I’ve just returned from what has so far been the greatest trip of my life. My nearly three week trip to Turkey was one of the greatest experiences of my life filled with one adventure after the other.  New friends were made, old places were discovered, random miracles occurred, and my superb brother-in-law is now a married man.  I’m lucky to have a new sister-in-law in my life who is extra special.  As I flip through the 1300 photos I took, I become overwhelmed with where to begin with blog posting!  From Istanbul to Fethiye to Kas, it was non-stop action.  I’ve decided to start with the arrival of Darryl and I, before all the friends and family started to arrive from as far away as San Francisco, Berlin, London, Florida, etc.  And what a group they were — I have never been around such an adventurous and happy group of people. Leaving was hard and the tears wouldn’t stop, but if there is one emotion that sums up how I’m feeling now that I’m back home, I would have to say I feel grateful.  Grateful that I was able to have this awesome experience and meet such an incredibly talented, loving group of people.  I remember having several pauses during the trip where I thought, “this is beyond words” — I shouldn’t even talk about it because I wouldn’t even know what to say!  It’s so hard to convey the special moments and the details of what I discovered, so hopefully these pictures I’ll be posting over the next couple of weeks will do that.  Oh, and if you’ve never been to Turkey, please go if you’re wondering where to plan your next trip. This was my second time to visit and it never ceases to completely floor me.

My brother-in-law, Dano, and his wife Ayse live in Istanbul in the neighborhood of Galata.  They live right next to the Galata tower that you see pictured here, a medieval stone tower built in 1348.  It was part of a fortress built by the Genoese, and later in the Ottoman period it was used to spot fires.  Now, you can climb to the top and have dinner with a marvelous view.  No need for us to do that when Dano has the same view from his terrace…

This is the sunset view from Dano’s apartment overlooking the Bosphorus and The Golden Horn.  There really isn’t a better view than the one from his apartment, except for maybe the rooftop view!  They really scored on their new place.

To the right you’ll see the Hagia Sophia, and that little landmark to the left of it is Topkapi Palace.  The Hagia Sophia is unbelievably gorgeous. Believe it or not, we still have yet to see Topkapi Palace.  Didn’t make it the first time or the second, but probably the third?

An up-close of the Hagia Sophia

The view to the left from the terrace is pure city.  Just staring at it gave me a rush of energy.

Urban sprawl.  You can see the Minarett to the left where daily prayers are echoed throughout the city.

The first couple of nights we stayed in the pink apartment you see here.  We were literally next to a Minarett which woke us up at 5 am.  It was actually kind of nice.

Galata Tower at sunset

This is Galata Square which is filled with cute cafe’s, restaurants, and boutiques.  Galata has become a trendy neighborhood in the past three years and is quickly growing.  Cobblestone streets add to the charm as do the many independent boutiques that are popping up.

Istanbul, in general, has so much history as seen in the buildings.  It’s got the European vibe, but in a different way.  It stands out all on its own.

My hub hanging out

The coolest winding stairway ever.

Dano & Ayse actually did a wedding photo shoot here.

A stroll around the hood

Dano & Ayse!

I have enough photos of cats for one blog post.  Stay tuned.  Cats are loved in Turkey.  There are many street cats but they are well taken care of.  This mama lived below Dano and Ayse’s apartment.

And this is her baby.   A little piece of me died every time I saw her.  Cutest. thing. ever.  And a feisty little one.

Ayse’s mom, Moizzes, was in town for the wedding from Cesme.  She insisted on feeding Darryl and I every time we went to Ayse and Dano’s apartment.  Firstly, let me just say that Turkey won me over the first time I visited with two of the things I love most in life: cats and chai.  Cats are everywhere and you drink chai with everything, nearly every minute of the day.  Here is a delicious Mediterranean breakfast prepared by Moizzes, complete with chai.  Cold peapods, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes with olive oil and salt, sheep’s milk cheese, delicious bread, honey, and jam.

Along the streets you can grab a glass of freshly squeezed OJ and pomegranate juice.  Wow.

More to come!