Tuesday, June 30, 2015


First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for all the kind words sent my way, in comments or through emails— thank you so much. Rest assured, I'll continue to share my adventures with you here on Harika, and show you a different part of the world. At the moment I'm in Portugal for a little while, in a state of in-between, and will be saying my long farewell to Turkey through the following string of posts.

Once again, thank you!

Monday, June 29, 2015

so this is it

It is the end of an era. Nearly seven years after my first post from the bare floors of my apartment in San Francisco, I'm sitting on a plush hotel bed looking at three suitcases, wondering where the time has gone. As it was back then, it is surreal— I can't quite believe that I'll be leaving Turkey in a few hours... What to say? I have lived longer in Istanbul than in any other place in my life. It is, it was my home.

Çok teşekkür ederim— thank you, and görüşürüz!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

rainbows and pepper gas

The air still stings of gas, and I can feel it in my throat— I'm taking a quick break from The Little Aegean Road Trip to show you some of the photos I took from the lead up to Istanbul's LGBTI Pride Parade today. We knew it was a bad sign when bus loads of police were arriving in the Taksim area, and when every side street stemming from Istiklal was blocked off by lines of policemen armed with guns and gas masks. Soon, the TOMA vehicles were moving in.

According to the Hurriyet Daily News, the governor of Istanbul made a last-minute decision to ban the parade without warning, using Ramadan as an excuse. In spite of the so-called ban, people continued to celebrate in Taksim's many alleyways, and the mood was festive.

Friday, June 26, 2015


The steepest theatre of the ancient world with a capacity of around 10,000 spectators, the ampitheatre of Pergamon is truly awesome. Though the main structure dates back to the 3rd Century BCE, it was renovated and added to by the Romans and Byzantines. Imagine sitting among the people of ancient Pergamon, looking out over a pristine valley, waiting for the performance to start...

What would it have been like?

Thursday, June 25, 2015



The remains of what was once one of the most powerful Ancient Greek city-states in Anatolia lie scattered across a hilltop in what is now Bergama. Pergamon is breathtaking even in ruin, and it's easy to imagine the city's past splendour when weaving in and out between the columns of the Temple of Trajan, and simply looking up— marble faces frozen among the intricate patterns carved with great care and skill.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

the many layers of troy

The morning sky was pale and edged with a heavy blue that promised rain. Though we knew it was inevitable, we continued to explore the layered ruins of Troy, hoping that those first drops we felt on our faces would be the last. What followed would send us running for cover, taking refuge under an awning built to protect one of the outer walls of the ancient city. It must have been about half an hour or so before the rain stopped, just enough time for a splotchy sketch.

worn stone

lest we forget

We passed through Gallipoli only days before the centennial, and the peninsula was full of visitors from Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. As I watched the people who were so obviously not from around here, with their sunburned skin and khaki shorts, so far away from home, I felt a knot in my gut. I don't really know what it means to them, this history; how this piece of land and its blood-soaked soil can pull so many back to it, all the way from the far ends of the Earth— and all regions of Turkey. It is terrible and heart-breaking, and yet so wonderful— wonderful that the names carved into stone monuments and tomb markers will not be forgotten, that those whose names were lost to time, will be thought of.

I do not have much of a national identity nor a tie to specific histories, and there were many times throughout my life that I envied my friends who knew they were from somewhere— they knew what they belonged to. I can only imagine what it must feel like to buy that ticket and plan the trip to Gallipoli, to arrive under a clear blue sky and walk between the immaculate white stones, gazing at the bay...

It must be overwhelming.

Though I am not a Turk, an Australian, a New Zealander, or from anywhere connected to the history of this peninsula, I am always deeply moved when I visit Gallipoli.