27 December 2010

Celebrating the European Capital of Culture 2010

Istanbul (not Constantinople
was celebrated as the European Capital of Culture for 2010. 
As the city's mightiest reign since the days of the Ottoman Empire comes to a close 
and 2010 gets ready to be reborn as 2011, 
I share some of my favorite posters from 
the travel world's year long obsession is Istanbul: 

24 December 2010

çok çok mutlu noel

{12} Tiny tea cups

{11} Whirling Dervishes a'twirling

{10} Vendors hawking

{9} Cats a'begging

{8} Nargile smokers

{7} Children frolicking

{6} Au Pairs scolding

{5} Calls to prayer

{4} Secret Santas

{3} Rakı cups

{2} Shopping centers

And  asleep before midnight.

Merry Christmas and Mutlu Yıllar from İstanbul!

20 December 2010

Notes on Turkish Bidets

Author's note: this post contains potty humor and a rather graphic Victorian-era sketch. 

Bidet is the French for pony. Etymologists find that this word stems from the notion that one "rides" a bidet much like one "rides" a pony. Well, what is a bidet? And why does this post seem to be heading in a rather PG-13 direction only five sentences in?

Bidet refers to the small nozzle integrated in many modern toilets. Popularized by the "paperless toilet" launched in Japan in the 1980's, bidets are now widely used and quite popular the world over, with this gadget seeing bottoms in anywhere from the UK, to Africa, to South Korea. Bidets are standard features in most Arab countries and in all of Turkey. Yes, Turkey, where I happened upon my first bidet experience.

The time was 6pm, almost bath time. And I was, well, doing my business. Curious about the spout spouting out of the back of the toilet, and the small hose running from the bowl to a knob mounted on the wall, in about the place the toilet brush would be--if you needed a more precise location--I turn the knob. The water is freezing, but only a trickle. I turn the knob again. This is hilarious, I think, and laugh out loud. Freezing water shooting in the direction of my bottom, with the purpose of cleansing me in a way some people apparently do not think regular toilet paper can not. How can anyone be taking this seriously? I turn the knob again. Only this time, I've turned too far. My echoing laughter stops abruptly. The knob has reached it's capacity for turning, and off it falls, rolling under the toilet. The arctic water is spraying at full blast. I panic, groping blindly under the toilet bowl for the knob that I can see, but is just out of reach. I lean slightly to the right to better my chances of reaching it, and in doing so, happen to separate my knees to balance myself...and out shoots the stream of water from between my legs, clear across the  bathroom. I now have to figure out how to contort myself into a position in which I can reach the bidet knob, which I've managed to knock further behind the toilet, without opening my legs for fear of flooding the bathroom with these baptismal waters. I hurriedly glance around for any supplies that might be useful in fishing out the knob. I have only a garbage can and the toilet brush at my current disposal. I grab the toilet brush. I am now whipping the brush around beside and behind the toilet, fishing for the damn knob that is no longer just out of reach, but out of sight. I've located the knob and toilet-brush it near enough that I can grab it in hand, letting slip a few more torrents of water from behind my clenched knees in the process. I have the knob, and fumbling...still fumbling, finally screw it back on it's rightful post and end the waterfall.

18th century of ladies "mounted" on bidets (original caption)

There really is no moral to this story.

18 December 2010

The English Tutor on We Blog the World

The English Tutor is now a featured blog on We Blog the World!

Weblogtheworld.com is a site dedicated to bridging travel, culture, and ideas. Check out some of the amazingly talented authors featured on the site for guaranteed hours of vicarious daydreaming through these amazing modern explorers. http://www.weblogtheworld.com/about/

A big shout out to We Blog the World for expressing interest in my writing and adventures!

17 December 2010

Istanbul in Colours

The Bosphorus River, as seen from İstanbul Modern

An unnamed cafe in a tree lined alley where we dined on nohut (chickpeas) and pilaf (rice) and mercimek çorbası (lentil soup) for less than 3 TL.  

My favorite, favorite girlfriends in İstanbul 

Nargile (hookah) pipes

16 December 2010

Comment Malfunction

My  apologies for not replying to everyone who has been posting comments on my blog. Blogger is not receiving nor registering comments posted by readers. If you would like to leave me a comment, please feel free to email me at woodbury.susannah@gmail.com

Thanks for the love!

13 December 2010

How the locals do Italian Food

Happening upon the Rumeli Cafe one blustery day in Nişantaşı and unable to withstand the freezing winds and driving rains any longer, I duck inside. One successful attempt at asking for a menu later (menu alabilirmiyim? Can I get a menu?) and a trip up three flights of stairs to the toilet, I cozy up in my armchair to await my order of classic Italian minestrone and a caffe latte. 

Delicious spaghetti-corn-spinach soup in mystery broth.

The latte was amazing--strong, sweet espresso with a thick foam that held up throughout my entire meal. The minestrone turned out to be an awkward Turkish version made with broccoli, corn, spinach, canned mushrooms, and spaghetti noodles swimming in a savory, yet not unsatisfactory, broth whose stock came from an unidentifiable origin. Despite these momentary setbacks, it was quite an acceptable form of my ultimate comfort food. Remember the Cream of Lettuce Soup incident? Which was not a joke, but in fact a joke I believe was played upon the travelers by Delta's Business Class Elite Staff for making us all believe that cream of lettuce soup is the new avant-garde food of the moment. Again, I restate my disclaimer that I will always go for the soup...no matter what. 

12 December 2010

Visual Glimpse of the Grand Bazaar

Feeling ill and  quarantined to my room so as not to infect the rest of the household, I blog. Or rather, I post pictures. 

The Juice Man, serving up a concoction of lemon, orange, apple, something, and cinnamon.

İstanbul Üniversitesi. I want to go to school here!

Suleymaniye Mosque