So, How Was Your Day?
Mememen (a Turkish dish made of scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers)
Fish sandwich. Efes beer.
Raki. Cacik. Sigara boregi. Chicken shish kabob.
My husband, Andrew, and I pop out of bed around 7am. It’s our fourth day in Istanbul on vacation, so there’s no time to waste. Before we left Chicago, we had zero time to study the language or plan much of anything. So this trip is all about spontaneity. We take an early stroll along the Golden Horn harbor that divides the city, and I order mememen, a classic breakfast casserole. I can’t finish it; Andrew picks at what’s left. Just like life in New York (where we met), we justify eating a lot by walking everywhere. Hop on the tram and head to Aya Sofia, likely the most famous landmark in the city. Go photo crazy. At the Blue Mosque, I’m given a cloth to cover my head and legs. Swing through the Grand Bazaar one more time to barter for rugs. The selection is extensive, but after a while, they all look the same. Nothing looks good for less than $1000. Feel disappointed but happy to keep our wallets full.
Walk to the Galata Bridge and eat fish sandwiches under the pier. This popular street food is served to locals straight out of boats tied up to the riverbanks. The smell turns me off, but we’re trying to eat all local, all day. The sandwich is too fishy to finish, but a cool experience for sure. Pack up our stuff at the bed and breakfast we’re staying at for $70 a night and hop on a 1½-hour ferry ride to the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara. While on the ferry, vendors hawk breads and do magic tricks. Remark on the insanely long Istanbul shoreline, which makes sense because 14 million(!) people live here. Many of the city’s buildings need major love, but the Turks don’t seem to mind. Arrive in Büyükada. Munch on a batch of Turkish donuts as we stroll through the streets to our hotel. Wi-Fi is down, which has been the case for much of the trip. Andrew reminds me of how freeing it feels to be unconnected.
No cars are allowed on the island, so everyone travels by horse and carriage or bike. Ride in carriage toward the top of the island. Hike to the very top where there’s a church and a restaurant. Reward ourselves by ordering raki, the traditional Turkish apéritif. Can only force down two sips because it tastes like rancid black licorice. Take pictures of sunset. Walk back down the hill and follow the local custom of tying a napkin onto a tree as a wish. Eat at a restaurant with views of Istanbul at dusk. On carriage ride back to hotel, talk about future trips and our inevitable return to reality.
Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with the floral wreath in your hair? Did you make it?
Nope. But the pretty little things are all the rage there. Street vendors sell them for about 5 liras each (about $2.50), and they’re made out of foam flowers and wire. I’m sure the local gals are totally over the look, but I loved them so much I bought two and wore one almost every day. Since floral crowns have been trending for a while here too, I think they’ll be a perfect craft to recreate on my blog!
2. You worked at a slew of print publications in NYC before you moved to Chicago. Since then, you’ve been writing a lot more for online magazines. How’s the transition been from print to web?
The transition has been challenging, frustrating, and gratifying all at once. During my entire career in New York, I worked in an office with a staff, and we followed a schedule and a vision set by our bosses. Some stories would take months to pull off, and each one went through multiple levels of writing and editing and up to 10-15 revisions—even for a block of text that’s only 50 words (when millions of people are reading your work, you better believe every last detail is analyzed and over-analyzed). For some of my freelance jobs, like my work on apartmentnumber9.com, I’m the sole reporter, writer, editor, fact-checker, and copyeditor. I’m churning out six stories every two weeks for that project alone, so everything has to be speedy. There is absolutely no time for rewrites, no time to hem and haw over headlines. But without the solid background I’ve had, there’s no way I could handle it. And while working for the web has been a nice change of pace, print will always have a large piece of my heart. I truly believe that the best magazines will survive these days if they can dually thrive in the digital space (believe me, I’m still mourning Domino, ReadyMade, House & Garden, and O at Home).
3. If you hadn’t kept your wallet full…dream souvenir from Istanbul?
There was this hot pink, patchwork carpet I adored at the Grand Bazaar, but Andrew immediately nixed it. He’s lucky it was way out of our budget because I swear I could’ve convinced him that real men have hot pink rugs. Otherwise, I would’ve loved to buy enough Turkish ceramics to fill a china cabinet. The classic blue-and-white patterned dishes were my favorite.
Jourdan is a writer and editor living in Chicago with her husband Andrew. A former NYC editor at In Style and Country Living, she currently contributes to Southern Living, Budget Travel, marthastewart.com, and apartmentnumber9.com. She’s also an ambitious crafter, who documents the process of making everything from drawer-liner coasters to fabric-wrapped antlers on her blog. jourdancrouchfairchild.com