rainbow balloon street

 

Where to start? Another year older and another year living in Istanbul! I’ll try to accurately share my perfect and best birthday celebration yet, because it truly turned out to be a magical, colorful day!

 

BIRTHDAY GIFTS
Umut had flown to NY, which meant he was headed back to Istanbul ON my birthday with a suitcase full of gifts from my family and friends. Not only were they the most thoughtful and most wonderful gifts, but you don’t realize what items you’d really miss until you’re abroad. Because I opened up the overstuffed suitcase like an excited child on Christmas morning, this is a snippet of what we received and the only photo I can share, with no art direction. I think it’s safe to say none of these items exist here, and they’re all things I’ve missed and enjoy!

 

gifts from america

 

I received this beautiful handmade card form my sister and LOVED IT! For those who don’t personally know me, that’s a photo of our beloved dog Happy, we like to use his face in lieu of the word ‘happy’. (Enjoy and make it a super happy one).

 

homemade birthday card

 

Part of an annual tradition in my hometown in NY, every year on St. Patty’s Day (March 17 – the day before my birthday), the local bagel bakery dyes the bagels green! Since moving to Istanbul, leaving bagels for simit has been quite a challenge, so this was a real birthday treat!

 

st pattys day bagels
Pictured above are everything, pumpernickel and plain (dyed green – not moldy) bagels.

 

Also I will note, a lot of these gifts were a first for Turks: craft beer, jelly beans, Girl Scout cookies and bagels. Some were appreciated more than others, jelly beans tasted like soap and I had to try to explain the concept of Girl Scout cookies, but I will say it was a tie between Thin Mints and Tagalongs!

 

OUR AFTERNOON RETREAT
Since it was finally a clear day with beautiful weather, Umut, Laurel and I took a trip to the European side. Laurel is a fellow expat living in Istanbul, who blogs about her expat and life adventures on Laurel’s 3D Adventures. Since Umut had never been to Süleymaniye Mosque and Laurel had never drank boza – it was an obvious choice what we had to do!

 

VISITING SÜLEYMANIYE MOSQUE
I had already visited the Süleymaniye Mosque before, but Istanbul’s beauty never gets old. This time I spent more time walking the grounds and enjoying the views, so it was just as impressive, beautiful and enjoyable as my last visit.

 

outside suleymaniye mosque

 

view from suleymaniye mosque
Looking straight ahead you can see the Golden Horn (on the left) and the Bosphorus (on the right) divided by the Galata Bridge. The Galata Tower can be spotted straight ahead peaking through the skyline and the Bosphorus Bridge is faint in the distance.

 

interior detail mosque

 

DRINKING BOZA
About a ten minute walk downhill from the Süleymaniye Mosque is Vefa Bozacısı. Like I said, a first for Laurel, and a treat for Umut since he’s never drank fresh boza at THE boza place in Istanbul.

 

boza at vefabozacisi
Umut excited to top our boza with leblebi (freshly roasted chickpeas).

 

drinking boza at vefabozacisi
Laurel and I enjoying our afternoon birthday boza treat!

 

After we finished our boza we started to head towards the ferry, and stumbled upon this beautiful, colorful street! (The photo at the top of the post is from there). We headed back to the Asian side and met up with friends throughout the afternoon and evening. Making it just an all-around great day with great people, food and adventure!

 

homemade raki meal

 

The following day, due to an unexpected turn of events, because sometimes this world we live in is mad, we had to cancel our dinner plans. My beautiful friend Hande, however rose to the occasion and prepared a home-cooked raki meal for our friends nearby to enjoy. Eline sağlık! (This is a Turkish phrase commonly used when someone has cooked for you, it literally translates to ‘health to your hands’. Although it can actually be used when you’ve done anything impressive with your hands). Everything pictured above are true Turkish meze dishes and all were delicious!

I’m a very fortunate lady to have been so blessed to be loved by so many near and far on my 28th birthday!