Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What's "UP" in Istanbul/4... an ongoing series

Dear readers,

Welcome to Part 4 of my ongoing series on What's "UP" in Istanbul!

The biggest Whats's "UP" news for readers who don't live in Istanbul is SNOW! For the past week, we have had snow on and off in the city, however, since yesterday, it hasn't stopped snowing!

view from my apartment (today) - the Bosphorus Bridge has disappeared!

A night shot from my apartment - taken last week during a previous snow storm
 It is still snowing quite heavily as I prepare this blog today (Tuesday, January 31) at about 1:45pm local time...

I have pretty much been homebound for the last few days... except for my daily morning and night walks with Luka, my 15 month-old Maltese...

with Luka (yesterday morning)
The little guy loves going out (I probably have something to do with that!) and doesn't care what the weather is like! And... let me tell you, besides the snow, according to news reports - yesterday was the coldest day in Istanbul (the temp was -8 celsius or 17,6 fahrenheit) in the past 33 years! If you want to meet him up close and personal (I always have to give him a plug in each post, otherwise, he get's upset)... visit his blog : http://lollifeofluka.blogspot.com for some fun reading about a Maltese's life in Istanbul!

Although the major roads are pretty clear, it's not fun trekking out in this weather so I prefer to stay warm and snug at home. Just to give you an idea how bad the weather is: some ferryboat services that run along the Bosphorus from the European side to the Asian side (and vice versa) were cancelled; the Municipality of Istanbul added about 350 additional buses and the frequency of the metro was increased; some businesses let their employees go home earlier; and 82 local and 108 international flights were cancelled yesterday!

According to the weather reports... we have a couple more days of heavy snow!



Celebrating their 100th anniversary, Abdi Ibrahim, a major pharmaceutical company, is the sponsor of a "digital" art exhibition titled "Van Gogh Alive".
(from Abdi Ibrahim's website)
The exhibit was organized by combining 40 high-resolution projectors into a multi-projection system where you can view crystal clear images of Van Gogh's artwork created in the last 10 years of his life.

Also over 3,000 of Van Gogh's visuals cover the giant screens, walls, columns, floor and ceiling of the exhibition space.
The exhibition will be on display from February 10 to May 15th at the Antrepo 3, on the waterfront in Tophane/Karaköy (next to the Istanbul Modern Museum) and then the same exhibit will be on display at the Cer Modern Museum in Ankara from October 15 to December 30, 2012.
In cooperation with Pera Film, Argentina Embassy in Ankara, Istanbul Cervantes Institute and INCAA (Argentina Film Board), the Pera Museum will be hosting the "Argentina Cinema and Football" film festival between February 4 and February 29. A total of 5 films - 4 documentary and one fiction will be screened. 
Loving Maradona

FIFA 2010 World Cup
The film titles are: "Loving Maradona" (Feb. 4 - 2:00pm; Feb. 17 - 7:00pm); "Argentina and its Football Factory (Feb. 5 - 2:00pm; Feb. 19 - 4:00pm); "The Road to San Diego" (Feb. 15 - 7:00pm; Feb. 29 - 7:00pm); "World Cup 78: A Parallel Story (Feb. 18 - 2:00pm; Feb. 26 - 2:00pm); "Argentina Football Club" (Feb. 19 - 2:00pm; Feb. 26  - 4:00pm).
All films are in Spanish with Turkish subtitles and they will be screened at the museum's auditorium.

For detailed information and ticket prices: www.peramuzesi.org.tr
A new prospective on "Turkish Delights"...

Turkish delights - called lokum in Turkish are true "delights". They come in a whole host of flavors and are prepared plain, with a variety of nuts or with fruity flavors. Originally, they were prepared with honey and molasses and water and flour were the binding agents. Today, the basic ingredients of the chewy lokum is starch jell and sugar!
photo taken at @ Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir Confectionary on Istiklal Street - Beyoğlu
These scrumptious delights are cubes that come in a variety of sizes (small, medium and large) and you can buy them pre-packaged or from the open display at confectionary shops like Hacı Bekir, which was founded in 1776. In fact, Bekir Efendi invented lokum!
Now... besides the "traditional" lokum, how would you like to taste Turkish Delight Rolls?
Turkish Delight rolls
 Yup... you read correctly... Turkish Delight rolls! They come in a whole host of flavors: orange, lemon and tangerine from the citrus family and cloves, cinnamon and ginger from the spices family.

Each comes in a spiffy handcrafted black box - embroidered with the logo of the restaurant that created them - hold on... I will be disclosing who it is later on!) that can hold up to 27 pieces (260 grams). Each box is filled with 3 black envelopes containing 9 pieces of these delectable delights that are all hand-rolled in a layer of crispy thin phyllo pastry.
Hand rolled Turkish delights in phyllo pastry
The Turkish Delights rolls are all handmade and most importantly, they are prepared with all natural products with no additives or preservatives.
Well... I had a chance to taste these wonderful morsels yesterday (yes... in a snowstorm, my buddies from the fine dining restaurant - who I have known for years!) sent me a box of the orange flavored Turkish Delights rolls!

In all honesty - THEY ARE DELICIOUS... and in fact, I threw another one in my mouth right as I'm writing this!!! It's obvious it's not going to take me long to finish the whole box! Did I mention I'm not a "diet" to gain weight lately and if I don't stop myself... I will turn into something I won't want to look at in the mirror!
So, who are the brains and innovators behind these delectable treats?

Well... a picture is worth a thousand words... and you see the answer in the image above!

You can purchase these delights directly from Changa.. each box is 60 TL and a great gift idea! If you plan on ordering several or more boxes, it might take a couple of days to fill your order. The life of each box of goodies is 30 days from the date stamped on the back of the box. Since, they are very delicate, the treats aren't suitable for sending via mail.
Located in a 100+ year old Art Nouveau historic building on Sıraselviler Street in Taksim, Changa (www.changa-istanbul.com) is a fine dining establishment with an eclectic decor and including some of the most innovative dishes on their menu (changes according to season and there is a tasting menu too)!
The 4-story Changa, which means "mix" in Swahili opened in 1999 and prepares its menu under the consultancy and supervision of renowned New Zealand born and UK based chef Peter Gordon. Only open for dinner, Changa interprets Turkish dishes with Mr. Gordon's highly acclaimed style to create a fusion of flavors!
Changa (from Changa's website)
The restaurant can accommodate up to 90 people and the bar up to 40 patrons. There is also a Private Dining Room which can hold up to 30 guests (minimum of 12).
Changa Bar (from Changa's website)
Changa has won numerous local and international awards and is a real treat! Besides Changa (which is closed during the summer months), their sister eatery muzedechanga (open year round) is located at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum in Emirgan with indoor and outdoor seating and a superb view of the museum's gardens and Bosphorus. Finally Changa has a catering service too.
muzedechanga (from their website)

muzedechanga (from their website)
For more info, you can visit their website (which includes their menu), but more importantly, treat yourself to a wonderful dinner at Changa or lunch or dinner at muzedechange.. Don't forget to make reservations! (Sıraselviler Caddesi No. 47; Tel: (0212) 251 70 64)

Folks in our neck of the woods are very BIG on olive oil - especially those living in the Marmara, Mediterrean and Aegean regions of Turkey!

There are many many brands of olive oil that you can buy at the supermarket or specialty stores throughout the city.
Laleli is an olive oil brand I "discovered" when they opened a shop in Bebek. We were preparing an article on the neighborhood for The Guide Istanbul (read my bio for details) and Laleli was fairly new to the neighborhood then and we did a photo shoot at this quaint shop. I took the picture below a couple of months ago when I was in Bebek...
I have been purchasing olive oil from Laleli ever since! They have a wide selection of olives oils - in different sizes and flavors. The prices are higher than supermarket brands, but well worth it! Besides olive oil, Laleli also sells olives, soaps, body and hair oils and vinegar.

For detailed informaton on Laleli Olive Oils, I highly recommend that you visit their websie at (www.zeytinim.com). It is chock full of information on the subject and there are also recipes (website is in English and Turkish).

Laleli olive oils are definitey topnotch and besides their shop in bebek, they have a branch in Ankara and their factory is in Balıkesir. Additionally, their products are available at shops (addresses in website) in California (USA), Munich, etc. (Germany), Melingen (Switzerland), Malaysia and Tokyo, Japan.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Lalei for sending me a lovely supply of olive oils, vinegar and organiz olives for New Year's! I've already finished the olives, so I have to make a trip to Laleli in bebek soon to pick up a new supply! (Cevdetpaşa Caddesi No. 46/D Bebek; Tel: (0212) 265 66 17)


New Hair Salon...

I don't know about you, but I'm very finicky when it comes to hairdressers! By "finicky" I'm not just talking about the "look" of the Hair Salon and prices, but also my hairdresser! Suffice to say, I have been going to the same Hair Slon and hairdresser for the last 9 years and won't allow anyone but Metin to color or cut my hair! However, least year - around this time - Metin, once a partner at a Hair Salon in Levent - opened a new shop far far away! I was devastated, but was happy that he would continue catering to a few "steady" customers  like me by coming to a friend's Hair Salon in Levent once a week (Tuesday).

But, I go to a hairdresser three times a week to get a blow dry and I wasn't happy with Metin's friend styling of my hair! Although I have straight hair (with a bit of a wave), it is a pain in the neck to blow dry because it's very fine...

Anway... to make a long story short. I was "rescued" from my dilemma about a month ago when New Look opened - steps from my mom's house in Levent!

Altan Erçetin, the owner of New Look, used to be a hair stylist at Metin's old shop. He has now branched out and opened a lovely and sparkling clean small Hair Salon on Aytar Caddesi in Levent... It is conveniently locaed a few buildings down after you enter the "Etiler" road from Büyükdere Street in Zincirlikuyu and on the right hand side of the street.
New Look Hair Salon

Altan is a very good hair stylist and does a WONDERFUL job in blowing out my hair, so I'm very happy now. And, since his shop is a "neighborhood" Hair Salon, he doesn't charge outrageous prices like some of the "trendy" multi-branch Hair Salons! To be quite frank, I refuse to pay 25 TL or more just to have my hair blown out!

Besides Altan, there is another hair stylist and a manicurist (I had Nilgün do my nails the other day and she is quite good too!). Waxing services are also offered.

So, if you are in the market for a medium priced Hair Salon in Levent, I recommend that you try New Look! The staff do not speak English, but they use "google translator" to assist them! (Aytar Caddesi No. 12/B, 1. Levent; Tel: (0212) 280 19 79)

  •  According to information released by TÜIK (Turkish Statistical Institute), as of the end of 2011, the population of Turkey increased by 1.35% and is now 74,724,269. 50.2% of the population is men and 49.8% is women. The population in 56 provinces increased, and decreased in 25 provinces. Just to give you some numbers by province, the population of Istanbul is 13,624,240; Ankara 4,890,893; and Izmir 3,965,232.
  • The number of tourists visiting Turkey is also on the rise. According to a report released recently by the Ministry of Tourism, approximately 31.5 million people visited Turkey in 2011 - up from 28.6 million in 2010 (up by 9.8%). If we look at it by country, the top 3 are from France (up 22.84%) at 1,140 million (vs 928,000 in 2010); the USA (up 17.79%) at 757,000 (vs 642,000 in 2010) and Holland (up 13.96%) at 1,222,000 (up from 1,073,000 in 2010).
I started writing this at around 1:45pm and it is now 7:15pm! I did take a couple of breaks to have a late lunch, talk on the phone and walk Luka and also put out some food for the stray dogs and cats living on the streets who are having a difficult time finding food due to the heavy snowfall.

I just looked out the window and the snow has subsided for now, but I'm sure it will start up again soon.

And... if you are enjoying reading my blog posts, why not sign up to receive email notifications (top right hand corner on blog main page). This way, you won't miss a post!

Good night!



  1. Hi Dani,
    I discovered your blog last month and I find it entertaining, interesting, informative and delightful. I loose myself in it. I have been to Istanbul four times and will be visiting this year.
    Keep warm and enjoy the snow with Luca.
    I wish you a nice February!

  2. Hi Martha,

    thank you for your lovely comment! I'm happy that you are enjoying my posts...just sign up to get alerts via email so this way you won't miss a post! Enjoy your next visit to Istanbul! Dani