Greetings from the mighty land of Istanbul, former home of the Ottoman and Roman Empires- a unique city on the Bosphorus Sea that straddles two continents-Europe and Asia. The planning and preparations that took place prior to embarking on this journey were exhausting and concerning.-canceled flights, worried friends, fluky, downright strange and cryptic events that have no place in this blog. However, it is noteworthy as it simmered behind the scenes like a witch’s bubbling vat. Nonetheless, minor irritations at best--because here we are in our surreal and exotic world, with all that way in the rearview mirror. Travel is never easy and it is the effort, time and energy that is put into it that reciprocally brings pleasure, awe and gratification.
Entering Istanbul, the vast Bosphorus Sea greets you. Bifurcating this region, high rises and trendy condos flank each side. Palm trees sway in the air, illuminated with many encouraging abundant signs of construction and re-gentrification. I currently am sitting perched atop the first floor of my beautiful room at the Vault Hotel http://www.thehousehotel.com/the-house-hotel-vault-karakoy.aspx in the area of Karakoy. This region lies in the northern part of the Golden Horn mouth on the European side of Bosphorus. It is also one of the oldest and most historic districts of the city.
Entering the hotel, one is almost transported back in time. The establishment was a former bank and even still houses a vault- which will be explored at some point. The antiquities housed within the hotel are breathtaking and imposing. Greeted by the friendly staff, we were quickly taken care of and taken to our little jewel of a room. It is a petite room, a perfect geometrical square with impressive floor to ceiling windows, an opulent ceiling and art befitting for a gallery. Of course, it has all the creature comforts of home, as well as free WIFI, a gorgeous marble bathroom and a bidet that the Hubs was accidently violated by (mistaking for a toilet handle).
With a very strange, but dually exciting midnight flight across the Atlantic, we did not arrive until late evening to Istanbul. Not tired, but lacking motivation, we explored our internal surroundings and dined at the restaurant here in the hotel on the roof deck http://www.kasalokanta.com/tr/rooftop/ . Sitting window side, we held a bird eye’s view of Istanbul. The Hage Sophia- which you will hear much of later, stood impressively in the distance. The Sea -dark and infinite, showed off the many ships crisscrossing the calm waterway. Lights twinkling in the evening sky as nocturnal birds flapped their wings in a delicate dance.
Our waiter, friendly and very informative helped us choose our selections from the Turkish delicacies. He started us off with fresh and flavorful bread with a tangy tomato and olive oil tapenade. This was followed by an appetizer so impressively displayed, of 10 spoons housing a variety of Turkish specialties.-all of which were delicious. A creamy, garlicy hummus, a unique fennel and plum jam, a tart yogurt spread and others.
Each bite more tantalizing then the next. Dinner comprised of eggplant and Halloumi cheese in tangy and smoky tomato compote. The cheese, a Cypress cheese unique to this area, melted over the eggplant like gooey velvet blanket-all these flavors, foreign and pleasant to my taste buds.
The meal ended with the sweet and delicate loveliness of baklava-the airy pastry and pistachio sweetness with a tease of clotted cream on top.
The meal was absolutely memorable, the service was impeccable, the atmosphere and view 5 star and the price was very reasonable. Considering our options this evening was a bag of nuts or this- I would say we chose wisely, a real perfect start to an exciting adventure.
Well, as all spring trips usually occur (if you are a faithful follower of A Girl, Her Hub and a Suitcase) you will know today it a 4 Letter day for this duo-as it is also the Hubs birthday today. So, I must bring this to a close as the celebratory festivities of the birth of the Hubs is about to commence.
More tales of Turkish delight to come,
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