Thursday, March 29, 2012


going on an adventure in amsterdam!

leaving tomorrow with luli, kiley, and joe--

happy happy happy weekend!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


everything's sunny
birds go chirpity chirp chirp
the sky is bluer

sun i really love
happiest must be the earth
play play play play play 

happy spring! 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

that happened.

istanbul/not constantinople. after the nightmare getting there, it was amazing. so much culture. the mosques, the bazaars, the food, the language, everything opened my eyes to something new.

there were mosques around every corner. my favorite? the blue mosque:

it also happens to be one of the only ones we actually went into. my first time hearing the call to prayer was one of the strangest things i've experienced. over megaphones, every mosque calls the people to prayer, 5 times a day. chants from the quran filled the streets.

more things that filled the streets? street food vendors. like this guy selling 'simit' (round bread  covered in sesame seeds):

stands were all over the place selling all kinds of food; simit, roasted chestnuts, boiled and roasted corn, pickled vegetables (gross),  and halka (similar to churros). kebabs are also considered street food, and there were kebab 'stands' everyywherrreee. walking through one of the many many markets, luli and i stumbled on this little place:

there was a decent line of turks, so we figured it was a good idea. for 2 turkish lira, we got the most amazing sandwich i've had in a long long time. spicy deliciousness. in addition to to street food being everywhere, there was also baklava all over the place. 

there are very few words to describe how good it was. after sicily and istanbul, i have a new found love for things with pistacchio. i'm pretty positive i had at least one piece of baklava every day we were there. it never got old, just stayed flaky and awesome. 

i became obsessed with multiple things while we were there...

evil eyes. which, despite their name, are a symbol for protection.


tiles. so ornate. so pretty. 


apple tea and turkish tea. we were given apple tea practically every time we walked into a store and were served turkish tea every afternoon when we got back to our hostels. i just love, job well done, turkey. 

probably one of the best things about istanbul were the markets. the grand bazaar and the spice bazaar are two of the most popular, but there were so many others that oftentimes felt like little hidden secrets. 

the grand bazaar. grand indeed. huge and intimidating. also, be prepared to haggle prices down; the vendors are extremely pushy and try to sell things to you for at least 50% more than what things are actually worth. needless to say i didn't buy a single thing there, i hate being harassed and hit on when i shop. a sight to see, but not the place for me. 

the spice market on the other hand was much less crowded, and much more calm. they had everything. spices (duh), tea, honey, plants, mass amounts of turkish delights, and more. the colors were beautiful. 

i think of all the markets we went to, my favorite was the arasta bazaar. they had the most incredible jewelry, and i found these old maps:

everything was really pricey, so again, no purchases; but everything was awfully nice to look at. it was also the smallest, easiest to manage bazaar we found and was right in the heart of sultanhamet, perfect. 

the only market we went to that i bought anything was one we stumbled upon after walking around an area of the city known as eminönĂ¼:

i found a few cheap crafty things that i couldn't pass by. i'm convinced tourists don't really know this bazaar exists, we hardly saw anyone other than turks, and no one there spoke english. we also found amazingly delicious freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. since the man working at the stand spoke no english, we had to play charades to get it, but it was well worth looking like fools.  

we went on a boat tour of the bosphorus and golden horn. it was freezing, but the sultans palaces that we got to see along the sea were incredible. 

another incredible thing we got to see. whirling dervishes. mesmerizing.

my favorite part of the whole trip was probably the hamami we went to. a traditional turkish bath. it is probably also one of the most awkward things i've ever experienced. once i got past the naked self consciousness, it was blissful. i was scrubbed and exfoliated raw, bathed head to toe, massaged, and shampooed all by a turkish woman who's only english words were 'lady,' 'turn,' and 'douche' (which she used in the french sense, meaning shower). i got to sit in a sauna and a steam room, and swim in a cold pool. i hardly remember a time i have ever been so relaxed. i would go to one every week if i could.

istanbul was, in a word, beautiful. more words to describe our week: bohemian, spicy, aladdin, elephants, hookah, tea, homemade wine, sparkling, pushy, charlie, lamps, angels, stray cats, genie pants, magic carpets, unique, blissful.

Friday, March 16, 2012

rocky road (not the ice cream)

my trip to istanbul started off rocky (understatement.) 

due to inclement weather, all trains to brussels from lille were canceled the morning of our flight. we wanted to take the bus but, for some reason, eurolines had no buses that day. no bus, no trains. so luli and i took the metro to a border town. then a bus to another town in belgium to try to take a train from there, thinking it'd be close. wrong. we ended up having to take a cab. holy expensive. 

our cab driver (bless his heart) was driving as fast as he possibly could (well over the 90kmh limit) to try to get us to the airport on time. our flight started boarding at 1:15. we got to the airport at 1:25. our flight was leaving at 1:45. we got to security at 1:30. we ran. we were the last people on the plane. all we could do was laugh. if i wasn't laughing i would have most certainly been crying. the crying set in later when luli and i were discussing how much packets of powdered soup cost because that was going to be all we could afford to eat when we got back to france. 

luckily for us the exchange rate was definitely in our favor once we got to turkey.

Monday, March 5, 2012

it's amazing!

i'm just back from my trip to catania. it was so amazing. the sea was beautiful. i spent the night in belgium on monday to catch an early flight on tuesday morning. let's talk about how much i enjoy waking up at 4am. actually, no, let's not, because i HATE it and would like to forget it ever happened. mine and luli's 7:15a ryanair flight to lamezia-terme was right on time. we got to italy, promptly ate pizza, then took a 5 hour train to catania. our train went right along the coast the whole time, took a ferry, and got in at around 5:30p. our hosts for the week, peppe and ciccio, came to pick us up from the station and we drove out to their house in capo molini.

it was dark when we got there, but their house was right near the water (incredible) and came with a cat (gross). we went for pizza round 2 for dinner around 10 (they eat dinner incredibly late in sicily) and then went back to our new home for the week to catch up on sleep.

on wednesday we got up, marveled at the sea, and went in to a neighboring town, acireale, for breakfast. we had granita (like gelato, but made with water) and brioche. it was was everything we ate the whole time we were there. we went for a drive through another town right on the water, giardini naxos, to get to taormina, a town on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea. we walked around the deserted town and it was so adorable, cobble stone roads, screaming italy. we continued our drive further up the mountain to castelmola, yet another adorable little town with an old castle sitting right on top. we had some local wine, took a baby hike up to the ruins and basked in the sun.

for dinner, ciccio and peppe invited some friends over and we had fresh pasta with a pistacchio pesto sauce and a bajillion other yummy things. seriously can't get enough of the food.

thursday: to add to my list of the coolest things i've done in my whole life, we decided to go skiing on mt etna. skiing. on an active volcano. with a panoramic view of the mediterranean. amazing. it was a tiny little mountain, but it was cheap, and the view was...amazing. i got to collect lava rocks on the way down the mountain and then we went and had some kind of pizza thing and gelato for lunch. amazing. for dinner we went into catania and ate at a street side place. luli and i were suckered in to trying horse meat for the first (and last) time. gross. but everything else we had was...amazing.

on friday morning we got up and decided to walk down to the sea. no beach, just huge lava rocks...but the perfect place for a nap in the sun. the rest of my day was destroyed by a killer migraine, so i slept, slept, and slept some more...until saturday.

in the morning we took another nap on the lava rocks then went into catania to walk around. we went to the open air market, saw the biggest tuna fish of life, and found one of the only things i knew about catania: the elephant statue. made of lava. I LOVE. we cooked a big thank you dinner for our hosts that night and took one last trip down to the rocks to say goodbye to the sea.

on our train ride out of town on sunday morning we got to see etna explode--tons of smoke, lava coming down the side. amazing (favorite descriptive word.)

such an...amazing! week. hopefully my tan sticks around for a little bit. doubtful, but i can dream. i'll also be dreaming about this for quite some time:

tomorrow: istanbul (not constantinople)! happy vacation!