Saturday, December 29, 2012

Istanbul: Part I

I got home from Istanbul last night at midnight. It was a wonderful trip. I will post on it in parts since I don't want to overwhelm you with a load of text and a barrage of photos. (Yes, I took photos!)

For this first part, I'll just lay out my reasoning behind choosing Turkey.

My first reason for choosing Turkey: I wanted to go somewhere that wouldn't bombard me with familiar happy Christmas family images. This is my first holiday season away from my family and it's been hard enough without being reminded all of the time that I'm not home drinking cocktails and playing board games with the clan. Istanbul had the requisite Christmas adverts and acknowledged the holiday since the city is quite mixed religiously, but mostly it was just another day.

I will admit that I cried in my baklava on Christmas Eve. The hardest part, I think, about being away from my family so long is that I'm experiencing so many things that I know they would love. Our family life revolves, in many ways, around cooking (and drinking) together. (Well, I mostly drink a cocktail and observe the cooking process, but I'm okay with that role.) Sometimes, I get quite homesick when I'm eating something that I know my family would love. I want to share these experiences with them and I can't, so I end up crying over my baklava in a cute little cafe in Istanbul on Christmas Eve. I Skyped them later, though, and felt much better. Thank God for the interwebs.

Secondly, I chose Istanbul because I've traveled mostly in Eastern Europe (none in Western Europe) and I wanted a change. I expected Turkey to be wildly different than most of my past travel. It wasn't as different as I expected since Istanbul is a huge, modern city, but I loved seeing mosques and different styles of architecture. I think I've mentioned before that sometimes I get worn out by travel and stop seeing the wonder of a new city. Istanbul, I think, recharged those batteries in many ways just because it was quite different than other cities I've visited.

I also chose Istanbul because I wanted warmth. There was a little snow on the ground when we landed and it was chilly the first couple of days, but the weather warmed up nicely and I enjoyed having the sun on my face and leaving my gloves and giant down coat at home.

 After three days in Istanbul, the other ladies headed south to Cappadocia and I moved from our apartment in Sultanhamet (the old city) to a hostel in Taksim (the new town). I decided not to go to Cappadocia because I really wanted to stay in one place for the full week. They were happy with their trip, but I think I would have felt a bit overwhelmed and like I hadn't seen either place properly. Also, I love cities. I grew up in a small town and have lived in small towns my entire life. Currently, I'm in a small town. I wanted to soak up city life for the duration of the trip. I love nothing more than sitting in a foreign cafe and people watching and Istanbul delivered on both counts.

So, that's my reasons for choosing to go to Istanbul. I'll post later about the actual trip, my recommendations, and my impressions of Istanbul (both good and bad).

This post is brought to you by Dragonette, Big Sunglasses.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Frozen Toes and St. Lucia

I went to Riga to see off a friend, attend a concert with another friend, and retrieve my camera from concert-friend's apartment. And what did I do with my camera? I took pictures of the freezy-frozen snowy-snow.(I didn't take a lot of photos since A) the snow is not going anywhere and B) taking photos required me to un-glove my hands and in those few precious seconds of no-gloves my little hands freezy-froze.)

1. Rendi and I went to the Christmas market in search of very specific stockings for her window. 
2. Here is the Christmas market at night.
3. Here are some freezey-frozen ducky-ducks in the park.
4. And the park was also lovely at night. I think this was around 6pm.
5. There were giant frames set up for photo ops. This is my "I'm just casually leaning against this photo frame" pose. 
6. Lastly, we went to the St. Lucia's Day concert at Rigas Doms. I think some of the others got better photos, so I will try to pilfer those and post on the blog for you lovlies to see. And, yes, some jerk put a tripod up right in front of us. (I think he was an official jerk, but still....)

That is all for now. I'm sure there will be more snow photos since, you know, we have a crap-load of snow. Next week, though, I am in Istanbul! I will take photos! And eat lavash!

This post is brought to you by Sufjan Stevens' Sister Winter.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Poem (for Dray)

My friend Dezeree wanted me to update the blog with something about my daily life. Since my camera is in Riga and therefore unable to capture the fact that my little apartment is clean for the first time in weeks,  I thought I would write a poem. (In my head, this transition makes perfect sense.)

Poem about Grocery Stores

There is a small grocery store in the building next door and a bigger one across the street. 
Across the street and a block down is another grocery store. 
It's closest neighbor is a grocery store.
The big grocery store is right across the bridge. 

I don't know how all of these grocery stores survive. 
One day I think I'm going to find a grocery store within a grocery store.
There is a convenience store inside the big grocery store, which is close enough. 

All of the groceries have mostly the same things: 
frozen pelmeni, mysteriously preserved fish, Balsams, kvass, good bread.

I have never in my life seen so many different brands of frozen pelmeni.

This post is brought to you by Ellie Goulding's Hanging On and Maxima.