Saturday, April 30, 2011


Somehow I have to get a 4000 word essay done by May 15th while apartment hunting, working, and doing a variety of other unrelated things. My brain is over-saturated with thought, and I can't focus on sounding academic or summoning up the drive to read any more. I am tired of black type on white paper and screen, and so I've decided I am taking a break until Tuesday. I feel guilty; guilty for enjoying my time with friends and my art supplies. I know everything will ultimately come together, but goodness... I'll be so relieved once the paper is complete and I am sitting on the floor of my new apartment with a hot mug of tea.

in prayer

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

tea or coffee?

One of the things I love about about living in Turkey is that there's no shortage of places to caffeinate oneself. From a çay that'll put hair on your chest, to a dark and silty kahve, you never have to look very far for a fix. In both hole-in-the-walls and chic restaurants, Turkish tea is typically served in elegant little tulip-shaped glasses, but you'll often see a man with two thermoses and a stack of small paper cups walking the streets bellowing "Çay!" I love this. I can get a spot of tea on the street for a lira and go about my business. Waiting for a bus? Have a çay! Feel like sitting in the park? Çay!

If tea isn't your thing, you might opt for a strong and muddy kahve. Rich in flavour and thick on your tongue, Turkish coffee is an acquired experience for some. If you can get past the texture, a dainty little cup of kahve is a real treat. Order it in one of either three ways: sade, orta or şekerli— sugarless, medium sweetness or sweet. I like mine somewhere in the middle. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you might get a cup that has been brewed with cardamom— this is more of a Middle Eastern thing and is not common in Turkey— but if you get the chance to try it, ooh you'd better give it a go. It's heavenly.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

in contrast

Back in the 'Bul.
Oh— and the Blogger ban is officially over! Harika!

salty lips

When faced with the choice between swimming in the sea and taking a cable car up snowy Mount Olympos, I chose the sea. Salt on my lips, that invigorating chill on my limbs— definitely better than a 55 lira trip up a tourist trap. After lazily drying off in the sun, I treated myself to a yummy lunch of pan-fried trout and some çay.


I'm still not sure what the second to last sign on the top row is supposed to be... an electric building?

I entered, and then some.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

burning in the night

A short and bumpy minibus ride from Olympos lies Yanartaş, a large mysterious hill with perpetual flames that ignite from crevices in the rock. Yanartaş, also known as Mount Chimaera, contains about a dozen or so methane vents— it is claimed by people in Olympos that scientists have no idea why or how these flames continue to burn, and are just as mystified as the ancient inhabitants of the region were. After hiking up massive steps in pitch darkness with a tiny flash light for about 25 minutes, I could barely stand on my jelly legs, and suddenly, my breath was taken away at first sight of an orange glow. Thoughts of how I need to get back into shape quickly vanished as I sat down on the rocks, staring into the flames, which seemed paler and sharper than any fire I have seen.

I read somewhere that the chief god of Olympos was Hephaestus, god of fire, metallurgy and volcanoes. I scrawled a wish onto a small slip of paper and offered it to the flames, watching my words burn and curl.


One of the things I love most about travelling is meeting people that I otherwise never would have met had I sat at home. The world is full of fascinating and inspiring people— people who question, seek and discover.  Worn out soles and sun-kissed noses, that spark in the eye and a well-travelled grin, I feel a connection to these wanderers. I'd like to introduce you to a few of the wonderful people I met in Olympos, people who I would call a friend, though the time we spent together is measured in days.

Meet Tyler, Vagabond Extraordinaire. Tyler has been travelling through Asia for eight months, exploring Thailand, India and Turkey. Tyler and his friend Katie had found themselves helping out in an Istanbul hostel that ended up being well, a hostile experience. Following the advice of someone they had met, our adventurers ended up in Olympos, helping out with the bar at Bayram's. I love a good story, and Tyler is one hell of a storyteller— you simply must check out his blog, Lessons from a Vagabond, where he posts beautiful photographs and candid, fun videos documenting his adventures.

In the blue, we have Ken from Malaysia, who has a list of countries under his belt that would strike any traveller with envy. Behind him is Tom, who works for a human rights organisation and has explored the Middle East in depth, with a warm laugh and a great sense of modesty. In the red jacket is the quiet and adventurous Elise, who has been travelling solo through India for several months. She's got an infectious smile and a calmness about her that I deeply appreciate.

Wrapped in the crimson scarf is my friend Molly, whose husband Aurél is driving a vintage VW van out of Afghanistan to Turkey, where he will pick up Molly and drive to France. The entire adventure is being documented on their blog Combi-Nations, which includes the various projects they are undertaking on their long way home. Their camera obscura portrait project is a must-see for anyone interested in photography and culture.

And lastly, yours truly, grimy from hiking and avoiding the cold showers.
You know my story.

hidden gems

After a typical Turkish breakfast of omelettes, white cheese, olives, fresh cucumbers, olives and strong black tea, Molly, a little group of fellow travellers and I decided to take a hike into the woods to look for some of Olympos' famed ancient ruins. We didn't have to walk far before we came upon crumbling walls and mysterious arches, fragments of mosaics and weathered stone carvings.

There is something quite different about walking among the ruins in the trees, you almost feel as though you were that first explorer who discovered them lying there. You can run your hand along the walls, and try to imagine what it all once looked like, a city by the sea.

wet wednesday

Wednesday was cold, rainy and grey— not exactly what I had hoped for, but it was a great time to meet some fellow travellers, sip on tea and listen to wild and wonderful stories. Having avoided a cold shower, I was feeling pretty grimy under my five layers of shirts, my dusty jeans and long striped socks. I had not packed well; I was so optimistic about having spectacular weather in Olympos, I believed that if I packed light clothes, the warm weather would come. It does not work that way.

Dinner at Bayram's was announced at eight by cowbell, and travellers slowly appeared from their little bungalows and cushioned platforms to line up at the buffet. Heaps of pilaf, mounds of eggplant and mantı (a Turkish ravioli) were generously dished out as other staff members tried to light a bonfire near the bar area. The rain had subsided and soon, the orange glow of a fire was growing. Belly full, I wandered over to the warmth with a beer and some new friends. Stories and laughter rose into the night like smoke.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


from orchard to sea

After settling into our tiny wooden bungalow at the very chill and funky Bayram's, Molly and I decided to take a walk to the beach to see how far away it was. The cool breeze brought salt and the heavenly scent of orange blossoms, and the sun was warm enough to make us forget the rainy grey city we left behind. We set out down the road, cameras in hand, thankful for the sun.

To get to the beach, one must pay a very affordable three lira, as the area is a major historical site full of hidden Hellenic, Roman and Genoese ruins. We decided to wander off the main path into the woods to quickly scout out some of the crumbling structures and found ourselves in the most beautiful little orchard, dotted with flaming red poppies. I felt like a little girl again— exploring, inspecting and marvelling. Honeybees and unrecognisable beetles caught my eye, and the rustling of an animal in the brush conjured up images of mythical beasts in my mind. I was slightly disappointed to discover that it was just a very determined-looking chicken.

Hello, Mediterranean.

Friday, April 22, 2011

among the lemon blossoms

The sun has finally made its debut and warmed the citrus orchards of Olympos, on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. I've been here since Tuesday, sitting by campfires, sipping ginger tea and having endless conversations with Molly and a growing collection of new friends. The air is perfumed by sea and flower, pine, earth and fire. The muscles in my shoulders are softening, there is birdsong and the laughter of happy travellers. A hoopoe in its flashy stripes and blushed chest flitted by— an omen of good things to come. Every time I've seen a hoopoe, which has only been three times in my life, something good has followed. I'm feeling very relaxed and excited about today— I think Molly and I are going up Mount Olympos.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

forgotten drawings

Inevitably, when you're split into so many directions at the same time, some artwork gets forgotten on a shelf or in a dark portfolio stashed somewhere out of the way. These are some close-ups of work that has fallen by the wayside— stories of heartbreak and the desire to prune one's feelings before they grow out of control.

I hope I can get back to them soon. Right now I'm distracted by a giant bumblebee and pools of little octopi...