the sultan’s seduction: a layover in Istanbul.

The sommelier and I woke early for our stay in Babylon, climbing into a famous black cab for the short drive to Heathrow. Over the past few weeks we had spent more time together than since we’ve met, and it showed in our renewed love for each other, subtle touch and glances, and our increased capacity for the individualities that define us.


After a short flight to Paris, and the innocuous passport control of France, we made our way through a detailed maze of escalators to our departure gate.


A three hour flight to Turkey, and we arrived in Constantinople…


Checking in to a modern hotel, provided by Turkish airlines due to a forced layover, we took advantage of the long, hot, steamy shower our room provided.


Since our night was becoming increasingly shorter, we hired a cab to Sultanahmet right away, and give in to the seductions of this ancient land.

Stone walls of the old city stood crumbling on the side of the ocean drive, surrounded by row houses, twinkle lighted restaurants, and sounds of beeping taxis.


After avoiding scammers in the palace square, we began to hear the lyrical calls to prayer, and immediately knew we were in a different world. One where time stops at several intervals a day, all citizens know the direction of East, and life moves slow, but at a bright pace.


The intricate details of the Blue Mosque painted memories in my soul; inlays of gold circling my senses and arousing my mind.


Dusk began to fade as we walked the short distance to Hagia Sofia. Enamored by her beauty, we stopped and stared at the pink hues of the now secularist museum. Having had so many lovers, from Orthodox to Catholic to Islam, it was easy to see why, as her seductive tones become less muted as the sky fell.


Wandering through the streets, we found ourselves in front of a delicate eatery, where we dined on fresh Mediterranean catch, turkish meatballs, and cheese pastries.


The most divine baklava in the history of the world adorned our plates, drops of honey slowly streaming down our fingers, before being cleaned by our warm lips.


Strolling back to the main plaza, we again caught sight of the Blue Mosque. Opposite Sofia, the grandeur of the thick walls of the former sultan’s palace displayed strength and veracity, a masculinity of force and will. Standing between the two ancient relics, it was easy to surmise why the people of the land had such depth in character.


Fingers intertwined, we tackled traffic back to our hotel, and slept well for our trip back home. Dreams of sultans invaded our minds. We awoke with anxiety and urgency to see our daughter. After all, reality was knocking on our door.

Until tomorrow… Serefe.



on castles, class, and feeling like first class: a day in Windsor.

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of castles. Not in the typical princess variety, but of the dark corners, thick stone, and applied protection behind it’s walls. Libraries, kitchens, and velvet tapestries invaded my mind. Maybe a knight or two entered my imagination, but I was never interested in Princes. I was reminded of this on our visit to Windsor. 20140525-042802-16082703.jpg Stroking through cobblestone streets, you could see the small town centre was scrubbed clean for tourists. An elitism filled the air, displayed in part by bartenders and pub owners, but also just as if we were literally breathing something not fit for common man. 20140525-043221-16341957.jpg Even vintage churches had a different class to them. 20140525-043338-16418710.jpg After a nice pub lunch , the sommelier, his family, and I walked down to the Thames, where he bribed swimming birds for our niece, Lily. The swans in the UK are now so plentiful; in Windsor it is no longer appropriate to consume, as they did in days of The Tudors. 20140525-044027-16827629.jpg We hopped on a double decker bus to see the town, mostly to save time, but also because secretly, I am a history nerd, and needed an audio tour. 20140525-044457-17097787.jpg Passing through the small city, we heard unique insight into the upper classes of England: where the princes went to college (high school), where they played football (soccer), and where daughters of duchesses go to ballet lessons. While Eton College was very grand and distinguished, my thoughts questioned the daily uniforms of ducktails and white bowties. It seemed a bit excessive until I learned they rid the “standard uniform of top hats in the 1940s.” 20140525-045032-17432170.jpg Nothing like being reminded of your insignificance in this world then seeing the looks of some of these teenagers, as you past by them on a tour bus, with your Nikon stuck to your eye. Pretty leveling. Yet, their pubs were built in the 1500s, and a statue of the queen stands in town centre, so you know… maybe wisdom is being passed through ancient walls. 20140525-045549-17749640.jpg A drive through the countryside led us past farm houses and rows of grains. The English country is exactly as I remember, with rolling green hills, sheep herds, and dairy cows. 20140525-051113-18673520.jpg After spectacular views of Windsor castle, we headed back to town. Standard black cab souvenirs and royal postcards aside, we made our way back to Reading via train with the other tourists. 20140525-051235-18755807.jpg Our time in England was coming to a close, and to celebrate our short visit, my brother-in-law roasted a lamb, complete with Yorkshire pudding and bitters. Amazingly delicious. Now this was first class. 20140525-050137-18097255.jpg The sommelier and I said our goodbyes to very loved and missed family, packed our bags, and fell asleep early to catch our flight home… but not first with a layover in Istanbul… more to come…tomorrow. Cheers.