Istanbul…in Bloom


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If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.—Alphonse de Lamartine


I don’t know if Istanbul is the most beautiful city I have ever seen, but on this day in Goztepe Park (above photo) with the tulips in bloom, it was surely one of the most memorable days I have spent abroad.

April in Istanbul is truly beautiful.  Flowers are in bloom all over the city.  I saw daisies, hyacinths, the most impressive wisteria blooms I have ever seen, and of course tulips.

We were in Istanbul in early April of this year.  We spent a lot of time in parks since we were babysitting our granddaughter while her parents were in language classes.  Leslie Knope’s head would be spinning with the landscaping budget that Istanbul procures for their parks.  I have never seen such beautiful parks in a city, so colorful with all of the flowers in bloom.

Their were two places where tulips were the most impressive. The Sultanahmet Square outside of the Hagia Sophia which has the largest bed of tulips in the world and the previously mentioned Goztepe Park.

If you love spring blooms, especially tulips and wisteria, visit Istanbul in early April.

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Blossoms outside the Blue Mosque.

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Tulips and minaret outside Hagia Sophia.

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Tulips in bloom outside the Blue Mosque.

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Wisteria and redbud blooms in one of the parks in Kadidoy.

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Landscaping in a Kadikoy park.


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Flowers for sale from a street vendor.

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The largest tulip bed in the world at Sultanahmet Square, outside the Hagia Sophia.

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Tulips and daisies around a fountain near the spice market.


The following photos are of flowers in Goztepe Park in the Kadikoy section of Istanbul.

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Mrs. Big Surf strolling and wishing for a bigger tulip budget.

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Hoscacal, Istanbul.


Louisville,KY…A Good Eatin’ Weekend

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A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty, has wasted thirty years of his life.—Muhammad Ali

This quote, from one of my favorite Louisvillians, sums up my approach to food over the past few years.  All my life, I was eating good food…I just didn’t know it.

My wife was developing into a superb cook, my mom fixed delicious food all my life and my mother-in-law fed me like a king. My two grandmothers were really good cooks but in different ways. I didn’t appreciate what all they did in the kitchen until lately when I started enjoying cooking.

I didn’t appreciate restaurant food until the last twenty years or so.  It was more about eating out at for a reasonable price than dining for enjoyment.

As I started my journey in the kitchen, I started paying attention more to restaurant food.  Now I tell my friends “food and cooking have become my new sport” since my knees don’t allow me to participate in a lot of sports anymore.

Well if sports have become my new metaphor for cooking, then Louisville, KY is the playing field.  Louisville has become a food destination in the culinary scene.  It has been this way for many years but is now starting to get recognized for the many fine restaurants in this wonderful city on the Ohio River.

My wife and I spent a rainy weekend in Louisville recently.  I was limited in my time, as I was in classes for two days, and it was too wet for outdoor activities, but we still got to eat.  We took every opportunity to visit some really good restaurants, some of them are not particularly well-known, but very good nonetheless.

This blog is all about the food…

First up was Whiskey Dry on a Thursday night.  This is Chef Ed Lee’s newest Louisville restaurant.  He has 610 Magnolia and Milkwood. Incidentally my wife and I agree that our favorite dish we have eaten in Louisville over the years has been Chef Lee’s pork shoulder with black barbecue sauce over coconut rice, with edamame and curry oil.  This is a staple at Milkwood.

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Whiskey Dry is the only locally owned restaurant on 4th Street Live in downtown Louisville.  It specializes in burgers paired with bourbon, very Kentucky.

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I had the Big Ed burger, a take-off of the Big Mac.  Instead of a middle bun, there is a fried green tomato.  I can’t impart the degree of deliciousness I experienced with this burger and fries.

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Our very tasty appetizer at Whiskey Dry was Pimento Cheese Curds with Chile Romesco sauce.

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This adult chocolate milkshake may have had a little bourbon in it.  This was dessert.

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Cool bar at Whiskey Dry.


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Friday afternoon lunch at NamNam Cafe for wonderful Vietnamese cuisine.

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Very cool table top at NamNam Cafe.

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My new culinary romance is pho. The NamNam Cafe pho is real real good.



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We had a Friday dinner at Louvino on Bardstown Road.  This is a small plate eatery in the heart of Louisville’s restaurant and hipster section.   You can literally walk up and down Bardstown Road and find a great place to eat. We met my cousin and her husband for a lively and enjoyable meal.  Lots of good dishes were enjoyed here.

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The bacon-wrapped dates are a must for a starter at Louvino.

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The Port wine brisket with zucchini cornbread was so tender and delicious at Louvino.


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Lee’s Korean Restaurant was our choice for a Saturday lunch. Lee’s is on the first floor of what looks like an office building, so don’t give up looking if you drive by it the first time.  If you have a hankering for Korean, this is the place.

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Deep fried won ton was a great choice for our starter.

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Mrs. Big Surf and I shared the beef bibimbap with the Korean vegetables.  Our waitress/hostess was so nice and pleasant as she demonstrated the way to eat this Korean traditional dish.  She was happy to show us a little of her home country.  I was glad she did.


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The Come Back Inn was recommended to us for our Saturday night meal.  Word of mouth is a wonderful thing for we had a wonderful meal.  This is a small neighborhood Italian eatery in a humble building in the Smoketown/Germantown/Highlands area.  I really don’t know my neighborhoods in Louisville.

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We started with a chef’s special appetizer for the night of Smoked Salmon Crostini. This was pretty special.  Capers are one of God’s little blessings that let me know He knew what He was doing.

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The waiter told us the specialty at Come Back Inn is the Bolognese.  I was going to get something else, but he said this would bring me back.  He was right.  I will come back (now I get it).  My wife had the chef special of the evening of lobster ravioli in a saffron cream sauce.  This dish was very tasty but the lobster may have been lost in the sauce.  The sauce was so good, we didn’t mind too much not to get all of the lobster taste.


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Our last meal was breakfast on Sunday morning before heading home.  After some research, I found Gralehaus.  This is actually a bed and breakfast with rooms upstairs.  I loved this place.  It is very small and was hard to find.  It is on Baxter Avenue right behind the Holy Grale that is on Bardstown Road.  Our GPS took us to the Holy Grale.

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The coffee alone was worth braving the rain and not having room service, also we got to drink out of these nifty mugs.

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This was the best dish I ate all weekend, Biscuit & Duck Gravy, made with a black pepper biscuit in duck sausage gravy with a maple sauce drizzle and duck cracklin’.  I will be thinking about this for a long time.  I may take up duck hunting just to try to duplicate this.

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My wife had Lamb & Grits, a sausage of Middle Eastern origin with lamb and pork. The grits were very good, topped with an egg and cilantro and mint.  This was very enjoyable also.



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I mentioned earlier my favorite dish I have ever eaten in Louisville. This is Milkwood’s Pork Shoulder with black barbeque sauce from Chef Ed Lee.


They say the most exciting two minutes in sports is the Kentucky Derby (also in Louisville). But set one of these dishes from a Louisville restaurant in front of me and I will give this phrase a run for the money.







Big Surf Daddy’s Seafood Bender…Tybee Island and Savannah, Georgia

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Unlike wine or water, or even Coca-Cola, sweet tea means something. It is a tell, a tradition. Sweet tea isn’t a drink, really.  It’s culture in a glass.—Allison Glock


Big Surf Daddy is most at home on a southern beach and lately, Tybee Island is becoming his favorite southern beach.

This was my second visit to the laid-back island beach community just a short drive from Savannah, Georgia.  The beach is wide and the food is good.  And nothing gets me off the beach, except to eat.

This was a good eatin’ week for Big Surf.  There are many good restaurants on Tybee and in Savannah.

Savannah is on many travel lists as one of the top cities in the US.  All you have to do is go there to see why.  It is easy to get around. Most of the historic center of town can be seen on foot… unless it is one of those Georgia summer days when it feels like you could fry a green tomato on your head.  Then you can take one of the many wheeled tours about town.

Savannah is a graceful and charming southern lady with a sheepish grin that makes you wonder what she is hiding.  Tybee Island is her less sophisticated younger cousin that wants to skip class today and hang out with her friends.

To me it is a perfect beach vacation spot, laid back and not too crowded and though Tybee isn’t known for world-class restaurants, many are very good.  You can find those world-class restaurants in Savannah.

After all, all Big Surf Daddy needs is a beach and good food. And both are available on Tybee Island and in Savannah, Georgia.

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Just another serene morning on Tybee Island.

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I love the morning reflections off the water.

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Normally, I am not a morning person, but I made an effort to watch the sunrises from our balcony on this trip.

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The Cockspur Lighthouse was built in 1855 and stands 46 feet high.  It survived a Civil War battle and is now part of Fort Pulaski National Monument.

Now that we have all those annoying beach scenes out of the way, lets talk about food and sweet tea.  I love sweet tea in the south and I had it with most of the evening meals. I’m’ sure there are some who ask, “Why not every meal?” I have no answer for that.

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I bought some real good shrimp for a low country boil from Scuba Steve’s Seafood Market on Tybee Island.

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Good coffee and friendly service at Tybean Art and Coffee Bar .

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AJ’s Dockside Grill, has sunset dining and great food.

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The crispy scored flounder with sweet chili glaze at AJ’s Dockside Grill  may have been the best meal I had all week.

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My wife had the crab stew and shrimp and grits at AJ’s.  Both were very tasty.

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Current Kitchen and Cocktails serves very high-caliber food on Tybee Island.

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I am still thinking about these turmeric mussels at Current Kitchen and how delicious they were. I want to desperately repeat this dish somehow.

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The fish taco’s at Current Kitchen are made with mango salsa, chipotle, and avocado. I enjoyed these very much.

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My wife had Snapper Risotto at Current Kitchen. It looked good and tasted good.

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The Sundae Cafe on Tybee Island is another high quality restaurant with excellent food.  The exterior in a small strip center may be off-putting to some, but don’t let that dissuade  you from going here to eat.  I enjoyed this restaurant a lot.

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One of the highlight dishes for the week was the Seafood Cheesecake at the Sundae Cafe. You need to taste this at some point in your life unless you are allergic to seafood, then I would avoid it.

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I can never get enough bisque of any kind and this seafood bisque at Sundae Cafe did not disappoint me.  So rich and tasty.

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Southern Oysters Rockefeller at Sundae Cafe.  Oysters, shrimp, smoked bacon, creamed collard greens with tasso hollandaise sauce…what could be finer in this diner?

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This dessert was a special for the night at Sundae Cafe, the four of us shared it.  It had a doughnut, apple, ice cream, caramel, and topped with whipped cream.  So decadent.


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Pearl’s Saltwater Grille was a good find.  It is a little out of the way but only a twenty-minute drive from Tybee Island and downtown Savannah.

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The view from our table at Pearl’s Saltwater Grille.

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You can’t go south and not eat fried green tomatoes.  Pearl’s Saltwater Grille has excellent fried green tomatoes and hush puppies.

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Sophisticated southern dish of parmesan and herb crusted grouper with lump crab meat served over roasted orzo and finished with Chardonnay butter and for a little touch of the south, collards on the side.  I loved this dish at Pearl’s Saltwater Grille.

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Savannah she-crab soup at Pearl’s Saltwater Grille was rich and creamy and full of crab, so it had to be good.

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Jimmy’s Seaside Sweets is a great stop for gelato and candy.




The gold dome of Savannah’s City Hall.

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Statue of Johnny Mercer, one of Savannah’s most famous residents.  He was a prolific song writer.

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Very entertaining street musician.

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We stopped in Savannah’s Candy Kitchen in City Market, a must-stop when walking in historic downtown. Get some pralines.

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You can’t pass up Paula Deen’s Store.

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This vase on this table in Goose Feathers Cafe caught my eye in the afternoon sun.

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This is the coolest door.  The honey is pretty good also at Savannah Bee Company.

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We didn’t go in here but I loved the sign.  Later I found out that I should have gone in here for some good oysters.

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Jazz’d is a really good tapas place.  I highly recommend this place for food but especially if Trey Gurley is singing Sinatra that night.

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Oysters in the half shell at the River House . I had been reading a book by M.F.K. Fisher called Consider the Oyster,  so I was in the mood.  The River House is in an old cotton warehouse building on River Street.


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After spending the afternoon in Savannah, we ate at The Olde Pink House. This is an elegant restaurant in an old mansion, built in 1771, in historic downtown Savannah.

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Beautiful decor in the Olde Pink House.

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Of course an appetizer of fried green tomatoes and my only salad of the week. The Olde Pink House knows their way around this southern delicacy. It was a good start to the meal.

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I can’t begin to express how delicious the flavor of these sautéed jumbo scallops in herb butter at the Olde Pink House.  They were plated with mixed beans and mashed potatoes. It was like eating at home, if your mom was a world-class chef and you lived in a 250 year-old pink mansion.


The east coast of the United States has some wonderful beaches for a vacation, but for my experience on Tybee Island and the nearness to Savannah, this Georgia location is hard to beat.  Pour yourself a tall glass of sweet tea and you are almost there.









Istanbul…Heybeliada Island



I feel we are all islands in a common sea—Anne Morrow Lindbergh


If you are in Istanbul and want to take a break from the sightseeing and want to relax, then hop on a ferry and head over to Heybeliada Island.  This is one of the Prince Islands, the second largest one in fact.  It sits off the coast of Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara,about a thirty minute ferry ride away.

Heybeliada Island is a wonderful  place to meander through the streets at your leisure.   There are no cars, except for service vehicles.  The late afternoon sun gave us wonderful lighting to explore this island of wooden houses and store buildings, many built during the late nineteenth century.

I was drawn to a bygone time as I walked the hilly streets and thought of all the families that summered there away from the big city.  I thought about how much I have in common with these folks that desire to live on this island, where the cares of life seem far away.  The feel is definitely more relaxed here on Heybeliada Island and worth a day away from the city.

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Leaving the city of Istanbul behind for a relaxing afternoon.


The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, built in 1857.


Orange Tree


Sandal Market


A shop now occupies one of the old houses.


Flower market.


Beautiful architecture of old houses. Many are now shops.


Taking a break to check out the activity on the street.


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In April on Heybeliada, wisteria was in full bloom.

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See the cat hidden behind the molding?

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A welcoming chair and table awaits on a deck.

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We had a late dinner on the pier before heading back to the Asian side of Istanbul.

Red River Rockhouse


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Never be so focused on what you are looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.—Ann Patchett


I have been trying to get the Missus to accompany me on a lunch date to the Red River Gorge.  I have been curious about the Red River Rockhouse since I heard about it from a friend about a year ago. I asked him what is so good about it and he said, “the cheeseburgers”.

Now I love a good burger as well as the next self-proclaimed foodie with a palate similar to eroding blacktop after a tough winter in Eastern Kentucky,  I just didn’t know if I wanted to drive the necessary forty-five minutes for the consumption. I realize most of us will drive even farther to proclaim a dining success.

The Red River Gorge is a gorg-eous place.  It draws tourists from across the country, most it seems come from Ohio.  On any given weekend, the population of Powell and Wolfe Counties is inflated with folks from north of the Ohio River.

The planets must have aligned last week because I got my lovely wife to agree to that lunch date.  We met some out-of-town friends (who amazingly were not from Ohio) through a planned consequence. Now I know you are not familiar with this term, so I will explain.  We talked about meeting for lunch the next day and I would send a text to confirm.  However my friend, who was staying in the lodge at Natural Bridge State Park, did not have cell service and did not get my text saying we would meet them at 1:00 PM that day.  The plan did not materialize, however they showed up anyway and we had really nice time.

Now the important stuff.  If you are going to the Red River Gorge to hike, camp, canoe, kayak, bird watch, or just get out of Ohio, you need to stop in at the Red River Rockhouse for a simple meal of good food.  The menu is not exhaustive, it is written on a chalkboard.  The food is simple but the taste is not. Evidently the Ohioans love a good burger or the selection of craft beers, because it was a busy place.

We started with guacamole and chips, both house-made. I highly recommend this as a starter.  One order was enough for the four of us.

Next I ordered the aptly named Heavenly Cheeseburger. The menu says it is local grass-fed beef topped with cheese made with milk from a local dairy.  I don’t know the difference in grassfed and grainfed beef as far as the taste (I refer to the previous description of my palate), I just know this is one of the best cheeseburgers I have ever eaten.  It came with a side of hand cut fries, or should I say a hillside of fries.  There were a lot of fries and all of them were good.

My wife ordered a burrito.  On the menu, it is described as “a fatty burrito”.  Hello Captain Obvious.  It was the size of a small sombrero.  It took three people two days to eat it all.

Don’t let the unassuming exterior fool you, this is high quality food served by a friendly staff in a beautiful area of Kentucky.


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Guacamole and chips for starters.

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Heavenly cheeseburger and fries, always a good choice here.

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Strap on an appetite to tackle the burrito.

Istanbul…Two Continents in One Afternoon


Istanbul…the constant beating of the wave of the East against of the rock of the West.—Susan Moody

We had an afternoon to explore some of the sights of Istanbul.  We were visiting my son’s family and baby sitting our granddaughter while in Istanbul.  We spent a lot of time in a park and playground of Kadikoy.  However we were able to take an afternoon and see some wonderful sights.

We ferried across the Bosphorus Strait to the European side of Istanbul, or what you really old folks may call Constantinople.  We grabbed lunch off one of the boats selling fresh fish sandwiches and an order of pickles.  This was a very unique dining experience and I loved the taste of both the fish and pickles.  We ate on the landing.

After our lunch, we headed over to the spice market.  What an incredible experience this was.  Normally, I am not a shopper but I was enthralled at all of the stuff for sale here.  We bought some Turkish Delight, of course.  We also bought some decorative tiles and some scarves.  There was great temptation to buy more, but we showed great restraint.

After the spice market, we boarded a train to take us to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

We were not allowed to enter the Blue Mosque but were allowed in the courtyard.  It is an impressive mosque and the grounds were beautiful as the tulips were in bloom.

The Hagia Sophia was an incredible architectural marvel, considering when it was built.  I loved looking at the ceilings. I also loved looking at the remnants of Christianity before it was converted to a mosque, a microcosm of Istanbul itself.  Although I shouldn’t use the term “micro” in the same context as the Hagia Sophia. One minor disappointment was construction going on inside, so scaffolding blocked some of the views.  I realize this is the chance you take going to see old historical buildings that need constant repair and restoration.  I am glad it is being done.

I can’t wait for the next time to visit Istanbul and be able to see more of the historical sites.  One afternoon was memorable.

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Waiting on the ferry to take us across the Bosphorus Strait, from Asia to Europe.


Seen from the ferry, the Blue Mosque on the left and Hagia Sophia on the right.


A closer view of the Hagia Sophia.

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In the spice market.

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Of course there are spices for sale in the spice market.

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And delicious Turkish Delight.

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Colorful plates and cups for sale in the spice market.

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Beautiful lamps in the spice market.

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One of the many fountains in Istanbul.

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Tulips in bloom outside the Blue Mosque.


Up close at the Blue Mosque.


Courtyard of the Blue Mosque.

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Hagia Sophia


Domes of the Hagia Sophia.

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Large carpet of tulips outside Hagia Sophia.

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Inside the Hagia Sophia remnants of Christianity and Islam can be seen.

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Remnants of a Christian mural inside the Hagia Sophia.


Istanbul…Sezer’s Barber Shop in Kadikoy

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Even though you know a thousand things, ask the man who knows one.—Turkish proverb


One of my favorite experiences in Istanbul was going to Sezer’s Barber Shop.

Sezer’s Barber Shop is in Kadikoy, a large borough of Istanbul on the Asian side.  I was staying with my son and his family in the area.  He likes Sezer and wanted me to meet him.  Sezer has helped my son with his Turkish.  Sezer was one of the few folks in Kadikoy I found that spoke impeccable English. Because of this we were able to converse all during my visit to his barber shop.

I think, while traveling, if you can find one person who is native to that country and engage in conversation about their life and culture, you have enhanced your trip tremendously.

Pardon me as I pontificate, but we Americans tend to be burdensome when we travel.  I’m sure you aren’t one of these Americans.  But as a whole, we seem to want things the way we get them in America.  If that is the case why travel outside of America?

Sezer and I were able to ask each other about the other’s country.  He was intrigued by America and curious as to what we Americans thought about his fellow Turks.  Turks love to engage about politics and from what I could surmise, probably handle their differences better than Americans at the moment.

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This was the first head shave I have ever received by a professional barber and I was glad Sezer was the one to perform this task.  As you can see, he did a magnificent job but could only work with the subject at hand.  After my shave, he offered us Turkish coffee or chai tea.  This is customary in his shop, part of his service.  My son and I opted for the coffee since I had been drinking chai tea the entire time in Istanbul.  I was also curious about making Turkish coffee.  He could be a barista, the coffee was very good.

My experience at Sezer’s Barber Shop was very comforting.  His hospitality was refreshing. Two people from different backgrounds and countries were able to enjoy each other’s company and that made my trip memorable.

If you need a shave or a haircut in Kadikoy, see Sezer.  He will treat you right.

Istanbul…Not just Turkish Delight Here

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Without effort, there is no food.—Turkish proverb

Like the history of Istanbul, this post is relatively long.  I am going to talk about all of the food we ate while staying here for five days…and I like to eat good food.

At one time Istanbul was on many travel lists as the most visited city in the world.

Though it has fallen some spaces on those lists, doesn’t mean the city has changed.  People’s perceptions of the city has changed and that is unfortunate, at least from my perspective.

My wife and I were in Istanbul, not so much as tourists but as babysitters for a week.  We flew in from Munich on Pegasus Air.  We went to visit some family and be with our granddaughter. We were in parks and playgrounds and did not see many of the traditional tourist sites.  We interacted with many people in shops, markets, restaurants, parks, and playgrounds.  Of course this was based on their ability to speak some English and our inability to speak any Turkish at all.  But let me tell you the people were very friendly.

But, again, this blog is about the food I ate in Istanbul.  I would go back for the food alone, even if my granddaughter wasn’t there.

We stayed in Kadikoy, one of the boroughs of Istanbul.  It is on the Asian side. It is considered the most secular area of Istanbul and the most artsy.

We began our first full day with a trip to the markets to procure elements to assemble a take on a Turkish breakfast.  This is no light breakfast, but probably healthier than most American breakfasts.  A traditional Turkish breakfast includes cheeses, breads with jams or honey, eggs, sliced vegetables or greens, and of course…chai tea. We had most elements but did not have the eggs.



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One of the local markets in Kadikoy.

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The bakery was intimidating for me, since I don’t speak Turkish.  My daughter-in-law has workable Turkish language skills and she was able to navigate the crowded local bakery.  I just took pictures and enjoyed the experience.  I was able to go back to this same bakery later in the week to get some bread for  lunch.  I went on my own with my Turkish vocabulary of four words and was able to buy the bread I wanted.  The staff was really nice to me.

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This is the end result of our shopping for ingredients for the Turkish breakfast.

On Mondays in one of the parks in Kadikoy, there is a pazar.  I was not prepared for the amount of food that would be on sale.  It was incredible.  I could have stayed there all day.

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Beautiful olives.

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The yellow plums on the right were one of the best things I ate in Istanbul.

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Artichokes in water.

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I believe these are mixed peppercorns.

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The biggest raspberries I have ever seen.


One of my favorite things we did was ride the ferry over to the European side of Istanbul. You can buy some chai tea and drink on the ferry. Very nice.

At the end of the ferry ride we bought some fresh anchovy fish sandwiches right off the boat.  They were served with some sour pickles.  I loved it, my wife thought it was a little fishy for her.

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Fresh anchovy fish sandwich right off the boat.


After touring some of the historic sites, I bought an ear of corn from one of the many street vendors.  Corn in my home of eastern Kentucky is a popular staple. You may question my desire to eat some in Istanbul, but good roasted corn is good anywhere… and Istanbul street vendors are no exception to serving good grilled corn and it is cheap and easy to get.

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We had a sweet, late afternoon treat, stopping for baklava and chai tea at Karakoy Gullouglu.


We had an evening meal at Banadura Adana Kebapcisi. The owner was very nice and he informed us that he used only tomatoes from his native region of Turkey around Adana. He served us complimentary salads with these tomatoes.  They were so good.  Our food here was extraordinary, a very lovely meal with good, friendly service.

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Salads with tomatoes from the Adana region of Turkey.

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Delicious bread as a starter.

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Really good Adana kebap at Banadura.

Our last afternoon, we took the ferry over to the island of Heybeliada, one of the Prince Islands of the coast of Istanbul.  It is a lovely place, reminiscent of days gone by.  We had dinner at Adaturka Kafe Restoran.  This restaurant was just ok, however I did like the fried anchovies, the kaffka, and the salad.  Unfortunately, this was my wife’s least favorite meal in Istanbul.

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A row of cafes on the boat docks on Heybeliada Island.IMG_2738 2

I loved the fried anchovies at Adaturka Kafe Restoran, my wife did not.

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The kofte was pretty tasty here.

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Meals at home were very good. My daughter-in-law fixed delicious food for us with wonderful produce from the Istanbul markets.

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I think I assembled this plate of delicacies.  So easy with good food to choose from.


You will be able eat very well in Istanbul, my taste buds are longing for a return.

Of course if you are looking for some Turkish Delight, I can think of no better place than Istanbul.









Day 6…Goodbye Austria, Hello Munich

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The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.—St. Augustine of Hippo


We woke up this morning to our last day in Austria.  We had a tasty breakfast in the garden of Hotel Nala and checked out.  We loved this hotel.

We ventured into Old Town again with the children in tow and the ladies went to shop and the men performed their duties admirably with the children and kept them alive. Innsbruck is such a lovely city to wander in, good shopping, good eating, good architecture to admire, and of course the Alps are everywhere in the background.

We spent our morning in Old Town and gathered for lunch on the main pedestrian walk, Maria-Theresien-Strasse, and ate at Sensei for very good sushi. Afterward we enjoyed some gelato at Tomasseli Gelateria which is nearby.

We had a wonderful stay in Innsbruck and we loaded up and headed off for the two-hour drive to Munich.

In Munich, we stayed at Hotel Olympic.  I need to say something about this hotel.  It was very nice and the staff was very friendly and helpful.  The hotel is located conveniently near the Viktualienmarkt and an easy walk to Marienplatz.  There are numerous multicultural restaurants in the area. I researched the hotel online and it had good reviews and I will give it a good review here.  Rick Steves book described it as “artsy”. However, I must tell you if you have an aversion to nudity in art, you may want to ask for a room that displays art that is more suited to your tastes.  My son, who has a small daughter was given a room with a graphic orgy scene.  The manager was called and he gracefully removed it and all was well.

We had already seen Frauenkirche on the day we landed in Munich five days ago. That day we had lunch on the plaza outside the church.  We had an assortment of cheeses and sausages and sauerkraut at Nurnberger Bratwurst-Glockl am Dom. The food was very good.  We used this time to have a reunion meal with our family that we hadn’t seen for many months since they had moved to Turkey.

Back to the day at hand.  After checking in at Hotel Olympic, my son-in-law took our rental van back to the airport.  While he was gone, we took the kids on a stroll to a park by the Isar River that runs through Munich.  We met up with him later and had our evening meal at an Afghani restaurant across from our hotel, called Bamyan Narges.

We had a wonderful dinner here. All the dishes were excellent.  My wife and I ordered Keema Bamyan for appetizer and an entrée of Quabelli Palau with grilled lamb.

Afterward, we went for a walk and found some good ice cream.  It had been a good day of Innsbruck and Munich.

Next, our first full day in Munich.

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One of the ornate facades in Old Town Innsbruck.

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A narrow street in Old Town Innsbruck.

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Row buildings in Innsbruck.

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A window in Old Town Innsbruck.

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One of the many outdoor sitting areas in Innsbruck.

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Sensei is upstairs, not the restaurant on the ground floor.

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Really, really good sushi at Sensei Sushi Bar and outdoor dining is available.

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Tomaselli gelateria has delicious gelato in Innsbruck.

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Hotel Olympic in Munich is a very good hotel with questionable art, but  very good service and the location is perfect for Old Munich.

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Wonderful dining on the plaza of Frauenkirche in Munich.

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I previously took photos of golf courses, now it is dining experiences.  This is another view of the outdoor dining on the plaza of Frauenkirche in Munich. We ate Nurnberger Bratwurst-Glockl am Dom, which is on the right.

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Sausage, cheese, and radish platter at Nurnberger.

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St. Maximillian Church in Munich.

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The bank of the Isar River is a popular gathering destination in Munich. St. Maximillian Church is in the background.

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Bamyan serves delicious Afghani food in Munich.

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Keema Bamyan at Bamyan.

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Quabelli Palau with grilled lamb was excellent at Bamyan.

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Street scene near the Hotel Olympic.

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Sunset clouds on our first night in Munich.

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Ice cream of course at the end of a good day.









Innsbruck, Austria…Day 4

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The mountains are calling and I must go.—John Muir


I don’t know if John Muir was ever in Innsbruck.  If this is how he felt, he may never have left.

I don’t know who the official pretty city-rating people are, but if I was in that group, Innsbruck, Austria would definitely be at the top of my list. It sits in a valley completely surrounded by the Alps, which were snow-covered while we were there.  It takes effort to keep from being photo bombed by an Alp when taking a picture.

We arrived in late morning after a night in Schloss Matzen Castle.  We checked into the Hotel Nala which has to be the coolest hotel ever.  Even the website is cool.  I can’t express the level of coolness of this hotel…and very artsy.

While waiting for all the rest of the crew, my wife and I had a glass of Riesling in the beautiful courtyard.  We then headed out for lunch at Machete Burrito Kartell. I must say this was the best burrito I have ever eaten.

We found a nice playground and park across the Inn River that runs through Innsbruck.  We let the children play and some of us older adults rest. Of course on the way to the park we stopped so my daughter and I could get a pretzel and a croissant to eat on the way to the park.

We walked around the Old Town in Innsbruck.  It is a very easy stroll through this part of the city.  We loved the wide pedestrian Herzog-Freidrich-Strasse with its outdoor cafes and shops and historic buildings.  Innsbruck’s Old Town has a nice mix of old and new.  The old buildings intertwine with modern shopping.

We saw the Golden Roof, probably the most recognized spot in the Old Town. Built around 1500 and used by Emperor Maximillian I and his wife to gaze down on the festivals and stay above the tourists.

We also saw St. Anne’s column on Maria-Theresien Street.  It was built in 1703. When you are lost from your group, this is a good place to meet, very easy to find.

Old Town in Innsbruck is very lovely and relaxing. Innsbruck has such a different feel from other cities in Europe that I have seen. It is much more laid back.  We were there in early April, so I’m sure it gets much more crowded in the summer.  We had a pleasant day, in the 60’s and sunny.

We decided to get take out pizza for our dinner since we were tired and didn’t want to take the children out again.  There is a really nice pizza place across from the Hotel Nala called Gusto Pizzeria.  It is owned by a lovely Turkish couple.  The pizza was really good.  But a word of warning, if you want a Margherita pizza, it means cheese only in Turkey. There was a communication problem but it was my fault because I did not read the description that was in English. It was a really good cheese pizza.  The other pizza was very good also.

It was a good day in Innsbruck.

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We started with a nice glass of Riesling in the courtyard of the Hotel Nala.

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Christ’s statue on the Innbrucke Bridge.

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Triumphal Arch leading into the Old Town.

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Best burrito ever was eaten here.

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Row buildings overlooking the Inn River.

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One of the parks in Innsbruck.

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Trees were in bloom in early April.

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The Alps are always peeking into the Old Town.

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Many wonderful outdoor cafes are in Innsbruck on the main pedestrian thoroughfare.

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The City Tower was built in 1450.  You can climb the 133 steps to the top for a stunning view.

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One of the many interesting buildings in Innsbruck.

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Beautiful row of buildings in Innsbruck.

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St. Anne’s Column in the old marketplace.

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So much fun in Innsbruck just walking around.

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Modern stores in old Innsbruck.

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Interesting display on a balcony.

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Good pizza here with friendly service and owners.

Next up, another day in Innsbruck and a train ride to Garmish, Germany.