Hoşgeldiniz!!

24 07 2012

Hoşgeldiniz (Welcome) is so fun to say…try it. Hosh-gal-din-iz 

I’ve been picking up Turkish words here and there but still must resort to the dictionary and primitive hand gestures if I absolutely need to get my point across. Recently I’ve done some pretty amazing sight seeing and I want to share some of the panoramic pictures I’ve taken. My most favorite place thus far was the Sultanahmet Mosque. It was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I. A brief description I found while doing some reading provides an interesting background story on the mosque and it’s famous 6 minarets. 

One of the most notable features of the Blue Mosque is visible from far away: its six minarets. This is very unique, as most mosques have four, two, or just one minaret. According to one account, the Sultan directed his architect to make gold (altin) minarets, which was misunderstood as six (alti) minarets.

Whatever the origins of the unique feature, the six minarets caused quite a scandal, as the Haram Mosque in Mecca (the holiest in the world) also had six minarets. In the end, the sultan solved the problem by sending his architect to Mecca to add a seventh minaret.

Click the following links for panoramas:

SULTANAHMET entrance 

SULTANAHMET indoor

MARKET shopping

BUYUKADA ISLAND, just 20 minutes boat ride from Istanbul

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A word on Istanbul Roadways…

27 06 2012

Missed your exit? Gotta catch the bus? In need of a pack of travel tissues, a quick snack, or a bouquet of roses? No problem! The Turks have a solution for all of these.

Since being in Turkey I have come to realize that the minute you get in the car you’re in for an adventure. Driving down the busy highways it is common place to see people milling about everywhere. As mentioned before, if you need to catch the bus, all you must do is go stand on the side of the road and wait til you see the one you need and flag it down. You maaaay need to run a little bit to jump in the door before it takes off again, so hopefully you don’t have a bum leg or something that could slow you down. To expand upon the exit dilemma, all the Turks do is throw it in reverse until they’ve come upon the one they missed. Problem solved! And in times of intense traffic jams ( happening almost ALWAYS in Istanbul) inevitably there will be somebody rapping on your window with an array of offerings from tissues, to fresh bread, flowers, or even a chainsaw (yes it’s true!). So no worries, if you’ve forgotten something at home there’s a good chance you can pick it up through your window on the way to your destination. How convenient!

One last thing I find extremely odd is,
apparently people in Istanbul (not sure about all Turkish people) love park and outdoor space, but since there are not many parks in the city many people have taken to lounging on the decorative greens a midst the highways. Sometimes you can see groups of people drinking tea or even grilling up a meal to enjoy…all the while a constant stream of noisy traffic rumbles by. Lovely.





Merhaba from Istanbul!

1 06 2012

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Well it’s been almost three weeks since I’ve been here and I’ve already done so much! Time is absolutely flying! The family I am au pairing for is simply delightful! The father Nazim works for Ford motor company, mother Ebru is a professor of communications, their little girl Naz is nearly 8 and Mine (pronounced Mee-nay) is their nanny of 7 years. They live in an apartment on the Asian side of the city so it’s a pretty big chore to go to the European side (the older, more touristy side) than I had realized, thus I have not ventured out that far on my own quite yet. In any case, I really don’t need to as the family constantly has activities and events in one part of the city or another all the time.

Last week Naz had her piano recital on the European side and I was able to get my first glimpse into the fantastic atmosphere there. SO many beautiful and ancient Mosques and buildings, streets stuffed with poeple, vendors, stray dogs and cats, and of course gypsies. It was a feast for my eyes, I can hardly wait to go again with some more time on my hands for exploration.

I also spent several days touring small parts of the city with Mine. Considering though that she doesn’t speak a word of English nor I Turkish, we were, and are, constantly in a tough spot for understanding anything either one of us says. Sometimes it can be quite comical as we both try to act out what we want to say. Although, her way of gesticulating is not what I’m used to (say for example in Italy where they’re the Kings and Queens of talking with their hands) so usually I’m still at a loss in comprehension. But that’s all right we get along great despite the language barrier and I am so grateful she was willing to spend so much time walking me around the city. She’s so kind!

Speaking of kindness, I must say Turkish people have proven to be some of the most kind and most welcoming people I know. They truly want to show me all that Turkey has to offer and I’m constantly told “Oh you have to try such and such, it’s tradtional…” At one of the first dinners at a revered Kebap restaurant Ebru kept saying this over and over “this is traditional, this is traditional” at one point I stopped her and said, “Do you realize that there is not one thing I have eaten so far that you haven’t said is traditional? In the U.S. we don’t really have that. What are we supposed to say, ‘Try this hamburger, it’s very traditional!’?”  I am so happy to be in a place that is so rich with culture and tradition. Everyday is interesting with new things to learn and questions to ask!





Guarda Firenze attraverso i miei occhi (See Florence through my eyes)

8 05 2012

I have no idea what the actual name of this park is but we call it “The Snake” because there is a huge stone snake running down the stair case. The cool thing about it is is that water trickles down the inside of the snake’s back and ends in a fountain coming out of it’s mouth and into a small pool at the bottom of the stairs. Click the link here Florence 360* to see a full circle view of the sights to be had from the park. I love it 🙂





Piano, Piano…

7 05 2012

It’s my third and final week here in Florence. My days have been filled with, relaxation, walks, watching entire seasons of Mad Men online, enjoying the company of Landi, loving the fits of laughter we’ve found ourselves in recently, and cooking up new things in the kitchen every night.

On the subject of cooking, those of you who know my skills in the kitchen know that they fall short when it comes to pasta. As of recently I’ve tried to improve that flaw and I think I’m well on my way. Pappardelle with garlic, arugula, and tomatoes started it off (this one I learned how to make at my homemade pasta cooking course I took a few weeks back). The highlight so far has been the Caramelized tomatoes on gnocchi that I whipped up the other night before our trip to the Gelateria de’ Medici (more on that later). This has got to be one of the better pastas I’ve had in a long while and I just can’t get over the fact that I made it, not some Tuscan restaurant. If you know what’s good for you, you will go to the store right now and get the ingredients for dinner tonight, you won’t be sorry because the best part is…it is SO easy to make.

Moving on…Landi lives by a gelateria called Badiani. It is supposedly named the 2nd best gelato in all of Florence. It is one of my favorite places to go for a sweet treat after dinner. But knowing it has always held the number 2 spot I couldn’t help but wonder what the top dog had to offer. I finally got Landi to take me to Gelateria de’ Medici, known as the best gelato in Florence. It was much smaller than Badiani but held so much rich and royal charm fit for the Medici name. The cold cases along the walls were filled with gorgeous cakes and frozen fruit with sorbetto inside and the array of gelato flavors was much different than Badiani. I chose tre gusti (3 flavors) and out we went for a walk back home. The verdict….I still would choose Badiani over Medici anyday.

To address the title of this post, Piano, Piano means slowly, slowly. I cannot tell you how many times I hear this phrase uttered daily. When I speak with Italians about my struggles to learn the language or my job search in their country, they all have the same answer: piano, piano. For most young people like myself who’ve just graduated college the common expectation is to hurry up and find a solid job and get your life in order. But maybe the Italians have a point. Slowly, slowly, don’t worry be happy, things will come as they will. Of course when told this, they are not insinuating that you sit back and let life run it’s course, that’s a good way to not get anywhere, but be patient, and enjoy what life is giving you now. Frustration only feeds the fire of worry and discontentment. Take a hold of the opportunities presented to you to see where they lead and slowly, slowly you may find yourself exactly where you always imagined.





Back in action…..Io spero.

19 04 2012

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Hard to believe but over a year has gone by since my last post. I guess my dreams of becoming a regular blogger where smashed flat by a terrible case of procrastination and overall laziness towards typing everything out. Looking back on my previous posts, I may have gone on and on a bit too much. Perhaps this time around I will try for a more ‘to the point’ or ‘short and sweet’ approach. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Anyways…to catch you up on the past year from when this blog was last updated…After Italy I had a quick Christmas at home then hightailed it to NYC for crazy amounts of good times, a fair share of studying and a whole lotta interning for 4 months. The whole time I was there though, I was itching to return to Italy. I found myself returning at the beginning of June (2011) as an Au pair for an Italian family in the Tuscan countryside for 3 months.

I boarded the plane back to the states to return to Kent State where, SURPRISE!! I found out I could graduate early. Thus another plan to come back to Europe was hatched. Now here I am sitting in the dining room of yet another Italian family but only this time I am in Monte Carlo, Monaco. My time is almost up though as I only have roughly three weeks left on my Schengen Visa. So I will go to Florence and spend my remaining time in blissful Florence in the company of Landi (il mio ragazzo) and quite unfortunately his terribly annoying roommates (c’est la vie).

Next stop on my list is a country that isn’t part of the Schengen area…Turkey!! I’ve found a Turkish family in Istanbul and will go spend 3 months with them before my return to Florence once more. I can’t wait for the experiences I will have there! Everything is so different from what I’ve experienced thus far and I am just filled with excitement thinking about all that I can learn there! It is interesting to note that Istanbul is divided onto two continents, Europe and Asia. The family I will be living with lives on the Asian side! 🙂 Hopefully this time I can keep this blog thing up long enough to post more frequently about my adventures there (Inshallah).

So cheers to you for clicking on my blog once again! I hope I don’t disappoint.

Buona giornata a voi!





Venezia!!

13 11 2010

Venice has been known by many monikers..”City of Water”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City”, “City of Canals”…whatever you wish to call it, I went and I loved it! The only thing that missed the memo to show up and make it a perfect day was the sun.

View from outside the train station

Before we left to catch the bus I did a little reading up on the city. When I happened upon the sentence, “In November Aqua alta (high water) is a common problem and you could easily find yourself ankle deep in some questionable looking water”, I got a bit nervous. I mean hellooo it was only in the high 50’s out, not exactly the kind of weather I’d enjoy going for a cool dip in. But my worries were in vain, we got lucky it was dry as a bone the whole day!

The day’s activities:

  • First up, Vaporetto (water bus) ride to Piazza San Marco to see St. Mark’s Basilica.
  • Murano Glass blowing demonstration. This was a unique opportunity because glass production in Venice is reserved to the island of Murano. The process posed quite the fire hazard at the time when the majority of buildings were constructed of all wood so separating it from the main island was the best answer.
  • Gondola ride!
  • Our tour guide took us on a walking tour to show us some sights away from the normal tourist areas.

The Rialto Bridge

Crazy Tour guide no doubt with a cigarette in the other hand..

Venice's Leaning Tower

The Grand Canal

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The day went so quickly! I had a wonderful time exploring around such a beautiful and intriguing city with two of my roommates. We laughed a lot and couldn’t get over our hilarious tour guide and the funny things he said. Definitely a trip I won’t soon forget!

Megan, Megan and Me

Ladies take note: If you’re going to Venice to FIND a husband rather than with one, might I suggest starting out with either a Gondolier or Glass blower…take your pick 😉

Murano Glass Demo

Gondola Ride