Monday, August 30, 2010

Safranbolu and Amasra

Sorry it's been a week since my last post, but I've been really busy at work.  On Friday afternoon we all left for a weekend away in the town of Safranbolu.  It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of it's 17th century architecture and unchanged feel.  The town is beautiful, with winding cobble stone street and lots of open air stalls selling everything from cheap tacky tourist crap to beautiful antique clothing (I almost bought an antique coat....but alas, I couldn't justify spending the money). 

On Saturday morning I had my first adventure to a hamam (aka, Turkish bath, basically sit in a hot marble room for a while, then get scrubbed down and washed by an old Turkish woman).  IT WAS AMAZING!  I spent the rest of the day walking around town and shopping.  In the afternoon, we drove to Amasra, a small city on the Black Sea, and went to the beach.  Imagine any European beach, and that describes it!  It was nice to have a swim, though.  Later that evening, we had dinner at a fabulous fish restaurant, where I had mackerel....
Sunday we had a few more hours to walk around, and I tried mantı for the first time.  And before you ask, yes, the letter "I" isn't supposed to be dotted there.  It's noodles filled with minced meat, with yogurt and some sort of sauce poured over the top....absolutely delicious!  Sunday afternoon we drove back here to Ankara, and it's been hotter than all get out ever since.  It was 42 degrees in Safranbolu Sunday, and about 39 today.  Anyways, I'll keep you all posted!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Some food adventures

So, of course, since I've been here a few days, I've gotten a chance to try some food.  Since I'm trying to take it easy for the first week or two, I've tried to keep it pretty familiar.  For instance, last night we all went to the faculty bar for dinner, and I had fish and chips (however, the fish tasted like FISH!  Unlike most places in the US, it actually tasted like it should, not bland white fish).  I also had buffalo chicken strips for lunch today (however, the "buffalo" is curry based, not hot sauce based).  All the familiar stuff aside, I did get a chance to try some real Turkish food.......For lunch on Sunday, I had spicy meatballs (which will be familiar to anyone who eats Lebanese/Middle Eastern food, beef or lamb seasoned with hot chili and pressed into patties before cooking, in this case over a fire.  Yes, I know, they're called meat"balls" but they're patty shaped...don't ask me!)  When we all went to the grocery store yesterday, I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the idea of not being able to read the label of anything, so when our guide pointed out the soups, I headed there, since generally soup is pretty tasty.  I got a couple different types of soup to try, figuring that it would be something easy to make and standard to eat.  I tried my first one today, it was labeled "Anali Kizli" which I suppose means "tomato broth with fennel seasoning, with chick peas, bulgar and meatballs" aka, super tasty!

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yes, there are pine trees in Turkey

OK, so I got here last night, at about 10pm here time, after traveling for about 28 hours (including a 13 hour layover at O'Hare.....most boring airport I've been in on this trip).  Anyways, the flight overseas was pretty long, and the food was mediocre (as expected.  Hey, you don't get fois gras out of a microwave).  Well, when I arrived and got my keys, I found my apartment, which is at the end of a quiet hall, so I have this nice little corner to myself.  The apartment itself looks like something out of an Ikea catalog, which is fabulous!  It's very modern minimalist, with leather and dark wood and steel.  The cupboards were full of dishes and pans, and the fridge had cheese and bread, water, milk and juice for us, and there was a little plate of coffee and tea on the counter.  And the best part is, in the foyer there's a new, well tuned piano!!!  Today, we met with our supervisor, who took us to breakfast at Starbucks (which was fun, since it was familiar, with a language twist.)  We then went shopping for cell phones and supplies.  I got a hot pink Nokia slider (old school, no keyboard, cause I didn't want to spend a fortune, cell phones are expensive here, but minutes are super cheap.)  The supermarket is really just that, kind of like Meijer or Walmart, where you can get appliances, clothes, office supplies, electronics, etc all in the same place.  I'm finding, however, that the language barrier is getting really frustrating, and I hope our Turkish language classes start soon.  My friend and I missed our bus stop because we don't speak the language and we don't really know where we're going yet.  Tonight there's a dinner at 6pm, so I hope we can figure out how to get where we need to go.  More stuff later!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My last day.......

Well, I have managed to solve yesterday's packing problem:  unpack some stuff and leave a box for Muti to ship later!!  Yay, postal service!  This way, I'll get all excited when I get a package, like a little kid on Christmas!  The only thing that doesn't seem to be able to fit (and hopefully it will, cause I'm not sure I can live without it) is Proxy, my stuffed dog.  She looks just like my family's dog, Ginger, and when I miss the real thing, I just hug Proxy.  Anyways, now I just have to wait for the laundry to finish drying, put the last of the clothes in a Space Bag, and seal everything up.  Then, I wait.....and wait, and wait, and finish reading my book, and watch Rome (BTW, epic amazing show!), have dinner, go to bed, and wake up wicked early.  Oh, and then sit in O'Hare all day....hence me being online right now, I'm putting reading material on the Kindle (thanks, ME, it's coming in really handy!)  So far, tomorrow looks like a Jane Austen marathon, followed by a 10.5 hour slog through Homer.  At least tomorrow will be punctuated with visits by people, ME for lunch, and Aunts M and A around dinner time, and then I'm meeting up with some people from my program at the gate, which will be nice, having a group to mad scramble to the flight from Istanbul to Ankara with ;)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Packing fail!

I must be doing something wrong.  I've packed only the bare minimum, with Space Bags and all, taken out sweaters to be mailed later, removed some less than necessary shirts, unpacked extra soap and lotion......and my bags still won't close!  Oh, and I haven't even finished the laundry!  AAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!  So the plan is.....*dun dun dun....daaaahhhhh* get my address and ship stuff tomorrow!  However, due to the 8 hour time difference, I e-mailed my program around 8pm their time, and won't have a response until tomorrow.  So, tomorrow will involve either joy at being able to ship stuff, or some grouchiness at having to unpack....again.  Any suggestions?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

15 days to go!

OMG, shoes!!  Only 15 days until I leave for Turkey and I haven't started packing!!!!  I'm still trying (slowly) to acquire all the supplies I need and figure out if I own enough shoes for this adventure.....I'm thinking no.  Anyways, I got back from my post-thesis camping vacation up to Michigan's Upper Peninsula/Mackinaw rained, kind of a lot.  However, the trip was still amazing, mostly because my BFF Jamie and I laughed for four days straight (we decided the funniest part of the trip was the South Park/Randy March "Oh My God".....I apologize for the offensive blaspheming, it was just a funny quote.)  Anyways, I also got a CAST IRON DUTCH OVEN, which is now quite possibly my favourite thing ever!  I made a garlic and herb beef roast with potatoes and carrots, and egg and cheese English muffins on the reversible griddle lid!  YUMMY!  Oh, and I also finished my thesis a week and a half ago and mailed it in.....IT'S FINISHED!!!  w00t.  Well, when I have more to report, I'll post some more......I'm thinking an extensive post on the actual travel experience (since I've never flown internationally before, and never alone.......scary....whooooo~~~~~~~~).  Later!