Belgrad Forest, İstanbul.

I don’t know why I didn’t take my rain jacket with me on the adventure to Belgrad Forest. When I left the house the sky looked clear but I should have known better. On the boat ride from the Asian side to the European side, the ten minute ride became indeed a transcontinental journey – the sun was replaced with a grey and stormy canopy. 

Once we set foot in Europe, we had to find our next ferry boat to the fishing village – the ferry station closest to the forrest. The moment we embarked on that boat, like the change in music on a film,  it became misty.  Light rain was blowing in my face and I kept having to wipe my camera lense. The struggle of trying to be a photographer. 

The second bridge, Fatih Sultan Mehmet. 

I wasn’t able to fully wipe my camera lenses before taking the photo below. It was a scene that eyes only could really capture, but I tried. How often we forget to be grateful for the eyes God has gifted us with. How ungrateful we are for all the gifts God has bestowed upon us. 

” If you are grateful, I ( God ) will surely increase you ”  – Quraan 14:7

The fishermen, their boats and the seagulls. The perfect fishing scene.

An hour later, when we got off the ferry, this spectacular view welcomed us. The mist was slowly covering the hill. Slowly, slowly; inch by inch. May God cover our shortcomings the way the mist beautifully covered the hills, with such gentleness. 

The quaint village was peaceful; on the shores of the Bosphorus; at the foot of the hills. It was a Friday, close to the afternoon prayer. We decided that it would be best to pray before continuing with our adventure.

Halfway through the prayer sermon I heard the rain falling heavily outside. I knew I was in for a real adventure! Praise be to God that the rain became more intermittent by the time we finished our prayer. 

We hailed a taxi to the forrest entrance.  The drive there was an appetizer into the coming beauty we were to feast on. 

Perfection in God’s creation. 

A bit disoriented, we weren’t sure which trail we should walk on! But once we made up our minds, the first thing that welcomed us ( after the large dogs! ) was this beautiful fountain. The marble and brass somehow didn’t fit in with the scenery around.  I later was told that it was mountain spring water.  Perhaps those who build the fountain really knew its value more than I appreciated.  I washed my face with its icy cold, refreshing water, but did not know it was safe to drink. 

Here are some photos I took along the way to our picnic spot.

The photo below is one of my favourites because of the meaning it carries to me. It’s just a bark of wood. But look how beautiful it is. If I adorn myself with beautiful attributes and a beautiful character. Internal beauty does express itself externally.  And like this bark that protects the tree, it also becomes life giving to others around – the moss and lichens. If you turn the picture to the side, doesn’t it look like a mountain with jagged rocks and trees?

” Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. ” 

We were trying to find a place to have a bite to eat when we decided to go off the pebbled trail and onto a dirt trail. To our surprise, we ended up in front of a beautiful lake! In one of the photos you can see the sun emerging! What a difference there is between the mist and the sun. Between the seeing and the blind…. 

By the time we ate, performed our late afternoon prayer — I really enjoyed praying on the leaves — the sun came out. Below, you will see the difference the sun makes. Change is all around us.  We were born to transform and become the best we can be. 

I also tried capturing raindrops. Here are some of the photos I took.

Beauty is all around us… through rain or shine. If only we learn to recognize it and truly appreciate it.

” Grow flowers of gratitude in the soil of hardships and ease.”

We started leaving the forest forty-five minutes before sundown. By the time the sun set, we were in a taxi on the way home. It was a beautiful day filled with signs from God. And the sun came out! It is proof again that the sun does come out after the storm. Don’t despair. And if you know where to look, you might even find a rainbow.

For every bird chirping, every leaf falling, every dog barking, for every blow of the wind and every chipmunk’s call to his friend, are personal messages from God to me. 

If only we listen more than we speak, we would perhaps be able to hear those messages. 


Listen. Hear. Reflect. 

Our weekend adventure.

After a weary week, we decided to venture to a place we’ve never been to before.  To be explorers.

We chose a park in Kadıköy and caught a cloudy sunset. We made many new cat friends… Who would’ve thought that near the sea of Marmara is a cat sanctuary where cats chill and watch the boats go by. Over fifty cats longing for human contact – intimidating at times, even for our most avid cat lovers. But all rules have to have exceptions… We found the one. Small and scared. We called him Scaredy Cat.

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There was a bride doing a photoshoot and many having çay. Many food stalls were already closed for the winter.

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As we looked out into the open sea of Marmara and the Prince Islands, my companion asked me: “Would you like to live on that island?“. I really didn’t know how to answer. Maybe I’d like to. Maybe I wouldn’t. I never thought of living on an island.

We watched many big boats make their way to the Bosphorus, either just passing through or docking to unload or already on their return trip.

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Time passed quickly. The sun set and we heard the call to prayer. We prayed at a small underground masjid, in a congregation with mainly restaurant workers. We said goodbye to the sea of Marmara, but we all hoped to be back in the near future.  Especially my mother. I saw how much she enjoyed it by the smile and sparkle in her eyes. When surrounded by natural beauty the heart easily relaxes and finds contentment.

Soon the lights on the Prince Islands turned on, and we knew it was time to head home. As we walked under fairy lights, our cat friends bid us farewell. They seemed to be beckoning us to return soon.

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I’m sure that in the middle of summer, the park is noisy and filled with children running and playing, people having picnics and men sipping çay and smoking.  But today there were only a handful on couples scattered around the park, wearing a sweater or shawl. Winter is approaching and the park is growing silent, becoming dormant.

As soon as we walked off the small peninsula where the park is located, we were reminded that we were in a city of 17 million people.

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Sometimes unexpected adventures are the best! And this adventure proved it again.