Friday, July 20, 2018

Staying in Venice and Istanbul

 Hello my friends.  Sorry I've not posted in a long time but I just returned home from Turkey this week.
My husband and I spent three weeks at our home in Turkey before the rest of the family joined us to continue the vacation.  I've come to the conclusion that our family "travels" as their hobby.  The photo above was taken at a wine tasting we enjoyed in Greece.

We enjoyed our time in the south of Turkey before venturing off for rest of the vacation.

Our first stop was Venice.  It was my third visit to this amazing city but this time I had the pleasure to stay three nights in this magical place.

My daughter rented two different apartments for the family and we stayed in this unique place where we had our own private courtyard.  It had been completely renovated and was very modern and comfortable but I missed the old world charm a bit. 

Venice is an interesting city.  The population now is around 55,000 residents; it used to be close to 175,000.  As the people have left, the homes have been bought up by investors who can rent them at a high rate of rent. Thereby, the average, younger Venetian cannot afford to live in Venice anymore.  It's a very sad case. Also, many Venetians are against the cruise ships coming into their city.  I totally agree with them.  Cruise ships can ruin the unique atmosphere of a place.

The apartment my daughter and her family stayed in was a perfectly styled Italian apartment with Venetian glass chandeliers.  It overlooked a canal and the light that came into the room was amazing.

Here's the beautiful hallway with the wood floors and a wall of framed handpainted watercolors.

I'm hoping to recreate one of these watercolors. . .

On our last night in Venice we had a family dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant.  It was in a square but there was a private courtyard behind.  We had spied this place a day earlier when the waiter told us about the menu.  The waiter from the restaurant next door saw us and told us "You don't want to eat there - it's owned by Pakistani's and is not Italian food".  My husband was shocked and told him "I'm Pakistani".  He isn't but that wasn't the point. Later that day, we went to lunch at this restaurant and it was the best Italian food I've ever had.  The owner is Italian but all the servers are from Bangladesh.  They were so kind to us and offered superb customer service.

  Hence, the last night in Venice we returned to the same place for dinner with all the family.  I didn't realize until later that Rome and surrounding areas of Italy has the second highest population of Bangladesh immigrants outside of London.  They are an integral part of Venice and I admire their ability to learn a new language and adjust to a different cullture.

We left Venice on a cruise and upon our return, we took a flight back to Istanbul.  I love this city, too.  

Again, my daughter had booked two different homes for us to stay in the area of Balat/Fener.  This area is off the Golden Horn and is the old Greek and Jewish part of the city.  Of course, now the demographics have changed.

At first look, the neighborhood can look a little rough in parts but it was quite charming and we felt safe too.  They were putting in new streets with beautiful pavers.
The home we stayed in was actually five floors; the bottom floor being a separate studio apartment.  It had been completed renovated to a classic style with beautiful period furnishings.

One of the unique features was this stunning, original wooden ceiling.

And, the stairwell continued to wind up each floor. Our Greek friend, Dmitra, joined us in Istanbul and told us about the Greek community of Turkey from the turn of the century who would have lived in these kind of homes.  They were well off merchants and other successful traders.  After World War I, many of them returned to Greece where they were thought of as a kind of aristocracy among the other Greeks.  Many  more left in the 1970's over the issues with Cyprus.  

The neighborhood is transitioning and becoming a very artsy area.  There were some lovely little cafes a few steps away where they served their style of "Turkish breakfast".

From the top floor balcony, we had a great view of Phanar Greek Othodox College.  It was built by an Ottoman Greek architect beginning in 1881.  The red tower is a well known landmark.

Also nearby, is the  Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople where the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I resides.  

It was an enjoyable time to be with the family.  However, it's always good to return home and get back to my routine.  Lilly was patiently waiting at the door for us when we arrived Tuesday night.

I hope you are enjoying your summer.  It's been unusually hot and humid here for this week but our normal, dry, hot weather is expected to return on Monday.

My best wishes to you,