“This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition. Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with gun powder. “
Honore de Balzac
Top Ten Coffee Travel Moments
I realized by writing this blog that I am addicted to caffeine. There are way too many references to coffee. It is the only vice I have left. I thought I would embrace it by writing my top ten coffee travel moments.
!. I am seventeen and in Europe for the first time. We are in CERVINA in the Italian Alps. There is a cappuccino bar that we go to every morning and have fresh cappuccino before a day of skiing. It is pre cell phones and Starbucks. The only cappuccino you got in NY was in the Italian restaurants after dinner. There was no decaf cap. Cappuccino every morning was as big a deal as skiing in the Alps for the first time.
2. The island of SANTORINI in Greece is where i am spending my twenty third summer. I am staying at my friend’s house on a mountain overlooking the sea. It is one of those Santorini white houses with blue tile. We have to walk halfway down the mountain every morning to have coffee and fresh bread with butter and honey, at a café run by a family that doesn’t speak English. Santorini was not the five-star tourist destination it is now but it always had five-star views of the sea, volcano and black sand beaches. . “kafe me gala sketos parakalo” The grandmother always dressed in black would smile at my bad Greek pronunciation and bring me my coffee. They used condensed milk all the time with coffee and I love the taste. I think they wear black because someone in their family close to them has died – usually they are widows.
3. My daughter who is twelve and her tap company have performed at the Cuban Ballet Festival throughout Cuba. We are driving back to HAVANA from Santa Clara. Since Petrol is scarce, members of the Columbian Ballet Company are sharing the bus with us. We get back around five and I have a serious lack of caffeine headache. I invite the Columbian dancers who I have spoken to in bad Spanish for a coffee at the hotel. I order a double espresso and drink it down like I am doing a shot of tequila. First they stare at me and then they laugh and do the same. We start by drinking espresso shots –we move on to Mojitos. No one slept that night. (Cuba,Jim Kane)
4. We have arrived at the SACRED VALLEY in Urubumba, Peru. We are spending the night at the beautiful Sol Y Luna hotel and the altitude is 9000 feet. (2400 m) It is our first night in the Andes. I start to have this headache and feel dizzy. As we are going to our rooms someone says to me, “Be careful, the headache is the first sign of altitude sickness”. I go right to the worst case scenario. I remember my mindfulness training as I am going into high anxiety mode. I investigate the feeling in my body and think it isn’t that severe. It feels like a lack of caffeine headache. I remember I didn’t have coffee that afternoon. I relax and go right to sleep. I wake up early and have a wonderful Peruvian breakfast of yogurt , fruit, kikucha cereal ( grain like quinoa) and coffee. No more headache.
5. I usually hate instant room coffee. But in PANAMA it was really good. It is called Puro and I brought some home. I have a confession. I kind of like non dairy creamer Sometimes your diet needs a few chemicals. I got up every morning in Gamboa to watch the sunrise over the rainforest and had a coffee while lying in a hammock on the terrace.
6. Anna and I have spent the day on the island of NAOSHIMA in Japan. It is the island that Tadao Ando has designed and dedicated to art and nature. There are museums, outdoor sculptures, galleries and installations in houses throughout the island. It is a bit like a scavenger hunt trying to see everything. But we did it. We are at a small ferry at the other end of the island that locals use to head back to the mainland . I am looking for coffee. We see something that looks like it might be open. We walk in. There is cool music and magazines and interesting furniture and art . It is like a Japanese Greenwich village coffee-house on this little island street. We can’t believe our luck. We have coffee and wait in this beautiful restaurant for the ferry and talk about our amazing day.
7. I had been in the incredible city of VENICE for a few days with my daughter and a friend. My son arrived after traveling around Europe alone. He had a lot to say and wanted to have a coffee in Venice and talk about his travels. We sat in a café on the canal and he told me his stories. I was happy sitting there listening to him and I could hear that he loved to travel as much as I did. Family travel moments are few and far between now. It was a beautiful trip.
8. It was my first day in ISTANBUL. I had shopped at the Grand Bazaar with my guide for the day Renan. We stopped for lunch. We met carpet salesmen from Los Angeles. Suddenly, it didn’t seem so far away. This was my first experience with Turkish food. Hot yogurt soup and something with my favorite vegetable –eggplant. – delicious. I had my first Turkish coffee. (a lot like Greek coffee) I loved the thickness and the feeling of the grounds in my mouth ( coffee that you can chew). It isn’t bitter either so I am able to drink it without milk. She read the coffee grinds to me. We used to do this in Greece. It was my first coffee fortune in a very long time. It wasn’t bad. My next one wasn’t great. So I stopped doing it and just drank the coffee.
9. I am in EDINBURGH, Scotland for the Fringe Festival. My daughter is performing there with her high school theatre group. In the summer, walking down the Royal Mile is crazy. Everyone is in costume and giving out flyers and performing and begging to get you to go their shows. The Starbucks is right at the beginning of the Royal Mile, next to the Fringe Ticket Office. I meet a friend for coffee after picking up some tickets. We are surrounded by Vikings and Elizabethans all having cappuccinos and lattes. In fact, only the barristers are dressed in modern-day clothing. I felt a little underdressed.
10. A few weeks ago, I was walking down Portobello Road in LONDON with my college friend Suzie. Suzie was the first person I traveled around Europe with . We were about eighteen. We lost touch after college but reconnected a few years ago through the magic of facebook. We were both going to be in London at the same time. We aren’t looking for vintage clothes like we used to (and still do) but vintage housewares. It is freezing out. We go into a coffee house and see a long queue. It is called the Coffee Planner. The girl in front of me says it is the best coffee on Portobello Road and worth waiting for. Suzie buys an unbelievably good sandwich from a vendor outside and we sit and drink our coffees eating this sandwich. Jayne and Suzie together again in Europe. ( St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge)
Do you have any good coffee moments?
Things I Have Learned In Istanbul
“Life cant be that bad, I’d think from time to time. Whatever happens, I can always take a walk along the Bosphorus” Orhan Pamuk.
Istanbul is the only city built on two continents – Asia and Europe.
Istanbul was first known as Byzantium . The name of Constantinople came from the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great who rebuilt the city on seven hills, to match the famous seven hills of Rome. The name finally changed to Istanbul in 1930 when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk proclaimed the Republic. To ensure the usage of the new name, Turkish authorities resent all mail and packages that were sent to a previous city name.
Istanbul has been capital of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, yet it isn’t the capital city of modern Turkey, which is Ankara. Istanbul is however the largest city in Turkey.
The Basilica Cistern is the largest and most spectacular of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city. The cistern was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian. It was used to bring water to the Imperial Palace and later Topkapi Palace. The cistern looks like an eerie underground cathedral with Roman columns and Medusa. It was the setting for the 1963 James Bond film, from Russia with Love. James Bond once again appeared in Turkey more recently in Skyfall. We had dinner at the same restaurant.
Istanbul has the biggest car ferries in the world on the Sea of Marmara.
Suleyman the Magnificent wanted a mosque qppropriate to his title. He commissioned architect Mimar Sinan to build the Suleymaniye Mosque which was completed in 1557. The mosque had a madrasa, houses, infirmaries, caravansarais, a medical school, hamams, a Hadeth school, a hospital and shops. It is the largest mosque in Istanbul. The Suleymaniye Mosque is a beautiful example of Ottoman Islāmic architecture. There is a wonderful light spiritual feeling inside. (inner courtyard, recycled columns, interior, exterior view)
Be physically and mentally prepared to shop in the Grand Bazaar. Be thirsty for you will drink many cups of tea. Wear comfortable shoes because there are over 5000 shops and sixty streets. The street names refer to the different trades and crafts. I must have been on leather jacket street. Be in a good mood to deal with shopkeepers who will try to lure you in. You will have many best friends and marriage proposals. Hone up on your bargaining skills. Allow plenty of time to explore. Take advantage of fresh squeezed pomegranate juice for energy. Most important – never forget your luggage allowance or you will spend the rest of your trip wondering how you will get all the leather jackets home. The Bazaar has come a long way from the original construction in the fifteenth century. They now have a website.
Bibliophiles will want to head towards Sahaflar Çarşısı (Old Book Bazaar), which is found in a shady little courtyard west of the Grand Bazaar at the end of Kalpakçılarbaşı Caddesi. The book bazaar dates from Byzantine times. Its stallholders sell books both new and old.
The Spice Market (also known as the Eygptian Bazaar because a few centuries ago it was the market for goods brought from Egypt) was built in the seventh century near the Galtaea Bridge on the Golden Horn. It is across from the ferry docks. Spices, dried fruits, olive oil, cheeses, sausages, jams, nuts and seeds, teas, lokum (Turkish Delight), sweets, caviar and other edibles fill most of the shops. It has become a lot more touristy in the past ten years. It is not easy to make a living just selling spices and so many other shops are now in the market as well. I should have bought saffron.
The Pera Museum has a lovely collection of European, Ottoman and Turkish paintings. They have interesting temporary exhibitions as well. It is closed Mondays. My favorite new painting “The Turtle Trainer” by Osman Hamdi Bey is there.
Rustem Pasha Mosque was commissioned by Suleyman’s son in law and built by Sinan. It was completed in 1561 It is located in an old and busy market area. The mosque is known for its beautiful Iznik tiles from the sixteenth century covering entire walls. It is a very special mosque and really lovely inside.
The Bosphorous is the biggest canal in the world.
Hagia Sophia is the most important building in Istanbul. It was built in the fourth century and is the masterpiece of Byzantine architecture.
People who live in Istanbul are called Istanbulites.
The Asian side of Istanbul is a great place to live if you are a Turkish Yuppie. (T-uppie?) They have cool restaurants and stores, gyms, many Starbucks and a Pinkberry.
The historic Sirkeci Train Station is in Istanbul. This was the last stop on the Orient Express “king of trains and train of kings” – between Paris and Constantinople from 1883 to 1977. Agatha Christie was one of the passengers of this famous train. She wrote her novel “Murder on the Orient Express” in Istanbul at the Pera Palace Hotel ( I stayed there) Her book fans always want to see her room.
If you ride trains in Turkey, they’ll most likely not be from Istanbul, as all intercity trains from Haydarpasa Station on the Asian side of the Bosphorous have been cancelled until 2014, while the rail line eastward is upgraded.
Istanbul has the third oldest subway in the world, built in 1875. It is 573 meters long and located in the Tunel neighborhood in the Beyoglu district. The London subway was built in 1863 and the New York subway was built in 1868.
Istanbul has the only soccer stadium where you can see two continents. Turkish people take their soccer seriously. It is not unusual to see the police ready for a big game.
The first recorded international treaty in the world was the Treaty of Kadesh between the Hittite and Egyptian Empires, Hattusilis III and Ramses II, in c.1275 BC. You can see it at the Istanbul Archeological museum. I wish I could say that I saw it, being that I was at that museum, but I was obsessed with the Alexander Sarcophagus.
The Alexander Sarcophagus was made in the fourth century (Greek) and is covered on four sides with an exquisite bas-relief of Alexander the Great in action. It was discovered in an excavation led by artist Osman Hamdi Bey who became director of the museum. It was at first thought to have been Alexander the Great’s sarcophagus but that was found to be untrue. The figures are quite lifelike as is the movement and pain on the faces. It is among the most important classical antiquities ever discovered. It is totally intact and in almost perfect condition. It is said to have been done by as many as six sculptors (which is what I figured out by staring at it for a while)
The Golden Horn is entirely in Europe. It leads into the Bosphorus, which is the water that divides the two continents, which joins the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, which in turn leads into the Mediterranean.
Topkapi Palace was the primary residence of the Sultans for four hundred years. Construction began in 1459 by Sultan Mehmed II and continued over centuries. Architect Sinan redid the kitchen quarters in the sixrteenth century. It is a good example of Ottoman architecture. It houses the famous Topkapi Dagger ( made famous by the movie Topkapi) and important holy relics from the Muslim world including Mohammed’s cloak and dagger.
The Harem of the Topkapi Palace has more than 400 rooms and was home to the Sultan’s mother,wives, concubines, children, servants and eunuchs. Many of the rooms and features were designed by architect Sinan.
When Istanbul was part of the Ottoman Empire there were over 1,400 public toilets all around the city. At the same time, there weren’t any in Europe.
I don’t know what to say about the Dolmabahci Palace after looking at so much beautiful pristine Mosque architecture. The design could be described as Baroque Rococco Neoclassical Ottoman style. They were not afraid to use too much gold. The Dolmabahci Palace is the largest palace in Turkey and has a beautiful view of the Bosphorous. It cost five million Ottoman gold coins in 1856. It was home to six Sultans and Ataturk. The world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier is in the center hall. Dolmabahçe has the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world, and one of the great staircases has banisters of baccarat crystal. Turks may come to see this because Ataturk died here but they do not like this palace. It was a lot of money to spend at a time when life was not easy for most people.
Four bronze horses which decorate San Marco Cathedral in Venice today, were taken from Istanbul (Constantinople back then) by the Crusaders in the 13th century. I took a picture of the stolen horses when I was in Venice if they need evidence.
The Blue Mosque is the only mosque in Istanbul with six minarets, which is the largest number you can have in a mosque. It is called the Blue Mosque because of the 20,000 blue Iznik tiles inside. The façade is built in the same way as the Suleyman mosque. It was designed by a student of Sinan. It Is exquisite but a major tourist attraction and always very crowded. You must just stare at the ceiling if you want to feel any spirituality.
Istanbul Modern is the first and only modern art museum in Istanbul. It opened in 2004 and is home to modern Turkish artists and Istanbul fashion week.
.The most precious remnant of the Hippodrome and oldest monument of Constantinople is the Egyptian Obelisk, which was erected by Pharaoh Thurmosis lll in Karnak 1471 BC. (this looks exactly like my Washington Monument photo – we are copycats)
The old city walls are a nice place to hang out.
Whatever happens, I can always take a cruise down the Bosphorus.
For more info read Top Ten Things in Turkey
Top Ten Meals In Turkey
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
My Top Ten Favorite Things In Turkey
. 1.Cappadocia could be among my favorite places in the world. The dramatic landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions years ago. Wind and water eroded the land leaving these odd surreal land formations, fairy chimneys, and caves and underground cities.
Goreme Open Air Museum is a group of cave churches and monasteries from the 11th-13thcentury. The most famous and most restored one is Karanlik Killse (Dark Church) which is filled with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. Early Christians escaping from Roman persecution found shelter in Cappadocia.
Yunak Evleri Hotel is an amazing Cave Hotel carved into a mountain in the ancient city of Urgup. (.yunak.com/en/index.html)
Ziggys is not the restaurant you would expect to find in an ancient cave city. It is cool with interesting decor and great music . It is owned by Selim and Nuray Yuksel. Nuray is an artist and also runs a beautifully displayed gallery filled with crafts and jewelry from local Turkish artists downstairs. The food is so good that we ate there both nights. ( ziggycafe.com )
Hiking through the Mushroom Valley, Love Valley, Goreme Valley, walking all around Urgup early in the morning
Hot Air Balloon at dawn over Goreme valley.
2.Any restaurant or menu chosen by Oguz Kaya. I have never eaten Turkish food before. I had no idea it was my favorite food. Every meal was “the best one”. We ate in expensive restaurants, gas stations, hotels, outdoor seaside restaurants, an organic garden , a mosque, –even the food in Ankara airport was good. (Uzun Ev Restaurant in Behramkale, Daruzziyafe, Ottoman restaurant in Suleymaniye Mosque by Sinan in Istanbul, Orient restaurant in Cappadocia)
3.Any mosque by architect Sinan especially Selimiye Mosque in Edirne I loved the Selimiye Mosque and it turns out that it is Sinan’s favorite mosque as well. He wanted it to be greater than the Hagia Sophia. His genius was in his use of form, simplicity, light and balance. It all worked when you walked in. He is also considered to be one of the first earthquake-proof engineers. ( Selimiye mosque,1575, notice the recycled columns)
4. Hearing the call to prayer early in the morning at the Hotel Manici Kasri in Yesilkurt. In a tiny village of stone houses at the foot of Mt Ida is this charming hotel. Yesilkurt (which I still can not pronounce – it is harder than it looks.) has the second highest concentration of oxygen in the air in the world. It is a small hotel with pomegranate trees and great food. It was very quiet in those mountains and early in the morning I awoke to the call to prayer – the only sound in this village. I could have been in any mountain village but the call to prayer in Turkey always reminds me to take a minute and be in the present. (www.manicikasri.com )
5 Hammam. I like a good hammam. I didn’t know that until I got to Istanbul and found out what it was. You’re taken to a warm, humid room with a raised stone platform (goebektas) in the center, surrounded by bathing alcoves. The light, diffused through glass in the ceiling is soft and relaxing. You lay on the platform (usually with other people), and you’re scrubbed cleaner than you have ever been. They use a coarse mitt to remove layers of dead skin and then comes the soap. A lacy cloth is used , like an icing bag, and they blow through it to create bubbles so you’re covered from head to toe with white frothy bubbles. It is followed by a massage.
6 Hagia Sophia I studied this masterpiece of Byzantine architecture in school and always wanted to see it. It was built in the fourth century as a church and converted to a mosque in the sixteenth century. It was the world’s largest cathedral for 1000 years and contains remnants of all the renovations. It is now a museum and very crowded but I was able to block out the noise and feel the history and remember the architectural elements. I had so many questions but I was overwhelmed and couldn’t speak. It was real. I was finally in Istanbul at the Hagia Sophia.
7.Drinking fresh pomegranate juice on the street and picking one from a tree and eating it.
8. “The Turtle Trainer” by Osman Hamdi Bey. This painting is in the Pera Museum in Istanbul. It shows a man ( self-portrait of the artist) in what looks like a religious red robe, holding a sufi flute trying to train turtles. But the turtles have no ears and a thick shell so they probably don’t hear him. The lesson is that change is difficult and requires patience. Osman Hamdi Bey was an important artist and intellectual in the Ottoman Empire. He established the first School for the Arts in Istanbul. Who can say why a painting touches you? But I will always remember this painting.
9. Shopping for leather, carpets, scarves, bracelets and pottery . Shopping again . And again.
10. Stopping at an empty caravanserai on the silk road from China to Europe and hearing the call to prayer. This time, I pictured the caravan drivers hearing the same thing. The caravanserais were built like forts. They were a safe places for caravans. Once within the caravanserai a weary caravan could look forward to warm food, a bath and a safe shelter for the night for both men and animals. They provided food and lodging reportedly at no charge for 3 nights and free repair to footwear. They were conveniently spaced a day’s camel ride apart. (camels can ride from sunrise to sunset. The riders worked like truckers and had their routes.) Built to promote trade, they brought prosperity to the communities hosting them. Nobility and their entourages used them too. So did the military. (Hoca Mesut Caravanserai 1231-1239)
“Think, in this batter’d Caravanserai, Who portals are alternate night and day, How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp, Abode his destined hour, and went his way.” Omar Khayyam
There are countries I visit that I love and then there are countries where I leave a part of myself so I will come back. Turkey is a place I will return to.
For more info on Turkey read Things I Have Learned In Istanbul https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/things-i-have-learned-in-istanbul/
Top Ten Meals In Turkey
Things I’ve Learned In Ephesus