Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Want to Move to Turkey!

TURKEY!Liz Whiteman! Thank you so much for coming half way around the world to meet me in Turkey! Marie, Liz and I had the best time of our lives in Turkey! read on :)

Marie and I took the train from Bulgaria and had a day before Liz fly in from the states. We spent the extra time to explore Burgaz Ada, one of the "Kizil Adalari" or Red Islands, which we call the Prince's Islands.
We ate seafood and went swimming and simply fell in love with the quant little island. It's only 20 km from Istanbul and a short ferry ride away. No cars are allowed on the island, only horse drawn carriages and bicycles.
When Liz finally arrived we went and did the major but necessary tourist sites.
The outside of the Blue Mosque, so called for the beautifully ornate blue tile decorating the inside.
Going out in the popular "Istiklal" area that night with our new friend Justin after the four of us took in a Whirling Dervish show.
There was so much seafood in Turkey! And on the street you could get fried muscles, fried muscle sandwiches, fried sardines, muscle and rice called "dolma" the list goes on! SO TASTY
We made friends with these guys selling the fried delicacies and continued to go back to them.

I have always had a love for the stories of Troy. I finally got to be Helen of Troy in real life.
Liz and Marie were my beautiful maidens.
To visit Troy you must stay in the city of Chanakkale. That is where I introduced Liz to the perfection of fresh figs.

Klaros Beach near Selchuk. You can imagine Marie, Liz and I swimming and playing in the sand and water all day. The Aegean Sea is gorgeous!
Liz couldn't get enough of those figs and bought more from this local woman selling fruit on the street.
The next day we went to the House of the Virgin Mary, as just outside of Selchuk city. The are some stories that say Mary lived out her last days here (not this house, but a house of the same shape on this exact spot).
After walking through the house and lighting a candle you could tie a note on to this wall of prayers like Liz is doing here.
From Mary's house we made our way down to Ephesus. One of the most amazing site of ancient ruins I have ever seen. Only 20% of it is uncovered for the eye to see, yet that took us 4 hours to do. Ephesus was once the second largest Roman city, next to Rome itself.
People are constantly there working on reconstructing what has been found and finding new parts.
The three of us in front of the Grand Theater.

And so we made our way west, south and back north to Istanbul with the help of Turkey's amazing bus line. We spent our one day back in Istanbul cramming lots in! Here we are inside Aya Sophia. Marie shared with us that the Statue of Liberty coud do jumping jacks inside without touching the walls, basically it was HUGE. Once a church and then a mosque, it has a lot of history to offer.
The Grand Bazaar!
Spice Bazaar!
We could not have a better time. This trip all together, Marie and I making our way from Ukraine to Turkey and then Liz coming to spend time in Turkey with me, was magical!

I'm now back in Gazakh (Qazax), Azerbaijan, going to school and doing after school clubs. Fall came in pretty fast, the temperature went from 90 degrees one day to 65 the next and it has stayed there. The new group of Peace Corps Volunteers, AZ9 (I'm AZ7), will be here this weekend! And I'm just trying to prepare myself and my friends here for the fact that I really will be leaving here in November. A lot is going on, so happy had the chance to take such an amazing and relaxing trip! Thank you Marie and Liz for making it unforgettable!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Summer Travels with Marie and Jessi

Marie and I flew from Baku to Kiev on August 26. It only took a couple hours but it definitely brought a lot of changes, including cool weather. St Sophia's Cathedral. Marie and I are in the bell tower and if you look closely you can see St Michael's Monastery over my shoulder.
St Michael's Monastery.
We just couldn't help ourselves, this girl was so adorably sweet we had to buy honey from her. She was selling it right outside of the chruch.
Entrance to the Cave Monastery Complex-you have to cover your head in Orthodox holy places.
Marie looking around in one of the many churches in the complex.

We got to Lviv by way of night train. This man, sanding just outside one of the churches, was desperately trying to convince us he had drawn these photo copied pictures himself.
Marie and I in Ploscha Rynok, one of the cities main squares.
The view from the top of the town hall building's tower in Ploscha Rynok.

The train from Lviv to Bucharest was a 20 hour journey, and mostly during the day.Marie sitting by the beautiful, but dirty, fountains that start one of the main squares, Piata Unirii.
Some of the old alleyways and walk ways were filled with vendors selling this and that. I bought a hand painted picture of Mary here.
This was Andrew, our Bulgarian tour guide for the free walking tour. He was just too much fun not to share.
We also spend one of our days away from the main city in the huge Herastrau Park. We rented bikes and made our way around the lake.

We had to get back on the same Moscow to Sophia, Bulgaria train we had take to Bucharest to get out and to Plovdiv. Unfortunately we weren't lucky enough to get beds this time around and spent the 11 hour night sleeping in chairs that couldn't recline. Uncomfortable then but laughable now :).Making our way to Plovdiv in the morning.
Plovdiv's old town is full of well preserved old, traditional, houses. This is the Hindliyan House, built in 1835.
The tower of the Church of St Constantine and Elena. The old town was just full of fun cobblestoned streets with something hiding around every corner.
Like this arch.
Exploring Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria was such an amazing experience. Every city we went to and hostel we stayed in brought new friends. That was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip-simply meeting people from all over the world doing the same sort of exploring that Marie and I were doing and spending the day or evening or both with them. We had an amazing time.

Pulling into our next adventure...ISTANBUL, TURKEYStay tuned for the next blog post all about Turkey with Liz in the next couple days!