Our last few days in the city were packed with crazy adventures.  It is hard for me to fully describe the epic experiences that we had.  There were so many moments when I had to step back and take it all in because I was overcome with so many beautiful, overwhelming emotions.  Everyone started to arrive and the wedding momentum was building up, with just days away until we headed to the farm in Fethiye for the big day.  Dano told us about the neighborhood of Cukurcuma in Istanbul, filled with vintage shops, antiques, charming cafes, and old vinyl.  Needless to say, we spent almost an entire two days there wandering around and shopping.  I brought back many, many things from Istanbul and Kas (the beach town we stayed in), but I’m thinking my purchases might warrant a separate post. Yes, that many things.

In Cukurcuma, you’ll find a lot of shops selling antiques from the Ottoman period as well as old sinks, fountains, artwork, jewelry, textiles, etc.

I was tempted to buy that red and white teapot.

Furniture for days

Walking around the neighborhood, I spotted my friends.

And I also spotted a random Tex-Mex cafe’.  You see, no one can deny the deliciousness of Tex-Mex.

Pete was having a full on conversation with this guy, except neither one of them knew what each was saying to one another.

Just the most delectable freshly baked breads and pastries stuffed with cheese.  No big deal.

I don’t know why, but I was surprised at how many bookshops there were selling old books.  It was awesome.

There are a brand of chips in Turkey that look exactly like Doritos and are packaged like Doritos, but they have a savory tomato flavor and are covered in sesame seeds.  I don’t normally touch anything that looks like a Dorito, but these in particular are dynamite.

I wanted one of these leather suitcases.  I have a penchant for old suitcases and a year or so ago my super fantastic mother-in-law gave me two that belonged to her mother and father.  Eventually, I’d like to add a leather one to the mix.

See all of this loveliness?  I bought all kinds of it.

I love how the light shines through these glass lamps.  I always admire these but I never bring any back because they seem to difficult to pack or carry on.

More antiquing

I was really digging this chair.

Loved the design of this building

After one of our Cukurcuma excursions, we ended up at Urban, a cool outdoor cafe’ that serves really yummy cold beer.

Dano & Pete

And then of course, a trip  across the Bosphorus to the Asian side for what had to be one the best meals I’ve ever had in my life.  But first…

Oohing and ahhing the food

I had never seen anything like this before!  Just hanging out ready to be picked up.

The fish market

Barrels of assorted olives.  Heaven.

The spice shop

Canned and marinated vegetables

Teas and soaps

So while we were waiting for our table at Ciya Sofrasi for dinner, we decided to grab some beer.  If you let your beer go incognito, you can drink on the street.  But basically we were breaking a law.  Cheers!

Even my father-in-law was in on the action

Drinking beer and browsing comics

Don’t even get me started.  I was seriously scheming in my head the best way to bring all of them home with me.  True love.

And look at this guy

Dano, Dave, and Ayse at Ciya Sofrasi.  There is a great story about Ciya in a recent issue of The New Yorker. You can read it online if you subscribe, but you can also check out the Ciya website here.  All I can say is, I’ve never experienced the kinds of flavors that hit my palette that evening.  It was magic.

This was the dessert plate.  Figs, apricots, honey, various other fruits, and a sweet cheese that melted in my mouth.  After dessert, a shot glass of fruit and vegetable juice was served to aid in digestion.

Cute.

Dinner…

And eventually music + dancing

Dano & Ayse

My lovely mother-in-law and Ayse’s mom, Moizzes

So after another big meal, I decided I wanted to snack on my favorite street food — fried mussels on a stick.  So delicious.

And that was all followed by lots of beer with our crew.  Hilarious beer tower.

Dano’s amazing friends, Kaan and Alex

Alex is the ultimate bartender

And I learned a thing or two about drinks from him.  Most importantly, how to drink a Tabula Rasa which is my new favorite cocktail.  Orange + chocolate = HAPPY.