Category Archives: Travels

The Flu

I was hoping to be able to post this week about advancements since our return from Turkey. Unfortunately, I came down with the flu earlier this week. I hope to be able to post some new content next week after I am able to look through our press pack from the Pera Palace. 

 

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Check out the Writers’ Blog

While Nick and I were busy exploring Istanbul the writers have created a blog to document their progress. Check out Orient Express Writers to get the latest updates!

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Home Again

Check out at our hotel in Istanbul was at 11:00am. Unfortunately, Nick and I slept in until 10:59. Oops! Luckily the staff at Med Cesir is really nice, and we were given an extra few minutes to finish packing.

I had received a note from Mark Morrison about the Istanbul Photography Museum, which he heard about from Steff Worthington, a cartographer who will be creating maps for Horror on the Orient Expressfrom a tip on yog-sothoth.com.

While the descriptions for the old photographs were limited (the accompanying blurbs were biographies of the photographer), the museum was really interesting. We saw photographs of Istanbul’s history, fantastic photos of Cuba by a Turkish photographer, and photographs of artificial landscapes.

After many more hours of travel we are home again. I have been reunited with Jack and Spike, two of Chaosium’s four security officers, and am trying to acclimate to this time zone. I will post again on here, and share in more detail our findings from Istanbul.

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Jack the security guard takes a nap.

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Istanbul Food Tour

Today we woke up early and walked the half mile (maybe more?) to the Spice Bazaar. We managed to only slip a few times on the cold wet sidewalk.

We got to Hamdi Restaurant, where we were told to meet our guide, right at 9 am. We looked around at the various workers, the guys lighting fires, the guys sweeping the snow off the sidewalk…our guide was nowhere in sight. My heart sank. We’ve been had! We’ve been swindled! We’ve been bamboozled! I thought. I double checked the printout of our reservation, finally realizing that it said the tour starts at 9:30. I let out a sigh of relief.

Our guide showed up just barely after 9:30, but the stubble-faced man in a beanie looked nothing like the short blonde woman the tour office supplied us with.

“Sorry for the last minute change,” G said, “Jen called in sick. But you’re in luck, I’m the only real Turkish guide that works at Istanbul Eats.”

We grazed on pistachios and walnuts encased in a thick chewy casing while G told us about the provinces the various nuts came from. We sampled olives, preserved in ripe plumbs, and gazed at the wonderful sight of preserved meat hanging from the ceilings of the many stalls. We stopped by a mobile breakfast vendor, and G picked up something to try later.

We winded through the market, finally sitting down on plastic stools around a small table. Newspaper was spread out as a tablecloth, and G unwrapped cheese, olives, semit (a bagel-like bread covered in sesame seeds), cured meat, and a buffalo-milk cheesy-yogurty thing drenched in honey (the name of it escapes me right now). It was delicious. My favorite item being the buffalo-milk sweet thing.

From there we ventured to a baklava stand, then a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we got a lentil soup. Pida was next, which is basically a Turkish pizza. The heat from the wood oven slightly warmed our almost-numb hands.

The Turkish delight shop was a treat, and we sampled many kinds of the iconic candy. We carefully climbed a small hill, where we had boza, a fermented wheat drink. To make the drink more tasty, you traditionally add roasted chickpeas to it. While it was delicious, we couldn’t finish our small cup of it.

The cold meatballs were very good, and had quite a kick to them ass well. They are traditionally made with raw meat, but not many places sell them that way now, as it would pose a health risk.

Lastly, we sat down at a restaurant by the roman aqueducts, where we had a rice/chicken dish traditionally served at weddings, pit-roasted lamb, and a light salad. To top it off, they served a shredded wheat dessert.

We discovered, as we stuffed the last few bits of food into our already-packed stomachs, that G, our guide, is a gamer! While he mostly plays other games, he has heard of Chaosium and told us to contact him if we have any questions about turkey.

The one real day we planned for non-work purposes, and we made a professional contact in Turkey! G was a great guide, who told us loads about local customs, the history of the food, and about Turkish politics. There was so much information, it is impossible to write it all down here, But, if you make it to Istanbul, definitely check out Istanbul Eats food tours! And to think, if our original guide had not been sick, it would have been so different!

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Olive stand.

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Dried fruits and veggies.

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Meat parts.

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Pickled things.

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Breakfast cart.

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Baklava. This one is called “beautiful ladies’lips”

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Lentil soup.

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Pida shop.

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Turkish delight.

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Boza.

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Meatball.

20130109-220509.jpgLamb and such.

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Pudding for Dinner

Tonight we ate pudding for dinner. Nick had chocolate with raspberry jello on top, I chose a chocolate pudding that had vanilla custard pastries hidden within its depths.

We visited the University of Istanbul today. I thought we could check there to find old pictures from the 1920s. We wandered through the snow-covered campus, asking guards along the way where the library was located. We carefully navigated down stairs, around buses, and up alleys. Finally, we stumbled upon the library, sweaty from our journey and ready for the sweet relief of warmth.

I asked the lady at the information desk if we could enter, and said we were looking for old pictures. She answered in Turkish, with a perplexed look on her face. A group of university students stood nearby. One woman asked, “do you speak German?” “Nein.” I answered, to their amusement.

We were finally allowed into the library, where a man greeted us. “I’m looking for old photos,” I said. “Oh,” he replied, “our books are all locked up. But we have the Internet.”

We left, disappointed, but laughing to ourselves. We spent an hour trying to find the library, only to be presented with the Internet.

We then meandered to the Grand Bazaar, in order to escape the blustering snow. I picked up an old stamp, and was asked many times to buy a pashmina.

We ended the night in a calligraphy shop, where I got one of my favorite quotes written out. The shop is called Hat Yazi, and the quote is from Tolkein…Not all those who wander are lost.

I like it here, in Turkey. The people are nice, the food is good, and the scenery is amazing. Tomorrow will be our last day, and we have planned our one big work-free day (though maybe we will snag some good stories), and will be taking a 6-hour-long food tour of the old city. I can’t wait.

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Me at the University.

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Even in Turkey I cannot help but take pictures of dogs. I may be going through dog withdrawal.

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This is a type of roasted nut that is sold everywhere. I did not like it.

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The university.

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Pudding for dinner.

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The Blue Mosque in the snow.

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The calligraphy.

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Pera Palace

It is snowing. Nick and I attempted to stay warm and dry as we made the 30 minute walk across the Galata Bridge. My hands nearly froze, and the hood of Nick’s raincoat was not very cooperative. W are California wusses when it comes to the cold. Nevertheless, it was nice to see Istanbul in the snow.

We took the elevator up the Galata Tower, hiked up the winding stairs, and walked around the observation deck at the top of the tower. Even with the thick fog, the view was quite good. The Galata Tower was built in 1348. During the reign of Murad IV (1612 – 1640), an early aviator named Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi flew with artificial wings from the tower over the Bospherous to the slopes of Uskudar, nearly 6 kilometers away. Murad was delighted by the flight, and almost gave Hezarfen a reward but then changed his mind. Instead, Hezarfen was exiled to Algeria, as he was seen as a threat. Bum deal.

After reveling in that delightful tale, we headed to the Pera Palace, where we met with Suzan, the head of marketing. There we took a small tour, saw the original silverware and dining sets, and managed to pick up a press kit. We are excited and can’t wait to watch the documentary that is included. Suzan told us that much of the decor is original, from the stained glass windows in the bar, to the light fixtures. (We think they have probably gotten new bed sheets and towels since then.)

The Pera Palace was quite a delight, and we will share photos as soon as we have access to a real computer!

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Press kit from the Pera Palace

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View of the Galata Tower from below

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Winding stairs in the Galata Tower

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Poor cold Californian

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Remember the post about cats jumping in tourists’ bags…here’s proof! Silly kitten.

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Things We’ve Noticed

We have noticed that there seems to be a fine line between sidewalk and street. Drivers don’t hesitate to simply hop the curb, whether or not pedestrians are currently occupying the sidewalk.

Drivers like to go in reverse. Why? Who knows.

Sultanahmet park is also just a dog park. At night the strays chase each other and generally just seem to have an awesome time being a dog.

It’s pretty sweet being a stray cat in Istanbul. They’re well-fed, get lots of attention, and get to hop in unsuspecting tourists’ bags.

Now here are some photos from today’s adventures!

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Nick before we ventured into the Archaeology Museum

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Me, trying to stay warm.

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Could those be Cthulhu’s tentacles, coming up to snatch the cultists?

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This guy looks like he just lost some sanity by witnessing a gruesome scene!

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I think deep ones must dwell in the Basilica Cisterns. Strange medusa heads can be found in the depths. Luckily we didn’t turn to stone…at least…not yet!

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