the valley. Greeks living on these hillsides were dealing in crafts and trade. According to locals there were also rumors in those days about the poisining of the water sources by the departing Greeks. Whatever the reasons, first Greeks than the Turks left this village which was a beautiful place once upon a time. So today its like a ghost city.

I visited Kayakoy couple times before and every time I was there, I always remember my father's great grand parents who left their houses and properties in Crimea-Russia and my mother's parents who left their beautiful houses and gardens in Romania. I tried to imagine their pain and desperation without success.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Last days of Summer...

We have a saying around here that goes ' half of August is summer, the other half is winter' . Although I tried to deny it for the last week, the sun doesnt burn any more as it used to be, evenings are much cooler and last but not the least the empty beach tells it all. Yes, I have to accept it. The summer is almost over..

Our neighbours started to close their homes, the sounds of the happy children running in the gardens started to fade away. We are also planning to leave as of September 1st., and welcome the new season in İstanbul. A city which I have a deep love and hate relation which you will read alot in the coming months.

However, as if trying to keep us here more, the Mediterranean behaves at its best. Its calm, quiet, shows us its beautiful colors in a variety of ways.. According to my previous experiences September is definitely the best month here, when the vacationer crowds leave and left the peninsula and it's beaches to it's true lovers. Unfortunately due to some previous engagements we have to go as well..

So to make the long story short, I have to start packing. So here is my to go list from the wonderful summer of 2009. Some are on my bags , some are on my mind.. I hope they will last until next summer...

  • sun tan

  • hundreds of photograps from trips around

Green Tangerines

lots and lots of almond. Especially some with barks on for winter home decoration

pebbles,sea glasses and shells from the sea

laughter under the sun

many shared moments with friends and family

litres of organic olive oil that will last for the winter.

Meditative moments under the sun

Diving into the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean

Long walks on the beach with the loved one..

Sun dried tomatoes, mint,rosemary

Drinking wine while watching the full moon on the roof

2 beautiful paintings from the local artists

Wonderful photographs are belong to Rengim Mutevellioglu's vacation series. She is a young and extremly talented girl I found in flickr. For sometime I am a silent follower of her photos. Last winter I remember spending many happy hours checking her photos. She has also lovely photos of Datca.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dalyan - Kaunos - İztuzu Beach

Last week I took you to the modest grave of the last Ottaman Sultan in Syria. Today, let me show you some other tombs from Dalyan. I dont know if they are modest or not but they definitely have a good view. They are the tombs of the kings of Kaunos..

Dalyan is a small town in the south west of Turkey, famous with its rock tombs, Kaunos antic city and İztuzu beach which is the breeding ground for Caretta Caretta - loggerhead sea turtles. Best way to reach Kaunos and the only way to reach the İztuzu beach is to rent a boat and sail thru the Dalyan river, and that' s what exactly we did 2 weeks ago.

We have rented a boat and this time my mother and my niece were with us..

We first stopped at the ancient city of Kaunos. It was a city in the ancient Caria. It's location over the river and its ancient theatre where you can sit under the shadows of olive trees were beautiful.

Our last stop was İztuzu beach which was voted the best beach in the world in 1995. After my experience with its luke warm water I can say that turtles and I do not share the same opinion on what a good sea should feel like. As the photo I took that day did not give the necessary credit to one of the best beaches in the world because of the crowds, here I am putting a photo from my friend Ozan Alperden. He took this photo in the spring. I think its a good view of the 6 km long beach..

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Meet Almond..

Sunday is the time to rest. So let me introduce you to Almond (Badem) who is quite good at it.

Almond is a Mediterranean monk seal who happens to be a well known character in my little peninsula as well as the areas around it. Badem rescued in Dec 2006 as an orphaned pup and underwent rehabilitation for sometime and then released. However during that time he learned to love us humans more then his own kind. So he repeatedly appears in the shores for human contact and do not forget to take a good rest whenever he finds a suitable place..
1 photo from here, 2. is from here

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Ring and A Story - Damascus

( I wrote this piece 2 years ago after a trip to Syria, and as I was wearing my ring today, I remembered and wanted to share it with you...)

I bought a ring from a souk in Aleppo. On it’s round silver surface, a sentence from Koran engraved in Arabic with a beautiful calligraphy. It says, ‘everything will die/change except the face of God.’

Deaths, funerals and cemeteries have always created different feelings in me. On the one, hand there is the feeling of loss and the end, and on the other hand the feeling that I don’t have to take myself and what I have too seriously, as everything will end one day and the urge to fully enjoy every remaining minutes of my life.

I felt those feelings in the most acute sense when I lost my father. One part of me was senseless due to pain, but the other part was urging me to f… the problems at work or the boy friend who was not calling and telling me that everything will change, and I have to start living and do whatever I want to do as soon as possible.

Since then, those feelings have remained with me. I always know that happiness or sadness, whatever it is, will pass one day, and I try not to indulge myself to either of them strongly.Those feelings were with me in a small cemetery in Damascus. There is a small Ottoman cemetery near the Takıyya al Sulaimaniyya, the current day military museum. There are 40-50 graves here belonging to some dynasty members as well as the Ottoman rulers of the period. One of the graves that is the most important one historically but the most unpretentious one, is belong to the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Vahdettin.

Vahdettin was 57 years old when he ascended the throne on July 4, 1918. He waited this moment long enough at his house at Çengelköy. And that day, he first reached to Sarayburnu pier with a steamboat.. Ministers, members of the parliament and all the staff of the Topkapi Palace were waiting him in an orderly way at the gilded door of the palace. Vahdettin along with Enver Pasha who was escorting him in his car, got off from the car in the most dignified manner, and walked to the Baghdad pavilion

He rested at the pavilion for a while, then he took Abdulmecit, the son of his uncle Sultan Abdülzaziz, the new heir of the Empire and they went to the Babüssade and he sat at the emerald throne according to the Ottoman customs.

At the same moment, cannon fires were announcing the ascending of Vahdettin while all the Ottoman Princes, leading religious, civil and military figures, were offering their loyalty to the new Sultan.

The next scene is from villa Magnolia in San Remo, Date was, May 15,1926. Eight long years and lots of events passed since that day. After a while he called for Nevzat Kadıefendi who was always around him, and asked for a bowl and said he has pain in his gall, and vomited a little. And then said,’ Oh! Throw this immediately so that it won’t stink. After Nevzat Kadıefendi cleaned the bowl, he found the lifeless body of the Sultan Vahdettin in his deck chair. Those were the last minutes of the last Ottoman Sultan.

The debtors and bankruptcy officers prevented the removal of the body for 4-5 days in San Remo. When they broke into his bag for money, all they found were medallions and decorations, stripped out of their diamonds and valuable stones long ago for the expenses. While the households were negotiating with the debtors in the living room of the villa, Prince Omar Faruk and Tahir bey, secretly loaded the body to a horse cart at the back door, hidden under heavy carpets and the funeral reached to San Remo station.

That was how the body of the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire kidnapped from the debtors, whose predecessors ruled and protected numerous kings and shahs through the centuries and regarded as the ‘holy emperor’ of the all seas and lands in the world. A cart pulled by a single horse moved slowly in the streets of San Remo and the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was starting his last journey.

Vahdettin who was coming from the bloodline of the likes of Fatih the Conqueror and Sulaiman the Magnificent, buried in Damascus that is the closest Islam land to the city that he was born. This is a story that I will remember every time I wear my ring.

I roughly translate italic parts from the book of Yilmaz Cetiner, Last Sultan Vahdettin.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Temple of Apollo at Didyma

The only question came to my mind when I was standing in front of the Temple of Apollo was if I was going to lead a happy and fulfilled life..

Although the famous oracle of the temple gone long ago, I still heard her answer in the silence of my heart. '' - You can, if you choose to...''

I'd better believe her as it was she who told Alexander the Great that he will beat the Persians right at this place.

In 313 BC, the Milesians began to build this temple on the site of the earlier shrine, which they intended to be the largest in the Greek world. Construction continued during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC and the Oracle of Apollo at Didyma rivaled that of Delphi. However it was never entirely completed.

In those days , pilgrims walked 20 km along the Sacred Way from Miletus to the temple to worship Apollo and also to find answers about their future. Well, in modern times we did not walk that distance but drive. I guess it still counts...

While we were leaving Oracle also whispered to my heart that I will always be happy with this man :))

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flip Flops

I am not one of those women who is crazy about shoes. Well, I have a thing - for big bags, but let's say it's on a managable level.

However when it comes to flip flops, I cant get enough of them. Where my shoe expense for the summer is almost close to nothing, I constantly keep buying flip flops of all colors and shapes. Luckily they are not expensive.

I even succeded in converting my husband in to them who used to think that it was not a -man- thing, before me. Now I cant get him to wear a decent shoe when we are going out.

They represent all the things that I love.. Summer, freedom, simplicity, outdoors etc..God bless who invented them..
PS: As for my little model, she had a happy but short life. After she started her life in my balcony,my neighbor adopted her. She soon became a lazy and fat cat but unfortunately she got hit by a car..

Monday, August 17, 2009


I love visiting ancient cities. A couple quiet minutes spend by sitting on a thousand year old pillar always reminds me that nothing is permanent. I like imagining the people, how they lived, what they cherrished and even sometimes try to hear their sounds in the blowing wind. It's always a great meditation about life for me. All those beautiful ruins, much loved cities, temples and Gods, gone long ago, remind me not to cling on to anything. Nothing is permanent: All our material treasures, all out loved ones, our lifes..... What we really have is the moment we are in, rest was and will be history..

Luckily we have plenty of ancient cities around here for me to meditate. Today I will take you to ancient Hellenistic city of Priene. We stopped there 2 weeks ago on an early morning. I was quite hungry so before starting to climb the city, I fed myself with grilled goat cheese and tomatoes, which were the only available things in a small restaurant at that hour.

Priene is a beautiful city established on a mountain around 8th century BC. Pillars of the Athena temple welcomes you to the city. They are magnificent. For my day dreaming time I found a shadow under a pine tree, near the temple. I tried to visualize Alexander the Great and the time he spent in this city during his siege of another nearby city Miletus.. Well, as Hollywood gave us the image of handsome Collin Farrell as Alexander the Great, it was rather easy to imagine him ordering the construction of this temple and probably standing right by my pine tree to decide where to built it.

Our last stop on the city was it's small theater with VIP seats.. Theater originally built in the 4th century BC by the Greeks, and later was expanded by the Romans in the 2nd century AD to hold 6,000 spectators.. One of my guide books said that whoever visited this theater had not miss the opportunity to photographed himself sitting on one of the 5 VIP chairs. So that's what exactly we did..


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