Happy Spring! Istanbul in the Spring is much nicer than Istanbul in the winter, as expected. It's a rainy Saturday morning here, and as per my usual routine in the US, I am at a coffee shop.
Easter egg dyeing and candy-eating was a success (I will put up pictures of our masterpiece eggs on Facebook soon!). On Easter evening, I went back to the Irish pub session with a friend, and brought my recorder this time. I only knew one or two songs, and played pretty terribly, but I still had a lot of fun and ended up staying for three hours. I went back again last week and played a little bit more, and I'm planning on making a habit of it. Sessions are awesome! Unfortunately, it seems the girls in the apartment next to mine aren't so happy with me practicing recorder, though… makes me miss the music facilities at school back home.
Last week I met up with my dad one last time, for a nice lunch (my last expensive meal for a while), and meeting some of his friends. We also stopped by the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market to buy orchid root powder--the main ingredient in what has become one of my favorite winter drinks here. It's called sahlep, and sweet and creamy and a perfect treat from a street-vendor on a chilly day. Now that it's warm I'm not drinking much sahlep, but now I can make it for myself next winter in the US :).
I don't remember much else of what I did last week; all of a sudden schoolwork has started to keep me a bit busy!
On Friday, my roommates and I went back to Ortaköy--one of my favorite spots in Istanbul. We strolled around, did a little shopping, and had our requisite kumpir (stuffed baked potatoes) and tavla (backgammon).
Sunday was a wonderful day—my program organized a trip to Büyükada, one of the "Prince's Islands" that is about an hour and a half away from my area of Istanbul by ferry. The Islands reminded me a bit of Martha's Vineyard or the cape, with lots of cute little shops, restaurants, and summer homes. Apparently Trotsky spent some time there, too… We rented bikes and rode up to the top of the Island, where we visited a monastery and had a nice lunch outside. It was a wonderful break from city life—especially since the only vehicles on the island are bikes and (semi-vicious) horse-drawn carriages. After a nice big cone of ice cream, we headed home on the ferry, and I went back to the Irish pub for some more jamming.
This week has been spent mostly on working on my independent project and studying for the two midterms I had yesterday—Turkish and Politics of Nationalism. Turkish was mostly reading comprehension, so it was pretty difficult, but not too bad (and I'm taking that class pass/fail…). I studied a lot for Politics of Nationalism, so that wasn't bad either--plus, I have the advantage of being a native English speaker, unlike the rest of the class… I'm so amazed that all the Turkish students manage to do their university studies in English!
Yesterday afternoon I lazed around, and have similar plans for today, unless the rains let up. I've been dreaming of going on a picnic…. :)