Who am I?

My photo
25, photography lover, messy writer, philologist, passionate cook, avid traveller.

Friday, 12 December 2014



That time of the year has come, where we should all get the red and green decorations out - as well as a pen and a piece of paper to make the endless list of presents, brainstorming for the perfect Christmas dinner and getting together for the 24th and 25th of December.

Ever since I was a kid, Christmas was like the best day ever. Tradition (at home) stated that one afternoon at the beginning of December would be entirely dedicated to decorating the house with the Christmas tree and baby Jesus' manger. From the 16th of December, a different household would organise their own novena night to then feast with tons of Colombian treats. And on Christmas Eve (the actual Christmas Day for us), we would gather around the house of the elders of the family, have our Christmas turkey and wait until midnight to open the presents.

Buñuelos, natilla, novena, pavo... Oh, I miss it.

When the time came to fly to Europe, I spent my holidays with my family in England, where Christmas Eve was all about making mulled wine, listening to Christmas carols and impatiently looking at the tree full of presents. Christmas Days usually came with the best dinners ever, family reunions and a warm heart. Cold winters, family days and dessert overdose.

This year, however, will be totally different, as I will spend my first Christmas in Turkey (and hopefully not the last!). Having my parents over will give more of a home-y touch to it, and we are already planning and scrutinizing our Christmas dinner. This year, no turkey, novena or jolly villancicos, but the pleasure of having a little Christmas tree at home, decorating the office with handcrafted festive Christmas drawings and *maybe* having a Secret Santa at work.

I am truly looking forward to seeing how the 25th of December will be nothing more than a normal day, to learning how to say 'Merry Christmas' in Turkish and to wearing my Father Christmas' slippers to go to my classes on Christmas Eve. Gotta get the spirit going... 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Around Antalya.

It's happened again...

A whooole month-ish has passed since I last wrote on my blog.


It didn't slip out of my mind, though. Every time I was randomly walking on the streets, discovering one and other new thing (for me, at least...), writing about it was the first thing I tought of. Sadly for me, it all quite used to end up there. In my head.

(Pretty much like eeeverything else I write.)

So, back to the start... A month has passed since I last wrote something, and three months had passed since I came to Turkey. Woah. Where did time go? I still remember pretty well that emptiness on the stomach the minute I left Lyon, not knowing exactly what adventures the future would bring. I still remember that first lokum I had on the plane (and last, since I didn't like it...), and how blue the sky looked when landing in Istanbul. Looking back at all of those things, it's hard to realize it all happened three months ago. I suppose having a busy lifestyle and dedicating weekends to wander around and getting lost is quite fun and entertaining.

Last month, I had a few visitors over, which helped me air my head a bit and spend some of my evenings and free time doing something else apart from preparing lessons and... preparing lessons. A friend from Lyon came to visit for a week and my uncle and aunt flew all the way from rainy England to stay with me for another week. Unfortunately, I didn't have much time off work, but I did spend the weekends with them, visiting the city, hiding from the rain at cosy coffee shops, dealing with Turkish merchants and driving around some of the historical places in the region. We therefore had plenty of time to visit Antalya, its city centre (which I hadn't properly seen before, so it was a first for me too!), and a few of the surroundings. 

 (One of our pit stops for Cappuccino with Chocolate & Cherry cake)
The first stop was Markantalya, a huge, new shopping centre in the Tahılpazarı neighbour. When taking what might be one of the busiest pedestrian streets in town, we can go all the way down to the clock tower, where a big square is surrounded by typical döner restaurants and several hidden entrances to several hidden bazaar shops, and where the tramway makes one of its multiple stops. Once there, all the signs lead to Kaleiçi and the old harbour, so the choice resides in going down the stoned, still pedestrian streets or taking the seaside walk, arriving to a vaste Tophane Parkı, where, needless to say, the view is gigantic. The sky, along with the sea – calm, ready to pose, both offer a very picturesque portrait; and the copper-coloured house roofs with their palm trees simply make the perfect snapshot.


(My eye was also caught by all of the Çay Bahçesi (or Tea Garden) spots along the sea view, where passers-by, families and visitors can stop for a cup of tea and a snack). 

When going down to the harbour (Yat Limanı), the streets are slightly steep and the houses still have their old, colonial appearance. Which, once again, reminded me of La Candelaria, the old part of Bogotá. I shouldn't compare, really. Kaleiçi's streets are home to several spices, jewellery, handcrafted purses and scarves’ local merchants (and that’s not all of it). So, after a 5-minute walk, we are finally down, admiring the seaport where dozens of pirate ships (literally) are quietly parked, being photographed by another dozen (and more) of tourists. The harbour is also surrounded by Tea Gardens, fish restaurants, old houses and friendly cats running all over the place. Five minutes are more than necessary to just stand there and observe the whole thing.

Antalya's city centre has, according to me, a great contrast between the old part of town with its antique passageways, and its crowded commercial streets, with sıcak simit sellers and families doing their shopping. There can be as many shopping centres as you’d like (and, coming from a city where there were only a couple – one of them being built only a couple of years ago, this can come in handy), but it can also have lots of peaceful spots, where nature is so present that it makes you forget about life and its hustle for a while.  

Having said this, I will, from now on, try and force myself to write at least an article a week. Or every two weeks, depending on the amount of stories I’ll have to write about (ha…). And, before ending this, here's a last picture: spot the cats :)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Bayram, 1

A glimpse of Lake Iznik.

My mind, as well as my mental health, had both been screaming for rest for the last couple of weeks. My craving for a good night’s sleep had got so big, that a long weekend seemed more like a one-way ticket to paradise. Therefore, I had many reasons to get excited for our first official school break, our first Bayram.

Bayram is the word for either a national or religious holiday or celebration. This year, Turkey, as well as other Muslim countries, celebrated Eid al-Adha (Kurban Bayramı) from Friday, October 3, until Tuesday, October 7. It is a religious 4-day holiday, symbolizing the sacrifice of Abraham's son, Isaac. As is tradition, on the first day of Bayram and shortly after sunrise, families go to the Mosque for the general prayer, and then sacrifice an animal in their name (it can be lamb, sheep, goat, calf, camel…), which can then be divided amongst two or more families, one big part of the animal going, in the end, to the poor ones and those in need. The tradition also states that families should pay a visit to their elders, as a sign of respect. Children, as well as some adults, buy new and smart clothes to wear during the festivities, and bring out with them one or several presents to each visited household.
[I was even invited to the slaughter, to which I politely but firmly said 'no'. I do love meat, but... no.] 

Once reunited, family members gather around a good cup of Türkçe kahvesi (Turkish coffee), a few bits and bobs, most of them being sweets, chocolates and dessert (tatlı), and, obviously, meat.

So, I was quite excited when everyone warned me about the perks of this Bayram: family visiting, back to the roots and lots of eating. Lots. 

They weren’t wrong.

In order to experience a very traditional Bayram, I packed my bags and headed up to my new beloved Turkish Bogotá, Bursa. Being apart from school for a few days was incredibly relaxing. My days started with marvelous breakfasts, which I can’t even describe without daydreaming (not even impressed…), followed by a daily coffee (strong, no sugar, tiny chocolate on top). 

We then headed to the visitings. Being around Turkish-speaking people made me force my brain to work a little harder in order to recognize words and try to understand what was being said around me. 
Challenge accepted, mission unaccomplished. Bu ne?

However, despite me being totally lost in translation (and in the language…), I had the chance to sink in (even more) into the Turkish culture. Family members happen to be extremely welcoming, and being a foreigner doesn’t make the slightest difference to them. I felt at home, once again. 

And we still managed to ramble around town, once again. However, if you want to visit Bursa's city-centre, I wouldn't recommend doing it on a Bayram Saturday. We happened to find the streets - usually packed with people going for a coffee, sellers at the Pazaar and tourists with their cameras and maps trying to find one of the many historical spots, rather empty and lonely. Still, there was a certain peace wandering along the deserted one-way little roads. We then spent the afternoon climbing up the hills to reach the Yeşil Pazaar, eating acıbadem (a sweet, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside almond kind-of-cookie), looking for an apparently non-existent Bursa mug at every Starbucks in town, to finally end up at KoruPark, one of Bursa's shopping centres, eating kumpir and going to the cinema. In English, of course.


I even had the chance of capturing the Ulucamii at night. 

This picture definitely, definitely doesn't do justice to the real thing. I.Need.A.Decent.Camera. 

I’m really happy I got the chance to almost drown in Turkish for 5 days (the sound of Spanish felt actual weird), discover a few traditions by going to small villages lost in the mountains (as a tribute to my wonderful childhood, I felt like being back in Chipaque, my grandad's hometown, looking at the endlessly montainous landscapes, surrounded by gigantic eucalyptus trees) and spend more time in Bursa. Mountains are definitely a sight for sore eyes, a cure against tiredness, an anti-stress therapy…

Ok, I’ll stop here.

Mübarek Olsun!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Another breakfast story

I have never been a breakfast person. Back in Colombia, until the early age of seventeen (ish), FRUIT was mandatory, eggs were only for weekends and most kinds (if not any) of savoury products were off the list. 
(Ok, maybe not all of them... Who can say no to a lovely piece of cheesy toast, or a typical sausage-and-scrambled-egg kinda breakfast?)

At least I can’t. Hardly.

However, things changed, and when I went to France, I was definitely allowed to say that savoury products were off the list. All of them. For a typical French, having eggs for breakfast can be as unreal as having... Cereal for dinner (mmm...). And when it comes to breakfast, they can stand proud of their cuisine and tell anyone croissant and pain au chocolat, accompanied by a good cup of coffee (or orange juice, for that matter) can be as good as it gets.

But that's because they haven't lived in Turkey.

The first Turkish breakfast I had was two days after I stepped foot in Antalya. Everything seemed normal on the table, until I saw cucumbers and tomatoes, finely chopped, peacefully lying on the table, sprinkled wih sea salt and a few drops of lemon. And, a bit further, black and green olives. Breakfast, anyone?
Yeah, every breakfast has its magic, and the Turkish one is far from being behind. Found everywhere around town, a traditional kahvaltı has bread (all kinds of, my favourite so far being açma or plain white bread), olives, tomatoes and cucumbers, cheese (feta-style, Beyaz, or a more sober-ish one, Kaşar), eggs (yumurta), sucuk (a sausage made out of garlic and spices. A must. Forget about diet), butter, jam, figs and honey.

And finally, tea. Lots, lots, loooots of tea. Because we all love tea 'round here.


Number 1: Discovering the morning side of tomato and cucumber.
 Number 2:  Jaaaaam all the way!

Number 3: First homemade Turkish breakfast. *proud*

Even if it takes a bit of time to get used to it (tomatoes and cucumber are a part of my daily, uhm, dinner salad), Turkish breakfast is simply delicious. Along with its different versions and its many additions (Baslama, a “pizza-shaped” homemade bread filled with cheese, or gözleme, a savoury dough pastry filled with feta cheese and parsley), it is a great way of getting up on a lazy weekend, having delicious food and starting the day with your energy over the moon. It is also the best time to share a moment with your loved ones; breakfast is traditionally served in a big table, a yer sofrasi, where guests can gather around and enjoy a convivial moment.

Obviously, as every beautiful sin, it can’t always be eaten during the week (whyyyy?). But not to worry, weekdays’ breakfast can also be fun. The school cafeteria, as well as every single bakery in town has a greatgreatgrand variety of bread (poğaça, açma, simit), along with a bunch of stuff you can only find in Turkey, such as börek (a meat, cheese or vegetable-filled pastry) and its variants (su böreği, sigara böreği), and others I'm sure I haven’t discovered yet.

And çay.

So, traditional breakfast comes as an addition to my endless list of “Reasons-of-looking-forward-to-the-weekend”. But in the meantime, having to work every day and going through a massive sleeping strike, I can get happy with this:

Number 4: My fave.

Afiyet olsun :)

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Through the eyes of a yabancı: Bursa

Once upon a time, in Turkey...

Last Friday, I found myself at the Antalya bus station (Otogar, and may any French read it out loud!) at 6 in the morning. It was the last weekend off before D-day, and so I decided to spend it visiting another part of the country. After 9 hours of endless breath-taking landscapes, rivers bathed with the morning sunlight, and a few stops at local towns full of coffee shops and Poğaça (yep, beauts) sellers, I reached my final destination.


Yeşil Bursa.

The bus station was crowded, with buses coming from all over the country and passengers running from one side to another. However, despite the huge amount of cars, yellow buses, taxis and even bikes, I could smell the fresh air and feel the temperature change (Boiling much, Antalya?). I was welcomed by a huge blue sky, a fresh summer breeze and a portrait of Atatürk. And, although I only spent two days, I created a particularly special link with this city, mainly because it reminded me (still does, always will!) of my hometown, Bogotá.

Being the first capital of the Ottoman Empire and the fourth largest city in Turkey, Bursa had a lot to offer me. From its magnificent views, its majestic mountains, hidden spots, beautifully built mosques and way more, we tried to see the most of it.

Of course, two days will never be enough.

So, if I had to sum up my weekend (and try to contain my excitement when writing about it), I would start with the little trip by teleferik to the top of the Great Mountain (Uludağ), where landscapes are just... Gah. Home to several chalets and ski resorts, major attraction during winter time, Uludağ is the best medicine against any kind of urban madness and a beautiful change of scene (dépaysement, anyone?). We then set out on our way down, to take a walk along the city centre and beyond, having candied chestnut, goat milk ice cream and tons of çay in the process. Best way to have fun. Period.

I would definitely go back to Saklı Bahçe (Hidden Garden), a cozy little lookout, where cussions were disposed on the grass, around tables for drinks and food, and rabbits were running around. Perfect place for a hot coffee, dessert and a good chat.  

I even got to go to a Turkish wedding. And an engagement party.

Turkish wedding cake. They should ban dessert in this country.

Breakfast (Turkish bread... *sigh*)

Teleferik. 'We created our own heaven.'

Maraş Usulü Dondurma (goat milk ice cream). Can someone explain why these don't exist anywhere else?!

A closer look at the Ulucamii (Great Mosque)

Bursa <3

'Going back home' is not... close enough to describe what I felt when crossing the country. Whilst sitting on the bus, I felt like traveling back in time to my greatest memories, driving through the Colombian Andes on a sunny holiday. Going up the mountain reminded me of my city's magnificent view, along with its beautiful places and warm-hearted people, just like Turkish people.

I'm glad I had a first. And it certainly won't be the last.  


Monday, 25 August 2014


A few days before coming to Antalya, besides from tearing my hair off and biting my nails out of nervousness (and anxiety, and happiness, and sadness, and melancholy… Let’s just not talk about it), I was seriously wondering whether it was going to be worth it. To be completely honest, the thought of going to a country whose language was a complete mystery to me, and where I would not even know how to order a burger at the local restaurant or buy some yoghurt for breakfast, truly scared me. Because, of all places I considered moving into when making the huge step of entering the professional world, Turkey was the last country I would have thought of.

Ok, I didn’t even think about it.
So, when I got off the plane, facing the oh-so-feared 30 degrees at eight o’clock in the evening, carrying my whole life in 5 heavy bags, I didn’t know what to think, what to do or what to say (most of all, what to say apart from “hello, how are you?”). Luckily, my BFF and her husband, the best people ever, were here to help me, and I could not thank them enough for what they did for me. Seeeriiiously.

(But I don’t want to get into details of how I got here, with my 756 kilos, my stuffed sheep and my Moulin Rouge poster).

Ten days have passed now, and I can say this city inspires me. I can’t exactly explain the feeling. I found my way into writing again. I’m always willing to discover more. I try to learn a new word every day by reading out loud whatever I see on the streets. And right now, sitting on my balcony, I poorly attempt to perpetuate my thoughts, mesmerized by the abrupt cultural difference, but I can only think of that moment when I’ll make my way through the uncountable landscapes, little towns, beaches, mountain trips and anything Turkey-related. I want to express how delighted I am to be here, I want to use gigantic words to show off my emotion, but I can only say I’m happy.

And I don’t usually show off my feelings…     

Because sleeping with your window wide open and being waken up at 5 am by azan, to then watch the sunrise with a five-coloured sky, having chips for breakfast, greeting someone by telling them "may work come easy to you", or going to the local shop and having the fruit seller pick you the best and bigger melon, has no price. This is the place where traffic can be as chaotic as back in Colombia, where there’s a Camii in every single corner, each one prettier than the other, where it feels like holiday every day, and where you can have both beach and mountains, all in one. Snow and sea. 22 degrees in November?

So, in the meantime, I’ll just stay with this:

Kaşar peyrini with some kavun and vişne suyu.


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Özdilek Adventures

Today was my first "day out" with my best friend in Antalya. For a long time, I had warned her about my huge shoppingaddiction need to buy clothes for work, as I had to get rid of... Nearly 3/4 of my wardrobe when moving here.

I don't want to remember it.

Anyways, after a few morning chores, we headed to a closeby shopping centre called Özdilek. We had been there before last weekend for about five minutes, when quickly running to buy a few things before going back home. We had the whole afternoon awaiting for us, and we were gonna enjoy it, since the last time we had gone shopping together, we kinda looked like this:

Unicentro, 2005

(Ok, maybe this wasn't the last time. We were only 14 and our shopping consisted in bags full of sweets to eat whilst going to the cinema). 

So, in order to not break the tradition (or break the rules, or keep the diet), we had our mandatory McDonalds for lunch. After quickly looking at the menu (completely unnecessary, since we knew what we were getting anyways), we ordered and sat down to savour this and chat about nonsense.

Özdilek, 2014
I didn't finish it.

Time passed by and we went over all the shops we could afford. Which can come as a bit of a joke, considering that pretty much everything is affordable in this blessed country. I was always scared of using my card every time I went shopping in France, mainly because my budget was enough to buy... A pair of jeans and an average top (if going to cool stores). I was therefore surprised and pleased to spot lots of lovely clothes, accessories, shoes, summer clothes to make up for the 100 kilos of clothes I had to give away back in France.

I was happy.

Here are a few snaps of what I got:

I needed those trainers. Turkish fast food is going to kill me otherwise.