This year, for our annual Big Sur Half Marathon trip, I did not actually run. I sipped my mocha latte from the sidelines and cheered everyone on while watching sea otters in the harbor. Grad school is quite the time suck and I haven’t been able to train. So instead of running, my mushy self spent the weekend relaxing and looking at Jellyfish…which are pretty much the most fun creatures to photograph in the entire universe. I tried to get a good picture of the otters but those suckers just won’t hold still.
Cheers to a wonderful weekend with my girls Ginny and Katie who killed it!! ❤
I walked past this fruit/juice stand every morning and had to fight my instincts to bite into one of these beauties. Lots of color in Istanbul everywhere I looked, but also about a million tourists clogging everything up. This is what I get for going in the end of June I guess. Despite the tourists, I would go back in a heartbeat. Istanbul has tons to offer and I feel like I only saw a piece of it, starting with all the major tourist sites. I would love to come back in the early fall and see the city in a less crowded light, then also visit the rest of Turkey which is supposed to be even more beautiful.
I stayed just off Istiklal Street in Beyoglu on the European side and used Airbnb.com to rent a small apartment. This was perfect because it was a non-touristy area yet only 10 minutes to Galata tower and 15 to the tram station. I walked a lot which was the perfect solution for all the baklava I ate. I tried a little everywhere I went but the best I had was at a meze place in Galatasaray on my last night. It wasn’t drowned in honey like many I have had- it was light and perfect. I also tasted their version of ouzo, called Raki. The owner even let me keep 2 of the little raki glasses which remind me of Japanese beer glasses. Galatasaray is a great place for meze-style restaurants. Before coming to Turkey I am sad to say I had never tasted Turkish Delight. For some reason I always thought it looked like a fruit cake version of candy and I can’t stand fruit cake. I tasted a hefty amount from different places in the city, once again thankful for all the walking I was doing. This place was on Istiklal street and was packed with Turkish men yelling over the counters. There were about 50 kinds here, some covered in saffron or rose petals. I actually prefer the plain pistachio kind.Every morning I would have my cup of Turkish tea which was a little stronger than many british style teas and had a little more bitterness to it. I liked how they served it in the glass cups. After my tea I would get one of the Simits from a street cart. They were like a mix between a bagel and a pretzel. Definitely worth a try once but I would take a New York style bagel over this any day. My first full day I went to Topkapi palace and the cisterns. Both were crowded but I was surprised when the Harem in the palace was not. I paid extra to see this part which was beautiful but very lacking in information. The audio guide was useless as everything they said was written out for you in each room with minimal information to start with. I would recommend getting a written guide somewhere else. The Harem was partially under construction and you were only allowed in certain parts. I felt like they could do a little more work on refurbishing some of the rooms but overall it was worth the extra cash to go in. Gorgeous tiles in the Harem.
The cisterns were also very interesting and beautiful. This took me only 15-20 minutes to get through not counting the line which moved rather quickly.
The second day I went to the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The line into both was looong and I actually paid some guy 20 lira to get me into the Hagia Sophia faster. The Blue Mosque has free entry so there is no way to get to the front of that line. Afterwards I went to the nearby Seven Hills Restaurant for a drink and the amazing view.
Galata Bridge at night. Apparently a great place to watch the sunset but I didn’t make it in time. On Istiklal street there are a few places that sell goats milk ice cream. This one guy does this whole routine before finally giving you your cone. The ice cream is much more chewy than regular cream and lends well to being flung around like taffy. Galata Tower by night.Shop cat. The last thing I did was take a boat ride on the Bosphorus River. For some reason I was so exhausted I went to the lower deck to sit down and woke up 2 hours later after the ride was over… this was the only picture I got! Something about boats makes me very sleepy.
Instead of the Polar Vortex everyone has been so uppity over, I have recently been stuck in the Time Vortex…a much more debilitating entity in my opinion. I don’t really know where the last 2 months have gone. Part of the reason for my long absence was not just the holidays actually, it was a SHARING problem. See, Joe and I share one little MacBook Air and since he is in Graaadd Schooool… he gets first dibs, much to my dismay. Where he goes, computer goes. I have an iPad but try my best not to use it for any kind of typing beyond a brief email. This problem will be resolved shortly when we get one of the Apple desktops. It’s amazing what one “needs” in this world, but being a one computer household is not cutting it. Adobe Lightroom here I come.
Big things coming in 2014. One month from today Joe and I are going on a 16-day adventure in South America. More to come on that. And then I have been slowly starting to train for a marathon, cross your fingers I get a lottery ticket for the NYC Marathon! Otherwise it’s going to be the Marine Corps in DC. And then lots more traveling…it’s going to be a very international year for us since last year’s wedding circuit left us broke yet miles-rich. Puglia, Italy, Istanbul, Singapore, Bali, maybe the Middle East. It’s going to be oh so fun!
I just got my Global Entry card so I can cut all those crazy custom lines at LAX, well worth the $100 and trip to Tijuana. Well, San Ysidro is practically Mexico anyway. Getting interviewed by a Border Control officer made my hands sweat a little. If you do a lot of international travel it is worth the trouble because you also get TSA precheck on all flights, including domestic. I sadly lost my United Silver status this year so I needed to find some way to fight the system, and this was it.
I also just took a pretty sweet photography class at Right Light Studios in San Diego, so more pictures on the way. I actually know what the buttons on my camera mean now, it’s a miracle. I know what Aperture is. Kind of. I plan to take more classes because apparently iPhoto editor can’t make my pictures better and I’ve been scamming the whole time, so says my instructor…. wahh.
Welcome Welcome Welcome. Thanks for taking a looksy! In case you don’t already know and to immediately solve any confusion– Willettte is my middle name (minus a T) and I have always liked it more than the other 2/3rds of my name. It’s French and makes my other 2 Irish names look so boring. Hopefully my blog will be more like my middle name and less like my middle-aged librarian first name. Enjoy!