Happiness is …

With today being the International day of happiness, (Yeeey :))) the main purpose and subject of this blog, I see no better ocasion than to share with you what I promised a few days ago: the list of things that make me happy. It’s definitely just the beginning, but here goes, in no particular order:

1. The sun – when I feel the sun on my face, I feel definitely happier everytime.

2. Seeing our daughter experience something for the first time. There is a great great feeling to see a child’s eyes light-up when they see or find out something new and exciting. It’s like they are getting a step closer to understanding the world. For me, the best feeling is that I can influence in a good way this journey of discovery. My hope is, that with the right tools shared by us during the childhood, she can make the best choices by herself when she will grow up.

3. Sweets. (I’m not even going to pretend feeling guilty about it.) 🙂 I’m sure there is someone out there that can think it’s a  bad choice, but the reasons that make someone happy shouldn’t be explained. 😉

4. Good food. Again, no guilt. Even I gained weight recently I am more happier than I was when I was skinny so, again, not guilty. (The weight gained it’s not connected with the food, which was there all along, only my body’s condition changed, for the better in the end, by quiting smoking and birth control pills.)

5. Traveling. As far as I have experienced until now, everything changes when you go on the road. The perspective gained by the distance can only make things clearer and better. And then are the new things you always, always find out when you travel. I love that. It makes me feel richer and more complete.

6. Watching ” Friends”. I am, and always will be, a fan of this series. It just makes me happy.

7. Learning something new, if possible everyday. This is my strongest addiction, and the only positive one. 🙂 Even if the smallest, unsignificant piece of information ever, if it makes “click!” with some of the ones I already have, I am happy! 🙂

8. Cooking. Things that make me happy, in time, not really changed but evolved naturally. Cooking is something I always did since I was a little girl, but never knew how to appreciate it’s true impact on my life until I got older…I guess it’s never too late.. 😉

9. Photography. Learning photography brought to my life the gift of learning to observe the world as if I would be looking trough a camera, and the importance of perspective, theoretical or phisical. ( I tend to generalize, but it really did this for me.) When you look though a camera, you have to really see. It changes everything. I will ellaborate on it later, it is definitely one of the posts I just have to write.

10. Writing – sharing with you my thoughts – this blog brought this to me and I couldn’t be more grateful. There is a great great feeling in coming in contact with your peers, the people that have shared interests to yours. So, thank you all for being there and reading. and giving me the oportunity to read your thoughts also. 🙂

I wish you happiness! 🙂

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Istanbul, the non touristy way: Üsküdar – Kanaat Locantasi

Because  I am in Istanbul for a while living together with my Turkish family, I thought I would share with you some of the-ouside-of-the-touristic-path places to eat and experience, that are truly authentic and delicious.

Today, Üsküdar.

The district of Üsküdar is one of Istanbul’s oldest-established residential areas. Being just a ferry ride away from the European side, and cheaper, it is the residential area of choice of many people, including numerous students. If you will go, you will witness first-hand the daily commute of the people working or studying on the other side of the Bosphorus, while admiring the spectacular view that they are just unbelievably lucky to see everyday.

Usually Üsküdar is not visited by many tourists, and it is, if you like this kind of approach, one of the places you can have the real Turkish experience, away from the touristic path.  Very near to the ferry station of Üsküdar, (which can be reached with a short ferry trip from any of the European-side ferry stations), there is a market where you can find anything, from spices and pickles, fresh vegetables, meat and fish. I recommend to you to buy some domates salçası – tomato paste and Biber salçası – pepper paste  (aci biber if you prefer hot). You can use them in your home-made food and believe me they will make it taste terrific. The ones my Turkish mother-in-law always buys are the ones sold by kilo in the market, not the store already pre-packed types, as they are more delicious, so I am doing the same.

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Turkish people have a proverbial commercial talent, and even if they will not speak your language they will find a way to be of service. So, if you are interested in acquiring some specific Turkish goodies, here is a better priced, less tourist- oriented therefore more authentic option.

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On the main street coming from the ferry station, Selmanipak Caddesi,  there is the Kanaat Locantasi, a family restaurant is famous in Istanbul that I recommend you visit for a hearty Turkish traditional meal.

Depending on your available time, you can start with a selection of some of the house meze (appetizers) or  a Turkish çorba, continue with a meat main course – lamb is particularly good here, or you can choose a traditional home-made course option like kurufasulye or nohut accompanied by pilav and the house ayran. Whatever you eat, it is guaranteed by the many returning Turkish customers (the place is packed almost all day) that you will have a genuine experience. Oh, and do try the house sweets, they are fresh and delicious!

Keep in mind, being an authentic Turkish place means it is not a fancy one, as the people here enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

The staff is speaking good-enough English to be of service, also the menus have English translation. But the best part is that you can see the food and choose what you want to eat. Being a more traditional place, keep in mind that here you won’t find alcohol in the menu, and you need to pay in cash.

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http://www.kanaatlokantasi.com.tr/

Hope you can take advantage more of your next trip to Istanbul, and if you have any questions, ask me in the comments and I will do my best to answer.

To be continued… 🙂