Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Life or Life...

Just after I published that self-pity post, I decided to watch a video that had been on my to-do list for the last few days. I think it was God's way of convicting me that I need to have a different outlook on life.

 If you have seen me in the last few months, you have probably noticed my Team Ben bracelet that I wear to remind me to pray for my friend Ben Farley who is battling cancer. To give a brief background, the Farleys are our neighbors and family friends back home. Their middle son, Ben, was re-diagnosed with cancer a few months ago and has been an encouraging witness of faith throughout this whole process. I have loved following along and hearing updates from my mom, and I got to hang out with Will Farley, his brother, this past weekend in Istanbul. Ben was a year behind me at CPA, and this video is of him sharing at CPA chapel last week. It was inspiring and encouraging to me to see my friend wholeheartedly rely on God, but also using his battle to share Christ's love with others. I promise, if you watch Ben's talk, you will not regret it. If you can't find 45 minutes to spare, then I will leave you with the line that struck me the most. Commenting on the news that the doctors told Ben he would only survive two or three months, he said, "It's not life-or-death situation...its life or life." That is a powerful statement and one that I hope to be able to live out in my life.

xoxo

Cold and Sick...

After an amazing vacation, life had to go downhill somehow. I was not picturing it playing out like this, but such is life. I am so sick, with a bad head cold and sinus congestion and just all around feel pretty miserable. Well, I thought being sick in college was pretty bad because my mom wasn't there, but I always had sweet friends, roommates, and my cousin's house to help me get through it. I guess this is another minus to living alone. Being sick alone is about as fun as being deserted on a desert island alone.

I woke up this morning feeling terrible, I look around to find absolutely no medicine in my entire apartment. I had one mini thing of kleenex, but that was it. Every time I needed to drink something, I had to get up and make it myself. (Also, I can't call people with whom I have to speak in German because my German is so bad...so I had to drag myself down to the school to tell them I was too sick to come in today. Luckily I looked miserable enough that my co-teacher was horrified and told me to go immediately back to bed.) I have virtually no food in my apartment (although I had several cans of soup, thankfully!), but I did not have the energy to walk to the grocery store in the pouring rain. I will admit, though, that I did have energy to watch a few Downtown Abbey episodes in bed, which was the only bright spot in my day.  I am just now (at almost 7pm) able to get out of bed and sit up, so at least I was able to make some soup. And hopefully this means I am on the mend!

I realize, life could be worse than being sick and alone in Germany. And if this is my biggest complaint in life, I really should be counting my blessings, but I will still say that I have learned my lesson about always being prepared (with meds AND food!) for the worst. Here's to hoping I will be better in the morning!

xoxo

Monday, October 29, 2012

Incredible Istanbul...

As we endured our crazy day of travel getting to Istanbul, I glanced through Kate's Turkey guide book. It described Istanbul as a perfect mixture of european and asian, old and new, historical and trendy...and the list continued. That description could not have been more accurate. It also had a crazy combination of animals, foods, and interesting people. And I felt like we got a really good taste of all of the varieties that Istanbul had to offer...and I was absolutely smitten with the city!

The first full day, we were fortunate enough (thanks to the McLaughlins!) to have a tour guide, Iden, who worked for National Geographic and was full of interesting knowledge, turkish culture, and some interesting jokes. Iden showed us all around the old town part of Istanbul.
Iden took us around, telling us all about the mosques, showing us the first Dome ever built, taking us under the city to the cistern, and educating us on Turkish history, from the Bible to Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire.

 
Along with the educational side of the tour, He still managed to bring us to authentic turkish restaurants for both lunch and dinner, introduced us to fresh squeezed pomegranate juice and chewy turkish ice cream (both were crazy, hilarious experiences!), and finally took us expereince to the turkish baths (I have to add...they were crazy. He told us it would be an exfoliating massage, it was more like a full body rub down from old turkish women!). 


 
Also, immediately upon arrival and even moreso as time passed, we realized that Istanbul was packed with cats. We would easily pass 15 stray cats in a five minute walk to our hotel, but additionally we saw all sorts of animals (dead and alive!) all over the streets. This spurred Lisa and I to start a mental list of "stuff that would never happen in America" and it was quite long by the end of the trip!


The next day, we opted for a relaxing cruise up the Bosphorous river! It was beautiful looking out over the city from a boat, and we got a two hour break in a small Turkish town where we got lunch and hiked to castle to look out over the Black Sea. The views were breathtakingly beautiful, the hike was breathtaking because I am out of shape. The boat trip was all day, but it allowed us to finally rest our legs and prepare for Kate's birthday celebration that night!
   


We had another brief tour with a nice guy who showed us around the Taksim area, which is the trendier part of Istanbul with a lot of neat places to eat and shop. After that we got a nice dinner and the birthday festivities commenced! We met up with my friend and neighbor from home, Will Farley, who is also teaching in Turkey. We also ran into my good friend Laura's brother, Ellis, who we had never met but managed to recognize when he struck up a conversation. It is SUCH a small world. But, anyways, we had quite the crew together and all had an amazing, hilarious, long night celebrate Kate's birthday!

The last day we moved from our hostel in Old Town to a nice hotel in Taksim for Kate's birthday. We explored that area and shopped a little, then enjoyed a turkish cake (complete with sparklers!) and an amazing dinner at a restaurant that looked out over all of Istanbul. 



It was an amazing trip...Istanbul was an interesting and indescribable city! I also do not think I have ever laughed so much in my life, so needless to say I was sad to say goodbye yesterday. I hope to make it back to Turkey at least one more time this year...and we found this T-shirt that describes our adventure perfectly.

xoxo

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Winter in Wald-Michelbach

I returned from fall break today to find SNOW in my home town of Wald-Michelbach. I guess fall really is over already...it is crazy. I have been back in Germany for a matter of hours, but I was greeted from the plane with a gust of winter winds, had to stop twice for hot chocolate, and still had to take a cab home because I couldn't stand the cold. Granted, I was still dressed from sunny Istanbul (which I can't wait to share pictures and stories about...) but I have a feeling this is going to be a long, cold German winter. Cheers to new experiences!

This is me, walking to the bus station, almost three weeks ago as I departed for (an AMAZING) fall break vacation to Italy and Istanbul. Little did I know, I would be returning to a white wald-michelbach.

The snow on my window sill and the cute little red roofs that are now snow coated, and probably will be for the next five months!

Snow surrounds the sky lights in my apartment.

xoxo

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Traveling Trauma...

I would classify Kate, Lisa, and myself as all pretty seasoned travelers. We all live in Europe and manage to travel and get around well for the most part...today was quite an exception.

Firstly, we woke up too tired to make our 8:15 am appointment at the Ufitzi Museum...so we opted for some extra sleep before our day of travel to Istanbul. That was strike one.

We finally dragged ourselves out of bed, ate a good breakfast at the hostel, packed our bags, and we were on our way to the train station.

The train was hectic...we couldn't find seats anywhere so we just crashed in first class and luckily we were all three asleep when the guy came to check tickets so we got to stay. We had another weird incident with a guy trying to steal my purse but fortunately he wasn't discreet at all and Kate happened to be awake so that crisis was averted.

When we finally got to Rome, we needed to catch a bus to the airport. After a crazy Italian lady told us it was impossible, we came across the most energetic man of all time who put us on the bus without a problem. We realized when we were about to get on the bus that our flight left 40 minutes LATER than we thought, which was literally a gift from God.

So we get on the bus finally, and the ride was equally as bad (if not worse) than the boat to Capri. Lisa and I both got to pleasure of seeing our breakfasts again. And it somehow ended up taking almost an hour to get to the airport. Needless to say, it was a miserable ride.

By the time we got to the airport, we had exactly an hour til our flight left. All three of us were feeling sick, which just is not how you want to feel when you need to hurry. Just after having to beg and cut the security line, we hear the loud speaker announce our final boarding call. We all three took off at a dead sprint through the airport, but thankfully Kate is in good enough shape to sprint the whole time (of course our gate was the last one in the furthest terminal...) but Kate got there in time so we all made it. We even had time to get drinks since we were all out of breath (see picture). And, the worst part of the whole thing was, even after our running and vomming trying to get there, tons of people strolled up after us and still got on the flight, so our stress was basically for nothing.

And, the craziness didn't even stop there. the flight was basically like a party...people just casually walked around the entire time. The pilot came on the intercom twice to tell everyone to remain seated during take off and people still didn't sit down. all three of us were just baffled by the whole thing.

But despite all the travel craziness, the combination of trains, buses, and the sketchy Pegasus airlines did finally get us safely to Turkey. I can't wait to experience this new culture and country...and I am sure that the three of us have plenty more adventures awaiting us in Istanbul.

xoxo

leaving the land of gelato, vino, and endless pasta...


I've been in Italy for almost two weeks and I have absolutely loved it...but I am glad I am leaving now before my body weight has doubled from all the italian food.

the trip really has been wonderful. my mom and I enjoyed both some relaxing days at the amalfi coast and some touristy days packed with sight seeing all over Rome. It was great getting to spend time with my mom and we were sad to say goodbye. she flew back to the states on saturday and I headed up to Florence to meet up with friends.

I adore Florence...it is easily in my top five favorite cities in the world. It is beautiful and packed with character, but it's also walkable and gives you the small town vibe. And the added bonus, my closest younger friends are almost all studying in Florence (there's a great Wake crew there for the semester!), so it was great to hang out with them and have them show me the ropes. On Sunday, Kate arrived from Turkey and Lisa flew in from London which was a fun and much needed reunion. We explored the city together and shared our stories over delicious Italian meals and lots of wine. It was so refreshing to be with old friends in such a great city. We definetly could have stayed longer. But after a few fun days in Florence, we packed our bags and are currently en route to Turkey.

I am so excited to see Istanbul and get a taste of Turkish culture! especially since Kate is living in turkey, it will be fun to have an insider to show us around!

here are a few snaps from italia...

xoxo

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life in Capri...


...and suprisingly not because of the breathtaking views, the wonderful Italian cuisine, or the beautiful designer stores. I thought I was stuck on Capri for life because the boat ride over was SO horrible. I, in all seriousness, did not think i could survive another one to get me off the island.

We had spent the past few days on the amalfi coast, and thought we'd casually boat over to Capri for the day before heading on to Rome. well, the boat looked acceptable so we hopped on with a bunch of other tourists. little did we know, we were in for a ROUGH ride. I managed to control my horribly weak stomach somehow, but my mom unfortunately didn't. regardless we both arrived in Capri green faced and thinking we were stuck on that island for life. luckily it's a beautiful place, and we did get to see it when we finally recovered from our seasickness, but we were worried all day about how we were going to get back. my mom wanted to price helicopter rides, but by the grace of God I was able to get us on a cruise ship to Naples so we arrived unscathed. it was quite an eventful day. and as beautiful as Capri is, we were both glad when we realized it wouldn't have to be our permanent home.

(apologies that I am blogging from my phone and cant put the pictures where I want them, but here are the captions!)

1. my mom and I after we dodged the tourist traps and hiked out to an isolated spot with a great view
2. taking selfies because we were alone with this beautiful background
3. this is where we sat to recover from our terribly sick stomachs (I know, at least we had a pretty view, but that doesn't make up for how sick we were!)
4. windy but beautiful beaches!
5. this is, again, where we hiked out to see the view...but in this picture you can see a boat like the cursed one we rode in on!

and now we are safely in Rome, awaiting more adventures over the next few days! xoxo

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Italian adventures!

I know Italian food is delicious...I've been to Italy before. But this pizza we ate today was, hands down, the best pizza I've ever put in my mouth. It was also featured in the movie Eat, Pray, Love...hence my mom's Julia Roberts imitation.

So, I pretty much never wanted to eat again after that pizza, but we decided to go to this highly reccomended resturaunt by the water. I had already announced that I was only getting a salad, but when we got there, none of the waiters spoke a word of English. (I will give it to them...the view was outstanding!) My mom just sweetly smiled and kept saying "yes! si!" to everything the waiter said...which landed us with a pitcher of wine and a huge four-course, seafood dinner. As we ate our meal we noticed that all the other (italian speakers) in the resturaunt got menus and chose various entrees...we just got a random assortment including crawdads, squid, and octopi. The price, that we didnt see til we got our bill, was a little outrageous...but the whole dinner was a hilarious authentic experience!

We ended the day with some delicious Italian gelato...which is a always a sure bet!

Aside from eating all day, we did visit Pompei, which was amazingly historical and neat to explore. Tomorrow we head on to Capri and the Amalfi Coast! xoxo