sarah vs the world

Not a video game, not a comic, not a band, but an amazing adventure continues...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Trip Continues.....back to Istanbul for the final leg of Phase 1!

Still more to tell about the travelling.  After we left the beach, we headed back to Istanbul for a few days.  Most of this post will be photos, as there as just too much to show, but it was amazing.   The four of us drove overnight back to Istanbul arriving back very early in the morning.  After a bit of a sleep at Atilla's mum's place, Harmos headed back to the UK to get ready for a new gig.  But Atilla kept entertaining Stanley and I.  We hit the Grand Bazaar straight away, but we were armed with a list of exactly what we wanted to get so it was easy.  It really is amazing, but when we got to the Spice Bazaar, it was very crowded.  Luckily we were on our way back to our accommodation.  I bought a new ring, a towel like what you get at the Turkish baths and a few other bits.  We also managed to find a place to stop on the way back to get fish sandwiches on boats on the water.  We then headed to Atilla's coffee shop (where we went several times!) for a bit of a sit down.  Great afternoon in Istanbul.
From the Bazaar....

The New Mosque (from 1500!)
The fish sandwich
My oreo cookie shake from the coffee shop
The shop itself (I loved the floor tiles!)
A collage from the day
The view from our 2nd Istanbul rooftop
The next day was big time tourist day.  Stanley and I got up early to meet Mel Stanton at the Ayasofya.  This is a cathedral that became a mosque that is now a museum in Istanbul.  It was incredible.  We also managed to see the Basilica Cisterns and the Blue Mosque all before lunch! Very good touristing.  
Ayasofya Photos

A tile mosaic - these were covered up when it became a mosque, but were discovered later

The cisterns

The Blue Mosque
Stanley and I in appropriate gear
The carpet
The pano between Ayasofya and The Blue Mosque
The collage of the day
After a bit of a nap, we made reservations at the famous Pera Palace Hotel for High Tea.  This has to have been one of the best High Teas I have ever been to.  Not only did it have all of the usual stuff, it also served cocktails in tea pots and cups on ice.  Brilliant.  The hotel itself has a long history opening as a stopping point on the Orient Express.  It is extremely opulent and is, of course, managed by Jumeirah now.  I bought a book for my ipad about it called Midnight at the Pera Palace which has been teaching me all about Istanbul's very long melting pot history.  Good read.  

Later in the afternoon, Atilla came to meet us.  We headed to another rooftop for some snacks and beer.  We ended up at a cool cocktail bar with a famous bartender friend of Atilla's.  He has been featured on a travel show on the travel channel for his work.  It was a fabulous end to a very big day!
The rooftop shot - this was taken with my 3D feature on my camera
All of us on the roof at sunset
At the best cocktail bar in Istanbul
A fun few shots of us at the cocktail bar
So the next day, we got up and went to have Menemen in a street appropriately named Breakfast Street in Besitas.  The cafe we went to had about 25 kinds of jam.  Delicious.  Then we headed back to the Coffee Shop to have our Turkish Coffee fortunes told.  You drink the coffee, flip over the cup on the saucer, spin it around a few times and let it cool entirely.  Then someone can tell you your future.  It was a bit scarily accurate for a lady who didn't know Stanley and I.  Then we headed out to a tour on the Bosphorus on a boat.  After that, we had a lovely fish dinner and headed back to the cocktail bar.  We had some sangria and went to see some friends of Atilla's play a gig.  We had a fun last night in Istanbul.
A castle on the Bosphorus
Crazy spiral staircases in the streets of Istanbul
The set up at the gig
That pretty much wrapped up Istanbul.  All 3 of us were meant to head to Berlin in the morning for a week.  Unfortunately, Atilla had too much to do at the Coffee Shop, so Stanley and I set off by ourselves.  But the next adventure was calling us!  
So that completes what we referred to as Phase 1 of the holiday.  Next Stop: Phase 2 Berlin.  
Lots of love,

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Holiday time - Turkey Leg

So the trip is nearly come to a close, and I haven't even put a post up about any of it yet.  It is going to be done in several parts, as I do not want to bore you all.  The photos are amazing though, so if you aren't interested in reading about our adventures, just look at the lovely images.  
I basically started off in New York.  Just spent a few days hanging out at The Jane Hotel near Chelsea.  It just so happened that AG was in town seeing U2, so I took him to a few of my favourite places including McSorley's of course.  I had a rainy night, so I sat in with a burger and Magnolia Bakery watching a Sex and the City Marathon.  I also managed to get to The Curious Incident on Broadway.  Amazing Show.  A few snaps from NYC....
At High Tea at Tea and Sympathy
Sunset over the Hudson
Curious Incident
AG and I at McSorley's - still my favourite in NY
The Night In....
At the Boathouse in Central Park
Then I headed to Istanbul to meet the others....
Thinking back about all we did over the course of 4 weeks, we realised we managed to cram in so much, whilst relaxing, eating, drinking and touristing about.  I loved every minute of it.  I landed in Istanbul and met Alycica Stanley, Nick Harmos and Atilla Gezmen at the airport.  We collected our car and headed back to our Airbnb.  Stanley and Harmos arrived the day before.  We were planning on heading out first thing the next morning to start the drive down the west coast, so we didn't have lots of time for seeing stuff.  We did manage to fit in a lovely lunch at our favourite Turkish breakfast place from Baku, The House Cafe, a few drinks in the city and dinner at nice Turkish restaurant before hitting the road early the next morning.
Our First Istanbul AirBnB
Lunch at The House Cafe
Galata Tower
The View from our Rooftop
Dinner with Bahar
So bright and early we started off for our big drive down the west coast.  We planned to meet some of Atilla's friends for breakfast in Tekirdağ.  Then we continued on to ANZAC Cove and Gallipoli. For those of you non-ANZACs, this was the site of a famous battle during World War I where lots of Aussies and Kiwis lost their lives on the beaches in Turkey.  It was 100 years since this battle.  I have always wanted to get there, so it was amazing to see.  Then we caught a ferry across to continue our drive.  We stayed the night in Assos at an amazing place called Yelken Kamp.  We met up with other friends of Atilla's.  Our dinner was fantastic, the water was beautiful, the boys drank too much Rakı, and Stanley and I probably had a bit too much beer.  But it was probably our favourite stop.  I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about the word Kamp, but we stayed in little cabins which were perfect for just spending most of the time in our bathers.  Just one night, though, then we continued on....
On our way in our 4 Wheel Drive
Our First Breakfast Stop in Tekirdağ
ANZAC Cove Memorial


On the Ferry Crossing
A bit collage-y
The Pier at Yelken Kamp
Beers post our first pier swim
The boys mastering a Rakı flipping trick
Another swim in the morning and breakfast
So the next morning we drove to Alaçatı, an older town near Çeşme.  We stopped by Atilla's mum's place for lunch on the way.  We stayed the night in Alaçatı.  We met up with more friends of Atilla's and organised to meet them at their restaurant for breakfast the next day.  This was an amazing Turkish breakfast in the backyard of a big house.  I loved this one.  We also managed to meet up with Onur and hit a beach club before driving down to Gündoğan, where we lived for the next ten days thanks to the lovely Nadine!
At Atilla's Mum's place
Drinks in the backyard that night - complete with beds!
Me pondering Alaçatı
The 5 of us strutting through town the next morning (Atilla mastered the selfie!)
One without Stanley
Us at the lovely courtyard breakfast
Then we reached our longer term destination.  Gündoğan was amazing.  It was near a relatively big beach town called Bodrum, but away from it all so we genuinely felt like we had escaped.  Post our massive time in Baku, it really was exactly what we wanted.  10 days was the perfect amount of time as well.  Each day, the hardest decision was where to swim -- the infinity pool, the pier 200 steps down away, the beach in town.  Oh it was really rough.  The first night we were in town, we just kind of got to know the surroundings, stocked up on some food and just chilled out.  The next morning was about the pool and the pier.  A man turned up at our door with fresh fish for sale, which we of course purchased.  Stanley and Harmos had a fish rub-off competition that night, and Harmos cooked the fish on the BBQ.  Canan, a friend of ours who helped build the stadium in Baku lived in Gündoğan, so we caught up with her that night as well.  
The villa
Our first night out in Gündoğan
The view to the sea
The infinity pool (more shots to come)
The pier
 Atilla going to dive in
 Me just lounging at the pier
Stanley and I after walking back up the 200 steps!

Stanley with her fish rub
Harmos with his fish rub
Dinner served on the top balcony
We also decided we needed to hold a 'Come Menemen With Me' competition.  Menemen is kind of Turkish scrambled eggs cooked with tomatoes, peppers etc.  So after a bit of research, we headed off to the fresh food market to buy our ingredients.  We drew names out of hat to see who would go first.  We ended up starting with Canan's menemen, but she didn't count as an official competitor.  Atilla decided he would try another Turkish breakfast dish of his own design.  5 days of fabulous breakfast later and even one extra day of using up all of the ingredients, the winner remains undecided.  After our breakfast at Canan's house, we spent a day down in the town at the beach.  We also determined we needed to have a watersports day which consisted of boys riding Jet Skis and the girls on something called a water buggy.  I have yet to collect the photos from this day, but once I get them, I will post them.  It was hilarious.  We also spent one quite massive night out in Bodrum -- no one really remembers how we got home.  The next day was spent recovering (in fact, our menemen competition ended up being served up at dinner time!), and we never really went back to Bodrum after that night.  But we did have fun!  We had a few guest visitors along the way including Bahar and Melanie Stanton.
Canan's Menemen day
At the beach with Canan
Nick Harmos vs Canan in Backgammon/Tavla
Come Menemen with Me Day One - Stanley
All the ladies on the night out in Bodrum (I hear there are a few more on Facebook, but I will stick with this nice classy one)
Harmos cooks his menemen on the BBQ
All finished and prepped
 We all sit down for Harmos' menemen dinner with Bahar
 My menemen - I had bacon with mine
Atilla's special breakfast dish
We spent a lovely day at Nobu - the Japanese restaurant which also has a fabulous beach club complete with swim up bar not far away from where we were staying.  We hung out by the pool and sea all day, then dashed home for a quick clean up and wardrobe change for our dinner booking.  Mel Stanton was on hand for this day as well. 
View from our beach chairs
The pool complete with swim up bar
All the girls
Us leaving the beach part of the day
On the way back for dinner
The sunset that night
Pool side
The girls dressed up
Atilla, Stanley and Mel went on a drive to some other bays the next day while Harmos and I decided to to have another lovely day at the Nobu beach club.  Much to my surprise, they all surprised me with a Hot Stone Massage at the end of the day for my pending birthday which was the next day.  I wasn't that excited about getting another year older, so I said we could only refer to it as Boat Day since we decided to book a private boat for the day.  It was seriously the best Boat Day ever.  I loved it.  We stopped at about 6 different spots around the sea and just went for long swims.  Our Captain made a fabulous lunch.  And the Boat Day even featured a cake.  The day after Boat Day, we had one more final day which we basically spent cleaning up and fitting in a few more quick swims.  Then we drove all night back to Istanbul.  The time in Gündoğan was absolute magic.  We saw plenty of sunsets, even a couple of sun rises, had a few nights of board games on the terrace, made cocktails, had lovely food and even watched the meteor shower.  Mostly just relaxing, swimming and hanging out.  We all left very tan!  Unfortunately it is fading, but we will all remember this trip for a long time to come I am sure.  
Stanley and I on Boat Day
 The men assess the Captain's anchoring skills
 Our lunch
One of our swim spots had quite a few other chatty visitors
A bit of a Boat Day Collage
 The day the boys saw the sunrise
 Note the infinity pool view
The day the girls saw the sunrise (again - infinity pool style)
A little man love on the scooter
Trivial Pursuit night - for the curious, the boys won.
Colander Game Night
  Our Mojito Factory
 Our last photo out the front of the villa
So now I have written way too much already.  I have plenty more to go - Istanbul take 2 (completing the Turkey Leg), Part 2 - Berlin and Part 3 - 6 cities in 8 days.  It is has been an amazing journey and thinking about heading back to reality is a bit daunting.  Will update you all on my next movements when I get to that part of the story.  
All my love (from my current location - London),
Sarah xo