Gratitude and Torte Bakery, Ortaköy, Istanbul

You know I forgot something really important the other day. I forgot to be grateful: I am in one of the greatest cities in the world.


Oh you know. It’s just the Bosphorus on a quiet January morning.

It’ll be our weekiversary on Saturday and I totally almost forget to get a gift. I know what would have happened next: the city would start to get all passive-aggressive and I would be all “don’t you want to watch CSI with Turkish subtitles?”, and Istanbul would say “NO. I don’t want to watch William Petersen follow the evidence again and again, I want you to change!” And then I would leave the room in a huff (“CITIES. Who can understand cities?!”) and then Istanbul would be all distant and I would be all wounded and then I’d watch offbeat comedy romances in the dark and eat baklava on end.

I am grateful to be here in Istanbul. That one creep is not going to ruin my adventure because I refuse to believe that he represents this wonderful city. Come, sit on my proverbial Turkish rug and I’ll tell you about my day, yes?

This day was different. I could feel it. I walked out today knowing that I would be safe and sound and that I would find something good because I had hope in my heart and I was thankful to be here. I am thankful to be here. The people here are unique, the sights, the food, the smells…I am somewhere new and I am free. I began my morning by roaming around Ulus, Taksim, and Ortaköy until I wasn’t really sure where I was. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Here’s what I am grateful for today and subsequent things I’ve learned about Turkey:

  • I am grateful for a healthy and strong body. Walking is the best way to get around Istanbul if you have only a slight inkling of where you’re going and what you’ll do for the day. It’s recommended by me if you 1. have a smart phone to make sure that you aren’t ending up in Bulgaria 2. want to live a choose your own adventure novel 3. have time to go slow and don’t need to cover a lot of ground and 4. want to rediscover that inner child in you (see number 2).
The first of many failed selfies.

The first of many failed selfies. Coordination is not a gift of mine.

  • I am grateful for languages and the language barrier. People in Turkey are very nice and they are even more happy if you make an attempt to learn a few phrases. The Turkish language is beautiful. Even more, I love that I am learning to listen and observe people to really understand them. That’s something I don’t normally get to do when I try to speak over someone in English.

Gratitude helped me on my tiny adventure and at the end of it I had a few cakes, cookies, and lots of happy. I ended up at the Torte Bakery Pastanesi in Ortaköy.

It's close to the street so hard to photograph all at once -- but it still has snow and Christmas decorations up and that's what made me trust it I think.

It’s close to the street so hard to photograph all at once — but it still has snow and Christmas decorations up and that’s what made me trust it I think.

Location: I got there by walking. There is a junction that connects Ulus and Ortaköy and kind of a center for traffic to fork off. There will be a mosque and you will go toward the Bosphorus Bridge and highway. You’ll find the sweet little bakery tucked in between some mechanics and salons. Sorry that I can’t be more specific on how I got there, but I’m learning…

Can you feel the charm? That's magic

Can you feel the charm? That’s magic

With a “merhaba” and a few pseudo sign language exchanges, the shop keeper came out from behind the counter to meet me and we exchanged what few Turkish words I know. “Benin adım Cookie” to which she responded that her name was (sounded something like) April. She was pretty funny and apologized that her English was only about “50/50”. I said that her shop was beautiful, I admired the pastries and the cakes and went to order some. But when my sweet tooth lingered over the cookies she said, “no, no moneys” and she scooped two up and handed me a bag like some angel. A saint, I say.



I tried to refuse but she insisted and I will be forever charmed by my new best friend April who I promised to come see again. I should also really photograph her next time when I’m no longer distracted by winsome sweets.

Because I went on an optimistic walk and because I stopped to talk to friendly Turkish locals I had a delightful day. Positively ravishing.

The day and the cookies were delicious.

For days like this, may my corneas and motor skills never meet.

For days like this, may my corneas and motor skills never meet.


One thought on “Gratitude and Torte Bakery, Ortaköy, Istanbul

  1. *sigh* I really wish I could wander those streets with you! It’s so true that you get to know a place so much better by walking! I’ve discovered so many places in Provo since I started walking and biking around (not to mention the great exercise I’ve been getting) I had no idea Provo was so cool!

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