Tag Archives: Turkey

Istanbul fever

Last week, while eating Healthy Salmon Salad, I run into the Silvertooth album by Ethan Daniel Davidson. Soon after I started listening to it, I was very vividly brought back to something. Place: Istanbul. Time: many times, from 2001 to 2007.roofs of IstanbulI first visited Istanbul right after the 9-11. It was supposed to be a one-week trip but I ended up staying for a long time. So long, that even my airline (Swissair) went bankrupt during my stay of two months. Wow. And yes, it was that hip of a city that ever since 2001, I have tried to return to this half-European, half-Asian city whenever I can. During some years, I was even lucky enough to have a contract with a company that had a regional office in Istanbul! 

No need to explain, I love Istanbul and it is one of my all-time favorite cities of the world.

But now back to Silvertooth. In November 2007, I had returned to this super cool, fantastic city with my now husband and some friends for a long weekend. We stayed at the Kybele Hotel and this is also where Silvertooth’s Ethan (guitar, vocals) and Gretchen (guitar) were staying. We became friends and spent a couple of crazy nights together enjoying Istanbul: climbed centuries’ old roof tops, explored mezes and drunk raki. Many crazy photos, too. One of those weekends I would love to time travel back to!

So, while I was having dinner in Paris last week –accompanied by me, myself and Silvertooth– Istanbul suddenly came back to me and I started missing it. And this feeling, urge of returning, has been growing ever since last Wednesday and it does not seem to go away. Istanbul, here I come, soon, I hope.


The Kybele Hotel: http://www.kybelehotel.com

PS Have you already checked out Pearlspotting’s Facebook page?

Parisian fireplace

Our renovation company came over this morning to do some last touch up paint, so it was a convenient day to begin pre-Christmas cleaning. I used the opportunity to see what our 1870s marble fireplace looks like without the mirror and all other decorations and this is it, in its rather minimalist style: Parisian marble fire place from 1870s

The round wooden boxes come from Afghanistan and the region. I learned in Turkey, where I bought them, to keep almonds and pistachios inside, but I do wonder what tribal treasures they carried one hundred years ago?

The painting is by a young, talented Parisian artist called Dominique Dubien (http://dominiquedubien.com/).

PS Already following Pearlspotting’s Facebook page?

Catching the last rays of the Mediterranean summer

I spent this summer pretty much working in front of the computer and piles of papers, but to be honest, I do not mind spending the summer in Paris. Less traffic, less pollution, less people, less stress, less everything –in my opinion August in particular is the best month in Paris!

However, now that my contract is going to end in few weeks’ time, I can finally start planning for holidays. Our last trip to the Mediterranean basin took place in May (Crete), and we would like to catch some more of that southern sun before the autumn really begins…sky is the limitWhen I was preparing Sicilian Caponata: a perfect autumn dish yesterday, I was pretty decisive about  flying to Sicily and renting a car to explore the island. I am very intrigued about the culinary culture there. In addition, we could have free tickets with Easy Jet, and there are several flights per week (did you know that since last year you can use your Emirates miles to buy Easy Jet tickets?). The Sicily option sounds tempting for many reasons, but I do wonder about the weather. Would we be able to swim in the sea?

This morning I turned on the computer and there was an email from Transavia (http://www.transavia.com/hv/en-EU/home), a low-cost airline that is part of the Air France-KLM group. They have super-hyper-cheap flights to destination where many airlines stop flying around the time when the schools start, so now I am looking at returning to Crete (Heraklion 69€ one way) or flying to Turkey (Antalya 79€ one way). There is also Sicily (Palerme) for next to nothing: 39€. Hmmm… How about flying to Antalya and catching a return flight from Heraklion? How long would the island hopping take?

So many choices, so many wonderful destinations! Whether we choose Sicily, Crete, Turkey or something else in that part of the Mediterrenaen, it will be a fantastic choice, full of culinary experiences I am sure!

If you were me, where would you go and why?

PS Have you already checked Pearlspotting’s Facebook page?

The French dilemma: holidays in May

Since I last wrote, the spring has arrived in Paris. Just over a week ago Le Jardin des Plantes, where I do my jogging, showed no sign of spring but yesterday almost every tree had buds, and some more than that!

This sudden change in weather also means that we are approaching the famous month of May… Famous, because in France it is a month that feels like a never-ending holiday. It begins with the International Workers’ Day (encouragement is surely needed under the current economic conditions!), the religious holidays (does everyone remember their origin?) and there also is the Victory Day that takes us back to 1945. This year, May 8 falls on Wednesday and May 9 naturally on Thursday. In France this means that many people will make a bridge (faire le pont). For clarification, no, they won’t build a bridge, but they will take Friday off in order to have a loooooooong weekend (sometimes this is imposed by the employer itself!). Even if you don’t live in France, try talking to your boss about “bridge making” and you may get an extra day off!

Furthermore, since most companies ask employees to use their remaining holidays by the end of the month, the dilemma is ready: how to use them, what to do, where to go? A French dilemma! But a nice one.

So, I have been suffering from the same problematic since last week. Some ideas are above the others, but wherever I go traveling, it is important to eat well. Distance-wise, the destination should not be more than some four hours away by plane. Ideally, the weather should be warmer than in Paris… Voila, here is the current shortlist:

1. Spain Spain

Spain, one of the closest destinations to France where the weather is warmer, food delicious and wine good. I would not mind eating some fresh, grilled seafood like razor shells. Not forgetting manchego. Fly to Malaga, rent a car and drive around Andalusia to learn about Islamic heritage in Europe? Or fly to Santiago de Compostela with Vueling (http://www.vueling.com) but forget swimming in the sea in May, I think…

2. ItalyItaly

Italy is like Spain –who does not love these two countries? My dream for many years now has been to drive around the coastline of Italy, but one would need at least one month to do that, I reckon. But how about just flying to Naples and visiting the nearby islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida? Seafood and wine are delicious, too! Or –since I already know these three island– fly to Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island.

3. Turkey Istanbul& Greece

On the eastern side of the Mediterranean is Turkey, where I have been maybe ten times. More importantly, I have never been disappointed with food. How could one be: Turkish mezes are very tasty and the eggplant puree in the picture is to die for! A week in Bodrum with some island hopping to Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes? The sea should be warm enough for pleasant swimming.

4. A seaside resort in a place where it is HOT (Egypt?)

I took this photo in Seychelles some years ago and the beach looks very tempting. With some luck the Mediterranean sea temperature will be well above 20C Seychellesin May but maybe not. The only seaside destination near Europe (again, around 4 hours of flying) where you have “guaranteed hot weather” is Egypt and you can correct me if I am wrong. In Egypt, not only one has the sun and the turquoise water, but there are excellent snorkeling and diving possibilities. My primary concern is that Egypt is mainly a package-tour destination and based on my hotel-review reading, the food is often not top… Do not get me wrong; I am sure Egyptian food is good, but I just need to find the right hotel that believes in preparing traditional food instead of serving pasta buffets…

5. France

The obvious not-so-obvious choice: France. To rent a car and drive towards the South? My usual lunch stop is in Beaune in Burgundy where snails are bigger and better than anywhere else (or at least compared to most of the places I have eaten at). From Beaune the voyage wFranceould continue toward Avignon and further down south either toward Côte d’Azur or deeper into Languedoc, including stops chez les vignerons (read my previous post Wine tasting at Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants). Always an excellent idea.

Ideas to ponder, indeed. Meanwhile, should you like to share your favorite holiday spot with me, or have suggestions or comments, let me know!