Leslie in Istanbul, May 2013

by Leslie Braverman on October 30, 2014

Leslie Braverman traveled to Istanbul to teach last year at the invitation of Cin Pilates, owned by Pelin Peremici Cin and Cetin Cin. There’s more to the story, of course, when Leslie or Melanie travels to teach. The sheer pleasure of seeing a new place and sharing it with gracious local Pilates hosts also informs their internationally flavored business. Look back with us at Leslie’s journal entries as a Throwback Thursday treat this week. 

Day 1

We made it!

After a fairly uneventful 20-hour flight, we arrive in Istanbul. Tired, yet excited, we drag our luggage out into the bright sun to meet our friends, Pelin and Cetin — two pairs of smiling eyes in a sea of people. We grab a cab and enter chaotic and cacophonous traffic.

Note: No one pays attention to traffic lanes in Turkey. And don’t bother looking for a seat belt. You only hope the driver has not had too much raki and that there is an evil eye on the taxi’s front dash for protection.

At first we wonder if we landed in the right place. Large concrete buildings line the highway on either side with laundry hanging from every window. Then came miles of stores filled with shiny hubcaps and appliances next to windows overflowing with white mannequins in every conceivable pose. Anybody need a mannequin?

Suddenly, as if by the flick of a wand, the city appears. Splendid modern glass buildings overlap with ancient minarets. They all shimmer in the sunlight and melt into sea and sky. It is breathtaking, this entwined old and new.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque

We ate dinner at “Back Yard,” a lovely restaurant overlooking the Sea of Marmara. Imagine plates filled with olives, feta, pickled walnuts, anchovies and bread. The red wine is dry and the coffee is strong.

Alex and Leslie in Cesme

Much later, in our  new home, we crash for a long night of deep sleep.

Day 2

I wake at 12:30 p.m. completely disoriented and dehydrated. My ankles look like Turkish lavosh. The heat from the street is pounding into our white tiled bedroom. Quickly, Alex and I dress and our friends arrive.

We walk through the neighborhood, Nisantasi. This is one of the high-end districts of Istanbul. The streets are teeming with people. Taxis whiz through the streets past expensive restaurants and shops. We spot the favored banks, markets and shops, then turn to a cafe for breakfast. More feta, tomato with cucumber and olive oil await and it’s delicious after a long sleep.

Turkish Sweets in Shop Window

Next, we walk the narrow stone streets to Ortakoy, a vibrant area on the Bosphorous. Tables are filled with scarves, jewelry and bright-color ceramics. There we board a boat to sail out to sea.

The Bosphorous is the strait that divides Europe and Asia. Istanbul is the only city in the world that straddles two continents. Along the shore, castles and fortresses mix with tony restaurants and luxurious homes. Our company on the sea includes small fishing boats, barges and cruise ships traveling to and from the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.

Pelin and Cetin

Alex, Pelin, Cetin and I drape over large pillows on the top deck of the boat, drinking tea from delicately curved glasses while taking in the beauty of water and land.

Hmmmmm … in the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, I wonder what the poor rabbits are doin’?

Just east of Ortakoy is a region called Barbek. The streets are lined with restaurants and more stores. Roses, citrus and olive tree branches tumble over the rails of balconies as people watch each other, eat, sip colorful drinks and smoke cigarettes.

Wonderful Turkish Dinner

We climb several flights of stairs to Mangerie and order salad and seafood. We talk and laugh late into the night. A full orange moon rises slowly, its reflection sparkling on the sea.

I swear to you, I am NOT making this up.

I am in heaven.

Pacific NW Pilates is studio, school and fitness family under one roof. Click to learn more about our education courses and workshops, private studio sessions and group classes. Or call for details: (503) 292-4409.

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