Turkish Family Vacation on the Bodrum Peninsula

I’m baaaaaack. Ok maybe that is a tad creepy – but I am back on the interwebz. Now at first I was a “tad bit miffed” (yes Kimber that is a shout out to you) that I was without internet, but then I came to accept it and quite frankly loved it. I really was able to just let my mind wander and really enjoy the piktoresk (picturesque) views that I was experiencing for free. I did come across internet for about 15 minutes on two random occasions and opening my inbox to 100+ emails and having many messages in whatsapp certainly put a smile on my face – thank you to all of you who wished me well on my travels (:

Map from the Underwater Archaeology Museum – I was super close to Greece!

My holiday wrap up (the short version)

– a good time was had by all 8 of us in the summer house (baba – host dad, aysel hanım – host mom, Özlem – host sister, Özge – host sister, Teyze – aunt, Cansu – cousin, Azusa – Japanese roommate and myself)

– many big bellied Turkish men were spotted

– the consumption of refrigerated figs equated to my body weight (my daily afternoon snack)

– Turkish balcony and garden cooking and eating was a daily event

– salty hair and a sun-kissed bod was had

– hills were run

– books were read

– thesis was worked on (shocking – I know)

– awkward moments were endured

– and memories were made

View of the Aegean from Host Family’s Summer Home

Figs = my most consumed food on vacation. How I have lived this long without having a refrigerated fresh fig is beyond me

the long version if you happened to be a tad bit in withdrawl of zee blog (cough cough – mi mums) or if you are bored and wanna read further – not all is covered but a fair amount.

Thursday

Thursday marked the start of my tatil (holiday – vacation) with my Turkish host family and all I knew at the start was that the Aegean Sea would be waiting for me at the end of a 12 hour long busride. 12 hour bus ride – yeah a bit much but with it an overnight bus and me being able to sleep basically anywhere I knew that the 12 hours would speed by and I would soon be getting blinded by bright sun and blue waters and I was definitely not mistaken. All I could think when we finally could seaside was “WOW” and “this looks a lot like Greece”. The PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) are world known for their coastal towns with white houses, purple flowers and views of the sea that are endless, but I don’t think as many people are aware that Turkey boasts these picturesque and sublime for painting towns too. Living on the sea is such a laid back lifestyle, I don’t blame my host dad for escaping for the entire summer to live down here either – for one thing the air is a great deal cleaner than that in Ankara and the hills make for good exercise – seems like a healthier lifestyle to me already (:

Friday

Friday morning when we got in we headed to the summer house and since my host mom had shared a few photos with me I had a tad bit of a hankering of what to expect, but seeing the real deal is just better. Sometimes a picture just can’t capture the entire essence of a place, but that’s ok because if pictures could no one would ever feel a need to travel. After enjoying a grand Turkish breakfast on the front porch we headed on down to the sea. The neighborhood runs a bus service to get people up and down the hill – while the walk down isn’t bad, the walk up sure is a doozy. Friday started my daily routine of chilling by the sea, sun-tanning, reading, going for a swim and listening to music. Sure other things happened, but I became like a dog with a predictable schedule. Just watching all the kids running around made for good smiles too.  Evenings were spent hanging around with the family (I got to meet another aunt, a cousin and the eldest daughter of my host parents). Great people and enjoying big Turkish dinners with 8 people around the table felt just right. Now my host mother was the only one fasting during Ramazan, but Ramazan didn’t end – initiating the beginning of Şeker Bayram (Sweet Holiday) until Saturday’s Sunset call to prayer. This meant that we would all wait around until we heard the firework go off before chowing down. I was a fan because it allowed the ability to fully watch the sunset. Not to mention after being in Turkey for almost 3 months I am adjusted to not eating until 8:30. In fact, we ate earlier during Ramazan since my host mother would break fast which was around 8-8:15. Dinner would conclude with dessert and of course there after copious amounts of Turkish tea were to be had and chilling in the swinging chair reading was to be done (hammocks still rank higher in my book though).

My daily view down on the docks

The docks where I soaked up the sun – this was in the early morning, by noon the place was buzzing with vacationers

Saturday

Saturday started my morning routine with my host father of getting up around 7:30 walking down to the sea going for a run and possibly a swim. The water was calm the sun was up and yet everyone seemed to have the same agenda of getting up early to do a little exercise – most were walking or swimming and then head home around 10 to partake in breakfast. I journeyed out on a good 7 mile run which started along the sea, but before I knew it I was on the other side of the port getting lost in the hills of neighborhoods and even ended up on the outskirts with dirt paths and barely traversed terrain. Saturday was also the morning that a cute Turkish lady called me “Marathon Girl” – I guess while I was out running Baba (Turkish dad) got around to telling all his swimming pals about me. Classic. After that it was breakfast, bathing suits on and heading back down to the docks for the day. Now while all of us “kids” headed down to the beach, Aysel Hanım (host mom) and Baba would stay back and chill at the summer house. When we came back it was always a surprise to see what Aysel Hanım had been cooking up all day. Saturday was probably the best, because when we returned it was to her making baklava. Gosh yes! My eyes were probably as big as saucers as I watched her roll out her homemade dough with her wooden rod. The woman has magic hands. If I didn’t love her already, that love was solidifed when I saw her making not one but 2 batches of baklava. Baklava is a common dessert that is made to celebrate Şeker Bayram. Dinner of course ensued and after that all of us ladies sat down and made yaprak şarma (stuffed wine leaves) together. Yes – I know how to turn a leaf into a vessel of goodness now – hopefully wine leaves can be found in the states because while these little guys are time consuming I just have to share the deliciousness with my family back home. That night when I fell asleep it really was a lights out type deal – not until I stirred the next morning with the sun creeping through the window did I realize how deep and soundly I had slept. I guess all the sun had its toll on me, but twas worth it.

Early stages of the baklava being made

Özlem kissing her wonderful mom

Sunday

Sunday was the actual celebration of the start of Şeker Bayram with lots of neighbors stopping by, tons of blessings being given, and all around happy people. Nothing to complain about when everyone is in good spirits. Baba and I nonetheless went down to the seaside for our morning exercise, mine of which was followed up by an interesting conversation with a Turkish lawyer. This guy was hilarious, knew absolutely no English, but somehow I figured out everything he was saying as long as he spoke slow. Naturally he like every other old Turkish man asked if there was a husband – these guys are obsessed with this question and labeling me as Turkish – I guess my bronzer skin though gives me a little bit more of a Turkish look – but no I am Amerikayalım (American). He was shocked when he found out I was American – I am to the point where I don’t know if it is a compliment or not. There were a few special dishes on the breakfast table (homemade börek and a few different dips) but my favorite of a homemade cherry preserve (usually not a fan of cherry things unless fresh, but this stuff was good) was there too. Also I copied my host mom by putting lemon in my tea and boy oh boy was it good. Definitely hit the spot – a burst of flavor for my taste buds to endure. That night we stayed up late chatting on the front porch – a funny conversation about arugula happened (host sister thought I said regular) haha and then we had the whole family trying to figure out what the word was in Turkish – the dictionary failed me. Finally we figured it out though. My host sister learned that there was a country called Jordan (and yes it is Jordan in Turkish too) and the host mother made sure that we all had a second dessert of ice-cream. If you want to make a diet (diyet yapmak – yes the literal translation in Turkish) then make sure that she is nowhere near your kitchen because it becomes about 20x harder. She is basically a personal chef – even her eldest who lives in Istanbul is soaking up as much of her mother’s cooking as she can – who can blame her though.  I just called her awesome and everyone was just like “yes” haha.

Where my run took me one day

The well earned views at the top of my 3 mile up hill run – needless to say the 3 miles back down were a lot easier

Found these little guys on one of my runs

Monday

I got up early to go for a run that led me way into the hills of the town and I actually ended up finding the dump (yes the garbage disposal place). Now this just proves that the eye sees what it wants to see, because I never think of garbage when on a luxurious holiday, but it is there nonetheless. This day surely left me a tad sore with running. I think I ran 3 miles up hills in all, but the views were well worth it and it made for my second adventure run while on vacation. Azusa and I decided to take a trip to the town of Bodrum which meant a relaxing 30 minute ride on a dolmuş. In Bodrum we checked out the castle that has an underwater archaeology museum in it. The museum showcased some of the shipwrecks in the Aegean and their recovered ruins. After the museum we went for lunch, I decided to have a salad so that later I could have a waffle. It seemed that all the little cafes were whipping up batches of waffles and while I love a hearty breakfast style waffle, I knew that a waffle topped with fresh fruit and ice-cream could not be passed up. So post lunch we did a little shopping and then found a café with a great view of the castle. The town was hopping with tourists who were staying many nights and with others who were only there for the day with their cruise ships docking in-port. Had a nice encounter with the Dönerci (man who sells Döner Kebabs) – who was super impressed that I knew Turkish as did a man who had himself a little leather shop. When Azusa was taking a picture of the sea a Turkish guy gave the thumbs up so I commented  “şaka şaka” – joke and he started to talk with us and when he found out I was American he said “ahhhh yes the Americans are so friendly” – I’ll take it. Going to tourist filled towns and shocking store owners with Turkish language skills that go beyond hello, goodbye and thank you is awesome – not to mention can score you a little bit more of a discount. This day was great because Azusa and I get along quite well – we even decided to switch music on the dolmuş ride back. To my shock and absolute amazement the songs she listened to were quite similar to what I have on my own playlist. No denying that I love a little bit of Flo Rida when running, Of Monsters and Men as my ringtone and Maroon 5 at anytime of day. I guess you could say the two of us are more alike than outsiders may presume. The girl has a wicked sense of humor which I can only imagine how great it is if I knew Japanese and she has no fear. I truly will miss my time with her but one day I will get her to visit me in Illinois and I will head on over to Japan.  This day also marked a first for me – the buying of cigarettes. Before you freak parentals they were not for me, but rather for the host sister. She called us right before we got back into town and asked us to. When we went into the store I simply asked “Winston Light sigara var mi?” and the guy said yes and handed them to us – now I probably sounded as American as possible with Winston Light prounced the American way and the rest in Turkish – the guy smiled though and we went on our way, back to the homestead where a delightful homemade dinner awaited us and exhaustion overtook me.

May have chased a peacock around the castle…

The bay through one of the castle’s windows

Simple Salad for Lunch

Waffle topped with Bananas, Peaches and Kiwis and Chocolate, Strawberry and Lemon Ice-Cream

View of Bodrum Castle while I was eating my waffle

Partner in Crime for the Day – Azusa

Beach scene in Bodrum

Boats of Bodrum

Tuesday

My last day in the sunny Aegean but I made sure to make the most of it. Woke up for a quick run to loosen up from yesterday’s crazy hills – definitely was needed and followed it up with a nice swim. Went home to enjoy breakfast with the host parents (the others were all asleep) and then got my bags packed before heading back down to the seaside for some last soaking in of the sun rays. Sadly enough our service bus driver had a fender bender – took off the license plate of another car – no bueno. But I can say that I was shocked that I didn’t witness more accidents on the steep, narrow pot-holed and cobble-stoned accident prone hills – not the place to learn how to drive stick and only the most able should even give it a try – many were burning rubber (that would not be I – I am too freaked to even drive stick out of a neighborhood and that is after having 4 – FOUR teachers – you people know who you are – they still walk our earth). After chatting with the family I learned that the cousin’s name Cansu means “Life Water” or the first watering of a plant – I thought this was beautiful – my sentimental moment. Also learned that the eldest host sister who works at the same language school I attend but at the Istanbul branch is the model in one of the photos in my Turkish workbook – super hysterical. After heading home and getting cleaned up we sat down to what was my last host mom cooked meal – she is at the summer home for another week so won’t return to Ankara before I set out for Istanbul ): but nonetheless the last meal was superb – saç boreği and it was made in the neighbor’s garden – great ending to a lovely family vacation.

Özge – host sister and I chilling down by the sea

Host mom preparing the Saç Boreği in the neighbor’s garden

The Aunt cooking the Saç Boreği on my last night – they were filled with eggplant

Wednesday

Got back into Ankara around 8:30am and was back to school by 9am – we mean business with the learning of Turkish. Already stocked up on figs – they are a second close to bananas as my most beloved fruit (and if you know me you know how serious a statement that is).

Cheers from Ankara – my home for only 1 more week

n

New Spin on Family Vacay

In a few short hours I will be boarding my 12 hour long bus ride to the beautiful (well the pictures tell me so) city of Bodrum. Bodrum said in Turkey is the equivalent of saying Hawaii in the US so I am super ecstatic – words don’t describe my excitement.

Now this is gonna be a whole new experience for me not only because I am in a new place (that is a given) but because it is for the celebration of Bayram (ending of the month of Ramazan) and I am going with my Turkish host family. Putting a new spin on family vacation.

My time in Ankara and my time with my awesome host family is coming to an end so this is a perfect ending to my three months in the capital. Not to mention I get to hang with my Turk Father again (hopefully this time our bonding does not include condoling me at the breakfast table after my not so fortunate date with the porcelain throne – uffff – bad memories)

If I understood my host mom there is a running path that I can run on or depending on the beaches I just might get a nice sand work-out in – super pumped.

So for the next few days I will be soaking in Turkey’s southern sun and breathtaking views. Hoping to get some reading done – both recreational and educational. Not sure I will have access to the world wide web, but if I do I will be sure to post pictures that are bound to make all eyes that see them jealous.

Any family vacations for yall coming up?

Cheers from Turkey

n

Safranbolu Photo Gallery

 

 

 

 

This past weekend I traveled to the Ottoman Village Fairytale town of Safranbolu – North of Ankara by about three hours. Great little city to visit with plenty of adventures that I will be posting about. My friend Audrey and I also visited Yenice Forest which is about an hour from Safranbolu – felt great to be out in nature. Here are just a few of the photos from my little weekend get-away

Yenice Forest and Şeker Canyon – near Safranbolu

Me on top of the hill that overlooks the old city of Safranbolu. The new part of the town is in the background.

Overlookıng the Ottoman Village of Safranbolu

Ottoman House

Inside the Caravansary or Han – it is now a hotel

Alvaro and I as old travelers in the Han

Our view during lunch

More of the view from the lunch table

This cat was chilling out with us at lunch – one blue and one yellow eye – totally cool

The locally produced soda in Safranbolu

The cave we visited – 4th largest in Turkey

Yenice Forest

Audrey and I split tea at a Nargile Cafe

River going through Yenice Forest

Yenice Forest

One Buttery

Two Butterly

My favorite picture from the forest

We ended up at the construction site for a hotel

What will be the view from the hotel rooms

More future hotel views – quite breathtaking

Hypothermia Shower

A quick post because I have lots and lots of Turkish to study.

But I think I just took the coldest shower of my life and that is saying something. I embraced the ice cold bucket showers (big bucket with little bucket method) in India where your body is producing steam because it is warmer than the water – yes 3 weeks of that really makes you appreciate a shower head that pours out hot water. And I’ve even showered in the cold mountain water of Thailand when in Chiang Mai. Heck, stateside I’ve even had to embrace the shower shivers when on a volunteer trip in Memphis. I guess you cold say I’ve become a little bit of an expert of how to approach a cold shower, but I was not expecting it at my home stay. Now if I hadn’t gone for a run I would of just foregone the shower – I also have a little bit of expertise in not showering for extended periods of time (usually finals induced), but post my run tonight I was stinky and my hair was super sweaty (sorry for the overshare) so a shower was a must.

Now I should have realized when washing dishes post dinner that there was no hot water, but I just figured it was a glitch with the kitchen sink – boy was I wrong – the whole apartment is without hot water. Needless to say it was a quick shower and my body temperature is slowly warming back up – just a few minutes of hypothermia doesn’t hurt, right?

I will update tomorrow about my weekend travels – I traveled nearby (only about 3 hours away) but I have a good story or two to share and photos, but they just have to wait.

Must get back to Turkish studies and warming my body up – shouldn’t be hard in my inferno room

Cheers from the land of confused temperatures

n

 

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Not having an oven for 4 1/2 months = torture

I am already having nightmares about it. Why would someone even build an apartment and not put an oven in the kitchen? That just seems preposterous. I mean my friend’s 8×8 Parisian apartment – makes sense – there isn’t room. A normal size apartment with a normal size kitchen – doesn’t make sense – plenty of room. The pseudo replacement of a toaster oven better have magical baking capacities that I am currently unaware of.

Get ready for the series of nat and her toaster oven accompanied by her trusty hot plates – unreal.

Thinking about my oven-less situation come September made me want to bake – so I did.

If you wanna do something, then do it. End of discussion, especially when the matter is to bake or not to bake.

Ingredients: (adapted from this recipe right hurrrrr)

Dry ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (a pinch more depending on the moisture of the mix) –> haha have yet to find whole wheat flour so white just had to suffice
  • 1 1/2 cups of Large Flake Rolled Oats (smaller flake is ok too)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. flax meal

Wet ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup oil (corn, grapeseed or olive – or sunflower oil like I used)
  • 1 egg (beat with 1 Tbsp Water)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Yummy ingredients aka mix-ins

  • 3/4 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Hint: when measuring out the honey, spray the measuring cup with oil or baking spray–your honey won’t stick).
  3. Mix the wet stuff with the dry stuff. Add your mix-ins. If the mixture seems too wet, add a bit of flour. If it isn’t binding together very well, you may wish to add an egg white.
  4. COOL the mix for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  5. Preheat the oven to 335 degrees (lower temperature due to the honey in the recipe which will burn more easily). –> I trust the baker but for me these babies were baked on #5 with the homestay oven!
  6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto your baking sheet (I recommend lining the baking sheet with parchment paper). Press down with a fork to ensure even cooking. – I used my hand – oops.
  7. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or until golden on the bottom of the cookie. The cookies freeze very well and make a great snack! Enjoy.

Host mother and sister approved

Cheers from the land that I am not sure knows the importance of a “normal” oven

n

The Power of a Jinx

Jinx knock on wood is one of those sayings that just seems to never disappear – rather it gets more ironic the older you get.

Today I had a great lunch at one of my favorite cafes in Ankara with the American who stayed at my homestay before me. She shared her story of how her first day in Ankara – straight off the plane – the apartment had no water. Huh? Yeah Turkey is definitely not considered a developing country but nearby construction anywhere can mess with your water supply AND your electricity supply.

She then went on to say how candles were the source of lighting then. Normal – this I can relate to, but no candles because the stock was not refilled because they are ridiculously expensive in this country – that’s all sorts of bad for a claustrophobia prone person because the dark just has a way of creeping in on you and making everything smaller (like a week back when I got stuck in the elevator of the building I teach English in – pitch black super small and the only relief in it all was that I was alone because yes in this scenario riding with someone else would’ve just cramped my style and made it even more of a sweaty situation because I would have had to talk in Turkish with a stranger instead of inhaling and exhaling deep breathes – nightmarish – you better believe that since that experience I have opted to climb to the 8th floor instead).

Now Azusa (the other girl at the homestay) told me that the week before I arrived there was no electricity – AHHHHHHHH. Good thing I arrived when I did – small blessings in disguise.

Thus I had only experienced one small electricity shortage and it was no big deal because I was home alone and it was still daytime….until today.

Yes, after leaving the cafe I went and mailed a big batch of postcards to the lucky winners of this round and then headed home – little did I know that the electricity was out. When I was walking up to the building I noticed that the convenience store on the corner of our building was running a generator and a little voice in my head said – yep you probably jinxed yourself.

The electricity outage was only a few hours long and just like my previous experience I was home alone and it was still daytime. Small blessings I tell you.

Never question the power of a jinx – knock on that wood I say.

It beats the electrical problems of my Italian apartment where if we consumed TOO much we set off a series of ear-deafening alarms throughout the whole apartment building – I’m sure the Verona ladies remember those late nights of running frantically for Geovani our handy man – classic moments abroad.

In the confusing world of Turkish I was reading the menu and asked Selina what Jambon was – she said don’t know I’ll look it up in my dictionary. Surprisingly it’s ham…..don’t worry I am still confused over why ham is on a menu in a predominantly muslim country also, because the chances of it being something else instead of ham are much greater than the chances of it actually being ham which just gets your mind thinking all sorts of strange things…and no I don’t think spam has made its appearance here….

For you Spanish speakers, supposedly Jambon is ham in Spanish too – loan word in action right there.

Cheers

Crunchy Underwear

Crunchy underwear you may be wondering what on earth I am talking about and well I am talking about a daily experience here in Turkey. You see, in Turkey, along with most of the rest of the world, dryers are few and far between. It is back to grandma’s way of line-drying everything. Now for the most part I don’t mind line-dried clothes, but the one thing I could have a little less of in my life is crunchy underwear. Without softener in the wash and without a nice snuggles dryer sheet my clothes come off the line a little hard, or my preferred word of crunchy. Thankfully after a bit of wearing the crunchy disappears but that initial wear is always rough – get it?

Yesterday during a chat session with my friend Alz, who just returned stateside after a nice half-year stint in Bologna, Italy we got to talking about crunchy underwear and she is a gal who understands and feels for me having experienced the crunchy underwear in Italy. Normally we don’t talk about such odd topics – actually that is probably a lie, but the reason we got on the subject of laundry is because of a comical laundry mishap. My host mom had put my clothes out to dry Sunday night and when I went to take them down on Monday morning I noticed that one of the clothespins was empty – a little muddled I looked over the balcony and saw that my sports bra had somehow ended up on the downstairs neighbors balcony. After scratching my head and weighing my options I figured the best was probably just to talk about it with my host mom later. Nothing to worry about right – it was safe on the neighbor’s balcony. Insert scenario of host mom and I talking over dinner about my sports bra on the neighbor’s balcony and her not sure she understood me correctly so getting up from the table to look for herself. Classic. Nonetheless my host mom later returned that night with my sports bra in tow (and that was when I was skyping with Alz). Can’t give enough praise to that woman – she is a saint.

Now this isn’t the first time I have had been abroad and thus not my first experience with line-drying but I think city pollution adds to it, because I surely don’t remember my underwear to ever be this crunchy in the past.

I guess there are worse things in life, right? I mean they could be crunchy due to other reasons….let your mind wander (;

Now don’t judge unless you too have experienced the “hard”ships of crunchy underwear – I’m sure you prefer soft cotton, lace or silk on your booty too (:

Cheers from the land of crunchy underwear

n

İstanbul Via Instagram

Super random collection of Instagram photos, but my time spent in Istanbul was kind of all over the place too!

Will post some other pictures that I took with my camera from Istanbul soon.

Until then a quote to go by: “When each day is the same as the next it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises” – make every day a special day (:

Cheers from abroad

n

Breakfast on the rooftop terrace of my hostel

Eating a massive Balık Ekmek (Fish Sandwich) on the Boshporous – I looked a bit zoned out – it was hot – haha

Turkish Desserts at a great cafe

Sat by the window at the cafe and had this view out to the Boshporous

Found the Hotel I stayed at back in winter 2008/2009!! Stayed in the room right above the door!

Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) by day – super bright out (:

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet) with some fountain action

Ramazan in Istanbul Welcomes You

Lantern shop

Yeni (New) Mosque

Cupcakes Galore – and yet I won’t have an oven to bake in ):

Rainbow Fountain!

Blue Mosque and Fountain at night

Istanbul Trip

I bring you this post from the comfort of my rahat (comfortable) bus back to Ankara. Now I know I said I wanted to save myself 5 lira on my trip to Istanbul by not riding rahat but it was only option for when I wanted to go back and let’s just say I am not disappointed but rather it will be difficult to book normal buses from now on. Those extra 5 liars got me a much larger leather seat, a USB plug slot to charge my phone off of, wooden floors, I repeat wooden floors! The chance to watch “Because I Said So” in Turkish and a very strong wifi connection. So awesome – I’m a tad but in bus trip heaven.

My trip to Istanbul was to get my apartment squared away – and I did so mission accomplished. I did have fun in the city too though.

After arriving around 10pm to my hostel on Friday all I wanted was a shower. The hostel delivered. Speaking of – Bada Bing I can recommend it as a good place to book (granted of course if you are not coming when I’ll be there because I will gladly put you up). Some of the cool things were the digital lockers under the beds, the clean bathrooms, the rooftop terrace where tons gather at night and the outgoing backpackers that seem to be drawn here.

The most outgoing happened to be the gentlemen I shared the mix dorm with my first night. In a room of 10 I happened to be the only gal amongst a whole bunch of guys (or should I say mates since the majority were from Australia??)

When I came to bed around midnight after chilling on the rooftop terrace I was greeted by one of them warning and apologizing that they were headed out early so may wake me up. It then led to them all talking to each other from the confines of their own bunks in the dark about their travels and at one point I just couldn’t hold the laughter in anymore because everything they were saying was striking a true note. So there I was with a whole bunch of Aussies laughing about travels and sharing stories or ad they called it “talking smack” It was similar to my times spent chilling with my undergrad guy friends with the only difference being the accents and the inclusion of a few bizarre words.

Saturday woke up and headed to meet the gal I will be subleasing from. She was super sweet as are my two future roommates. The apartment is good with the one downfall being the non-existent stove. I am trading places with my friend Allyce and going to be living a life of hot-plate cooking. This will get interesting….

Then I met up with Flora who I met during my travels a few weeks ago in Cappadocia – she jay so happened to be in Istanbul for the day between flights. We met up and put our own spin on touring the city which meant a more laid back feel while still doing tourist things. She had already seen the main sights as had I so we had an open agenda. From eating fish sandwiches to going down memory lane road for me of my trip to Istanbul 3.5 years ago we somehow filled the day and even made a new friend by the name of Nuh.

Nuh approached us outside the main Turkish bath in hopes to draw us into his family’s establishment but Flora and I were not interested. Mums – coincidental connections being made so I can honor your request of going to a bath during your visit!

Nonetheless we all continued to talk and it resulted in him inviting us to dinner after the sunset call to prayer. He gave me directions so I could find my parents hotel for September and directions to a shoe store so we could get Flora into some real shoes (hers had lost a sole) – not acceptable – haha. So there I am chatting with the shoe guys – one even said I was too small to be American because all Americas are “Big, BIg, BIG”. Haha and teaching others the word pair instead of “pieces”. When asked if we needed a bag we instead said to trash out her old pair – this gave the guy a good laugh. Then we figured heck we might as well go back and meet him (Nuh) for dinner. He paid and it was a nice dinner. Got to meet his cousin too. The plan was to go to a bar in Taksim but somehow with chilling outside Aya Sofya and Blue Mosque and taking pictures with the light up fountain and picking up other Americans along the way – by the time we were on the tram it was close to 1 so I decided to part ways because was exhausted and had things to do Sunday. Not to mention was unsure on how I would’ve gotten home because all public transportation stops at 1 and expensive taxis are one thing I try to avoid.

Sunday too was a good day – woke up and went for a nice run along the Bosphorous. Passed one other runner – he gave me the thumbs up – I think I probably looked like a smiling fool afterwards. The runner wave warms my heart, but sheesh a thumbs up!!! I’ll take it – one day I’ll get a high five from a random runner and that will just be a grand day!

I then went to the apartment of a family I may babysit for if my class schedule works out with the little girl’s schedule. The family is Turkish but just moved from the US and thus want their daughter to still get English language practice since she speaks Turkish with her parents and French in school. This little girl is going to be a language rockstar and not to mention she was adorable.

So all in all a fantastic trip. Making me excited to move there in a short 23 days! Boy time sure does fly when you are living your life (:

Cheers from a road somewhere between Istanbul and Ankara
n

Coding…

What do I think of when I think of coding? Computer Science guys (aka my friend Johnny B) and the ridiculous amount of high activity that is constantly going on in their brains and my complete and utter lack of comprehension. Really it is just a whole bunch of random numbers and letters to me – I consider it a foreign language all on its own.

Why am I telling you about coding? Well today at the school where I teach English there was a “tech” guy –> his words not mine in the front office where I was hanging out and he was re-installing the wi-fi internet. At first he started rattling off Turkish at me but then stopped when he saw my eyes get really big – yes I am learning Turkish, no I don’t understand rapid fire Turkish and I sure as hell don’t understand coding or internet installation…in any language. Gave the internet installation a try senior year of college –> major fail, but that could have been because our router was a dud, so maybe I do have some internet installation skills…

From then on I was left by myself until they wanted to check the wi-fi connection so asked to borrow my laptop – the first words out of their mouth “ufffff MAC” –> yes yes I made the switch just shy of a year ago and I won’t be going back “Once you go Mac, you don’t go back”. Now they were asking me how to find some program in my harddrive and I miraculously helped them find “Terminal” – had yet to use it. All I know is that when I got my computer back there was a program open with the coding language all over the place – it was like taunting me from the screen. Whatever they did worked because the wifi was connected and really that’s what I cared about. I was going to be helping my student edit her thesis and let’s just say that a medical thesis and its terminology is a tad out of my vocabulary boundaries too – but I somehow pulled that off too and know a heck of a lot more about carditis.

Computer dudes, tech guys, CS majors –> all the same in every country – well maybe I should rephrase and say the same in Turkey and the US – they truly are a breed of their own – and I mean that with the highest compliments – I wish I could do what they do. My favorite was the one guy wore glasses but liked to perch them on top of his head and do a one eyed squint at the computer instead –> Classic.

Weekend Plan: Off to Istanbul tomorrow to meet the gal I will be subleasing my apartment from for the fall term – thank you Craig’s List Turkey (: and hopefully crossing paths with a gal I meet a couple weeks ago in Cappadocia (:

Will be an adventure – it seems from the pictures of my hostel that the bathroom is a tad “blinged” out – I will confirm whether or not it is accurate advertising.

Cheers

n