Monday, December 25, 2006

Izmir Christmas Eve

Dinner at an out of the way place owned by a family from the East, the town that Tuncay's family is from. Hakan said they made lahmacun (a flat bread with minced meat and minced tomatoes) on it just like his dad's mom. It was fun, tons of courses, and we sat around on cushions at a low table and drank ayran and finished it all off with baklava. Then we drove and paid a visit to all of the family, drank more tea, and I fell asleep to Pirates of the Carribbean - I never knew Johnny Depp spoke Turkish...

Carolers at the mall singing carols in English. HA!

We stopped by IKEA to buy some pamuk seker (cotton candy -oh, globalization)

Me posing on moose posing as reindeer

Santa's Turkish sleigh

Nur and Hakan meet Baba Noel (Father Christmas) American style!

Quick break from arduous shopping adventures at that bastion of world domination, Starbucks. It literally is taking over the world!


Dans etmek çok seviyorum!

Hakan and Özden (his grandmother) at the end of the evening.

Me, Hakan, Nur and Tuncay (Hakan's parents who live in Izmir)

Nur and I getting ready - well - waiting for Tuncay

Hakan and his anne. Hakan went to a men's kuaför, he looked so nice!

Nur and I went to her favorite salon in Izmir to get our hair done for the engagement party of her sister's daughter this evening. It was fun - I could barely talk to my stylist but he laughed at me a lot and spent a really long time curling my hair.

This weekend I drove down to Izmir with Hakan and his Dad, and two people from his work. We left at 6 pm and after some classically hectic and nerve-wracking 90 mph driving we arrived at 2 am in Izmir. The next day, we got up and had a delicious classic Turkish breakfast, did some classic high-end Turkish shopping, went to Starbucks (ha!), went to the salon, got ready for the party and were there by 7. We left around 1 or 1:30 after several courses and lots and lots of dancing and talking (in mostly Turkish - ack hard work!).

Papatya Show

Natasha and Olivia picking up more glitter.

Finn in his tux, combing the floor for highly-prized end-of-show confetti.

Olivia and Guy after the show

Olivia and Guy's feet are on the left... I think.

Tata is in the middle - she was a gray horse in the Papatya Circus.

No one I know was in this one but it was all two and three year olds dressed up in bunny costumes - wether bunnies, bumblebees or angels this group is always a hit, and even more adorable then their ridiculous looking 5 ft + bunny helpers.

Several of the kids were drummers in this one -

The family I babysit for, two of their kids go to Papatya Preschool. Every year the preschool gives a huge annual show around Christmas time, and everyone was in it this year. I got to go see it - it was an amazingly huge production! Many very well off families send their kids to this preschool and going to this production illluminated that. It was incredible! Huge, lavish, and packed with 500 people - and the kids were amazing!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Weekend



The playroom overlooking the Bosphorus in the morning fog

Baking cookie faces!

I spent the weekend staying with a family with four kids in Istinye and helping out with Finn's 5th birthday party since their dad had to go to Iran. We had a crazy/fun Christmasy cookie, presents and adventure filled weekend!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More Bologna

More Bologna!

The Sunday night antiques market in front of Santo Stefano basilica.

A statue of Neptune in the main Piazza.

Meet and cheese in an amazingly delecious looking Italian shop.

Freshly made pasta and gnocchi that we bought loads of (despite a complete lack of hunger) took home and cooked up and ate. It was the best pasta I've had in my life.

The main Piazza of Bologna.

Bolognese Medieval Defensive Tower (Since I Can't Remember its Exact Name)

The outside of the tower covered in lights, and statue of some Catholic important figure.

The view from the top looking over several churches, the main piazza, and to San Luca on the Hill beyond.

Girls on top... several times.

Climbing up the 400 + steps of the tower with 400 + other people. It's fun to squeeze onto tiny, rickety, ancient staircases with holes in the steps and 50 ft. drops off one side with lots of other people passing and jumping and running and yelling and squishing and jamming. The family who lived in this tower must have been in really good shape.

Looking down.... down.... down....


We climbed up a defense tower over 200 years old that was built to house a rich family in fortress-like accomodations. You climb all the way to the top on thin wooden staircases that wind all around the inside of the brick tower. There were over a hundred other people in the tower when we were, and everyone was climbing up and down so there was a lot of strategic passing and lots of waiting to get to the top for the gorgeous view right from the center of the old city. It was beautiful!

Venice, Italy

The Grand Canal from the Rialto

Piazza San Marco at aqua alta (read: flooded!) which means no pigeons but lots of funny temporary plastic shoe covers!

Walking on elevated walkways in front of the Church of San Marco, which is made with a lot of marble from Istanbul, then Constantinople, as well as graced by several horse statued "gifted" by the Ottomans.

Anna and I on the 2 hour train ride from Bologna to Venice.

Erin and Jill on the train before we all fell asleep from having only slept about three hours...

Gondolas along the Grand Canal after the sun finally came out.

The Bridge of Sighs. Prisoners were marched over this bridge on their way to various places - thus the sighs.

The Tower of San Marco (I think... )

People wandering around in the flooded Piazza with funny plastic shoe-covers on rather than crowding onto the elevated walkways. The water was over a foot deep when we arrived around 11 am. By the time we left around 5 pm the water was almost totally gone from the Piazza and the sky was blue and sunny. It was fun to see the Piazza both ways!

Me, Jill, and Erin on the Rialto overlooking the Grand Canal.

We went for a day trip to Venice from Bologna, riding the train 2 hours both ways for only 7 euros each way. We had a fun time wandering the streets, shopping for gifts, meeting strange waiters and wading through the flooded city. We tried to get lost but just ended up going in circles. I think I prefer Bologna, but it was fun to see Venice again. I still think it is overpriced, over-touristed and its food isn't as good as elsewhere in Italy. You should still visit it someday before it sinks.

Some photos contributed by Jill!