Saturday, July 31, 2010

Trip prep: spending the day

What can I say about today? I slept until 1 pm. Then I lazed around the dorm. I showered around 4 o'clock and slowly made my way to Kadikoy to pick up my train ticket for the morning. I then mosied back to the dorms. That concludes the activities for today. Exciting, I know.

I realize that I haven't posted pictures in a long time. I will do so soon. I haven't had too many interesting ones recently. I am going to Eskisehir tomorrow to visit my old friend Gur. Then Monday I am going to Ankara, and then I'm heading back to Istanbul on Tuesday.

Long day. Short night.

(This is the post from yesterday)

I woke up this morning feeling like P. Diddy. Although I didn't have my sunglasses because I lost them last Sunday, I hit the city. Everything was going smoothly until I was trying to do my hair. I've gotten in the habit of just taking my hair straightener to work. I don't want to wake up any earlier than I have to, and I never do anything till 9 or 10 anyways. So I was straightening my hair when I accidently straightened my ear (i.e. I burnt my ear). YOWSERS. The skin just fell off; it didn't bother to stay a blister for any longer than it had to. I got a band-aid from one of the nicest ladies in I've ever met, Aynur. Unfortunately, I sometimes have weird reactions to the matierals band-aids are made from.  This was one of those times. I ended up just taking it off. After that everything went fairly smoothly. I went to lunch and had kofte. I don't think it's something I'll miss when I go back to the states. It's just peculiar tasting. I figured though I won't be eating for a long time when I go back to the states - I better eat it now! I got back to the office to hear that some of my coworkers met up with people from Joy's company as well as Joy without inviting me. It would have be really fun to eat lunch with them (everyone between the companies knows each other because they used to be one company).

The rest of the afternoon was ok, nothing special. I left for the weekend and went to Joy's company to meet her and catch the service bus. Well, we got invited to go to Taksim with some other American students, who are leaving this weekend and wanted to have a final night out on the town. We decided to go and have fun.

We left the office and went to Besiktas where we met the other Americans, Daylan, John, and Iso. From there we went to Taksim. We ate dinner at some restaurant off Istiklal Caddesi, one of the most famous streets in Istanbul known for its shopping, clubs, bars, and restaurants. They called their Turkish professor and she came to meet us bringing her friend. While finishing dinner, the unanimous decision was to find a bar. We ended up going to Tunel, a bunch of back alleyways full of restaurants, bars, and a lot of people. Some of Joy's coworkers and one of mine were also having a night out. We called them, and they met up with us at the bar, Kose, in Tunel. That's when the real fun began. They were 5 guys, 2 of which were already well on their way to not remembering the night which made the night that much more fun - laughing at them.

We had drinks at the cafe/bar. The other Americans decided it was time for them to go because they were leaving in the morning. Joy and I stayed with our coworkers. We decided it was time to move on and go to a club. I had never really been to a club, not even an American one. I was disappointed at first because the music was weird. Let's be serious for a minute: what kind of club plays Grease Lightening from the movie Grease? As the night went on, the songs got a lot better. Everyone had a lot of fun I think.

We left around 2 or 2:30, which is why I did not post this last night. I was exhausted.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sneaky Sneaky

Work has been really frustrating the past few days. I am supposed to enter invoices into the database. It isn't a hard job when the invoices are legible. Not only are the invoices illegible, there are 400 of them. I made some mistakes with entering the data, so I had to go back and double check every single entry. There are still mistakes with the entries, and I know tomorrow will only bring the stress back. I am looking forward to a time without data entries!

The people in my office are hilarious. They will do just about anything to take a break from work, and once one person stops working social loping occurs. Today I was told that I sneak in and out of the office; I leave quietly without telling anyone. This is not true. I do NOT in fact do this all of the time. I only sneak out when I don't want to talk to anyone or when everyone is actually trying to be diligent or when I want to leave early. Oh, I guess that is all the time.

Telling people where I'm going has always been one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate telling people I'm going to the store to buy bread or hanging out with friends. Even worse, I LOATHE telling people I am going to the bathroom. Let's be honest, once someone says they're going to the bathroom your mind starts to wander. I personally don't like thinking about other people using the bathroom, nor do I want other people thinking about me using the bathroom. Gross. I have also encountered that I forget to tell someone when I am traveling. I have so many people that I have to inform, it's inevitable that I leave someone out. 

It made me laugh, though, when my coworkers said that I sneak around the office. They're kind of right in a way. Today at lunch I went to an art museum that I found around the corner. I wasn't sneaking, just wandering. It was modern art; it reminded me of my sisters. When I announced that I had been to the museum, my coworkers looked confused. They had never even heard of this museum. I was just taking my time, smelling the roses, when I noticed the sign. It was good to just stop and enjoy the art. There were some interesting things there, but I didn't have a chance to see them all. I will go back tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

8th week reflections!

I finally got the blogger to work. I think it was the internet at the dorm. I took my computer to work with me today, and I posted using the wireless there. I'm sure you might have noticed that this will be my 3rd post of today.

After walking behind an irritatingly slow person on the bridge to work, I asked myself, "Emily, why are you in such a rush to go to work?" I thought about it all day. Why do I rush to an office to sit down, beg for something to do, and try to be a diligent worker ALL the time? The slow walker was taking their time, looking at the city in front of them. Then I thought about all of the other slow walkers I have been behind for the past 8 weeks. Why do Americans try to rush through life? Why do I rush?

At the end of the tunnel it's not going to matter who was in the office before 9. It's not going to matter who entered the most invoices or who pleases Ogun Bey the most. It's about the journey; as long as you're enjoying the ride the world is at your feet.

The most important lesson I have learned thus far is to take time to smell the roses. You only live once, so why not enjoy it while you can.

I will be venturing back to the U.S. 3 weeks from today. I'm sad to be leaving, but I'm so excited to see my family and friends that the sadness is non-existent in comparison. Bring on the hugs!!!!


(From yesterday - 7/27)

Translations can go really smoothly or really badly.

Sometimes it's surprising to know what words people from foreign countries recognize in speech. My friends from the university as well as my coworkers use either really random words or really vulgar ones - they understand what you're saying when you use "bad words". For example, I had been working on a stack of data entries for an hour or 2 when I thought I deleted all of my work. I immediately shouted, "Oh, $*!#!" without thinking about it. It got extremely quiet for a minute, and people snickered. I turned bright red and continued my work. Some of the guys in the office were joking about it with me later.

This afternoon we were talking about my fall when one of my coworkers, Erdem, asked if I had been drinking alcohol when it happened. I said of course not. I don't need alcohol to fall. Another coworker, Murat Bey, said when he drinks alcohol he feels like he is flying. I understand that he knows how to fly planes; he is a pilot. Well, of course I then asked if he was a pilot. Everyone looked at me strangely so I typed pilot into google translate. Stupidly enough it's the same word in Turkish. They were only looking at me funny because I asked if he was a pilot. That started another round of laughter.

Another type of translation error that I have had is with the word "bored". There are some common phrases used to say that one is bored, or that something is boring. The root word is sıkmak, which means "to squeeze". The technical phrase for I am bored is canım sıktı, or my soul is squeezed. In Turkish, there are infixes to create more words. Thus another verb sıkılmak means "to be bored". It's easier and shorter to say sıkıldım rather than canım sıktı. It's an easy phrase to say, as long as you know your vowels! Notice that when I wrote it I used an i without a dot. If there were an i WITH a dot, the word would change. Sikilmek means "to fuck". I'm sure you can only guess what happened. Of course I messed up the vowels and said "I was fucked" instead of "I was bored".

I have also started teaching some English to people around the office. They can understand it, but they start to get shy when they want to speak. I told them when we first started, "Have confidence in what you say. If you mess up, people will correct you. They might have a good laugh first, but at least you'll learn the correct way of saying something. Trust me. I have a lot of experience with this!"

Old friends, new foods, & travel plans

This is the post from Monday!!!

 Famous bull statue in Kadikoy

Last night I met my old friend, Gur, in the neighboring district Kadikoy. I hadn't seen him for about a month or something like that. It was good to relax, walk around, and catch up. We talked about what I had and hadn't done thus far. We determined that I still had a lot more things to cross off my list of must-dos! To help me out, we decided to go to McDonalds and try one of the Turkish specialties: McTurco. Basically it's hamburger patties smothered in barbecue sauce wrapped in a pita - it reminded me of a barbecue gyro I once had at Olga's Kitchen. It was pretty good; it's not something I had expected from McDonalds. I made sure to take pictures of the menu. Luckily I'm such a good paparazzi that I was able to get all of the pictures I wanted before I got yelled at for taking pictures.

 Can you spot the differences??


Ok, mine was plain (no lettuce, tomatoes, etc.) which is why it looks pathetic

Today at work someone brought it Turkish Cotton Candy. It didn't look very appetizing, but I gave it a try anyways. It was delicious. It was all the sweetness of normal cotton candy, but instead, it was chocolate flavored rather than circus flavor. After that special treat I played solitaire for 3-4 hrs. Exciting, I know. I took the liberty of leaving work earlier than normal. 

 Looks kind of like fur, doesn't it?

Sometimes I feel like the people in the company feel bad that I am so young, sitting in the office. On the bright side, I get to have vacations pretty much whenever I want so it's not a big deal. I have a couple more places I would like to see before I head back home. I might not be able to go to all of them, but the current list is: Ankara, Eskisehir, Sinop, Canakkale, Antalya, and Alanya. Some of these places are in the same region; I just have to get to one of them first. In between rounds of solitaire, I have been working on travel plans. My goal for tomorrow is to buy train tickets!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ahh! Blog troubles!

I have been experiencing some technical difficulties with my blog. I have been unable to share entries. I am posting this from work, hoping that it is just something with the internet at the dorms. I have a couple more ways around this weird block, and I will be trying them all until I find another way that works.

The post that I wrote for yesterday is saved on my laptop in the dorms. Once I am able to post, that will be the first thing up.

This has been extremely frustrating. Every day I have posted something, so this unforseen break of routine is upsetting. I'm just hoping that every thing will work out by the time I get home tonight!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Post-Vacation Unwinding

Despite all of the hardships I faced on this vacation, I finally made it back to Istanbul. To fill in some empty holes, the hostel owner, Tuna, sent me to his friend that works at the otogar named Ozmen. Ozmen said he would help me find a ticket back to Istanbul for Saturday night, whether it was direct or a connection. This was at 9:30 am. He thought there would be an opening for a bus at 2 pm, and he was going to call me at 1 pm to confirm. So at 9:31 I dashed to Oludeniz to get my share of beach in before coming back. The mini-bus drivers in Fethiye are ungodly slow. It took 45 min to go 10 km. I planned accordingly to get back to the hostel with enough time to grab my bags and a quick change of clothes and make it to the otogar for the 2 o'clock bus. On the way in from Oludeniz I stopped at the otogar, it was on the way, to see if anything had come through. It hadn't. I went back to the hostel, which is when I posted yesterday.

I waited for a long time (close to 2 hrs), but he never called. I discussed the situation at hand with some of my friends, and everyone came to the same conclusion: go to the otogar and sort out the troubles myself. I packed up my bags and off I went. When I got to the otogar I ran into Ozmen almost immediately. He says to me, "didn't you get my message? You're leaving at 9 pm tonight with Efe Tur". Nope, I didn't. I went back to the beach for the remaining hours of my stay in Fethiye. On my return to the otogar, I stopped at the grocery store and bought a sandwich to eat on the bus; I hadn't eaten dinner yet. I got on the bus, found my seat, and began to eat. 3 ladies boarded the bus shortly after and looked at the row I was sitting in. I can understand enough Turkish to understand that they were obviously talking about me. When I was done with my sandwich they suggested that I put my backpack underneath. I would've originally done so, but my bag ripped and now has an enormous hole on the front. I didn't want anything to get damaged or fall out. These ladies were being pushy, and so I gave in. I came back and the one woman was in my seat that I was sitting in. I realized that they just wanted me to move because I was in the wrong seat to begin with. They could've just said that in the first place rather than making a big deal out of my foreignness.

Luckily the bus left right on time, and I was on my way back home! Sadly, it was a long bus ride. I didn't sleep much, and the woman next to me kept touching me. Ugh. I hate that. There was also no legroom whatsoever, and it didn't help when the man in front of me leaned his chair back making my trip even more uncomfortable. We made it to Istanbul in 11.5 hrs or so, which is pretty good. I was waiting for the service bus, and I thought to myself, "It's really sunny. I should put on my sunglasses". I reached into my bag for them, and they were GONE. They must have fallen out on the bus or somewhere in transit. To make matters worse, I needed a service to Umraniye which took 25 min of waiting and at least 2 angry customers waiting for the same bus. A bus eventually came for us and took us to Umraniye, the neighboring neighborhood to where my dorm is located. The drivers turned and asked where I needed to go after driving for 10 min. I said that I needed to go be close to Kisikli, another neighborhood. They, in response, said that this was the last stop so I'd have to figure it out on my own. Great. I had no idea where I was, and I couldn't see anything because it was so bright and my sunglasses (RIP) were nowhere to be found. I called my friend, and while we were talking I saw a minibus. He told me a street name to repeat to the driver, and we were off. We only drove approx 1min before I knew where we were. There is a short tunnel-bridge thing by my dorm, and I was only on the other side. Yes, I have walked through the tunnel, but I have never walked that far down the street or through that side of the tunnel (different traffic directions go different ways). In the end I really didn't even need to take the minibus.

I made it back home! Never have I been so excited to be back at Ozyegin University dorms. I immediately took a shower - I came straight from the beach to the bus...kind of gross but whatever. I am now sitting in one of the air conditioned rooms at the university recovering from my holiday, sulking about my sunglasses, and looking on the bright-side of life.

Lessons Learned from Selcuk-Fethiye Excursion:
-Traveling alone safely is possible
-Having a miserable vacation is never fun, and it sucks worse when you're alone
-Sightseeing is better when you have a friend to remember it with
-I'm really going to miss this place in about 4 weeks

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This morning I realized that to conclude my fabulous day yesterday, I forgot to book a ticket home for tonight. I am now sitting and waiting for an open ticket to come through. I'm desperate enough to go just about anywhere that will lead me to Istanbul.

On the bright side, I went to Oludeniz this morning. I now know what heaven looks like. The 2 hours I spent there were the best two hours of my Turkey trip thus far.

 The water was so clear!

The chair I used before they tried to charge me

Tour Boats

 View on the way out

It was totally worth all of the trouble of Fethiye.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Can it be tomorrow yet?

It all started when I was awoken by incoming travelers at the hostel I was staying at. They were whisper yelling. I had slept enough that I couldn't fully go back to sleep, so I got up early. I ate a nice breakfast and received a discount from my bill because I'm so sweet (that was the highlight of my day!). I left my hostel and went to the Otogar (bus lot) to catch my bus to Fethiye. Well, it was a little more complicated than it should have been. I had to change buses in Aydin, but I've had bus changes before, no big deal. I get on the bus and there is already some little boy screaming. He is located in the seat directly in front of me. He calmed down some when we started driving, but it was still an annoying way to start a 5 hr bus trip. The bus ride went well until I realized that the bus had wireless internet. I decided to check my e-mail to see if my parents had e-mailed me - they are venturing to Hungary alone! I can't believe I let that happen...anyways, there was no e-mail from my parents but from the hostel that I had made a reservation with the night before. The e-mail informed me that something unexpected had happened and I no longer had a reservation; they were now full. I scrambled to find another hostel to stay at, and I e-mailed them. I also took down the number so I could call when I got to Fethiye.

We arrived in Fethiye in good time; it didn't take as long as I had anticipated. I called the hostel. They had no idea what I wanted or who I was, and they suggested I go to their travel agency. That seemed like a sucky idea, so I decided to start in the general direction of the hostel I had originally made a reservation with to see if they were serious, or maybe something else had happened that would free up my bed. Hey, I was being hopeful. As soon as I figured out that I had no idea where I was going, it started to rain. Just great. I hopped on a mini-bus and asked if they knew where the hostel was. They gladly took me there. I played dumb about the e-mail and asked about my reservation. There was still no room for me. I set off to look for another place to stay. There was a hostel a couple of doors down that had an opening, but it was a bit pricey. After I declined, I fell down their wet, marble stairs. I cut open my hand pretty badly, and I have some nice bruises to match. I started walking and I ran into the travel agency that was partnered with the second hostel I tried to make a reservation with. They didn't have any openings, but they called another hostel for me and drove me there. The hostel, which I am currently at, accepted me with open arms. I am so grateful! It rained for a good amount of time this afternoon, but after it stopped I ventured downtown. Fethiye is a charming city. I am waiting for tomorrow so I can go to Oludeniz (just google it!). I also might venture to Butterfly Valley or even possibly to Kayakoy. I'm catching the night bus back to Istanbul tomorrow.

View from my hostel window


Lycian Sarcophagus in downtown Fethiye

The vegetation here is interesing and beautiful

A cactus with pine trees in the background

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Beach Day!

I have been in Turkey for 6 or maybe 7 weeks (I've lost count!) and I hadn't been to a beach until today. It wasn't the most beautiful beach (that's tomorrow!) but it got the job done. I spent my morning and early afternoon enjoying the Aegean Sea. It was colder than I thought it would be, but extremely refreshing. The sand was so hot that I think I burnt my foot trying to get to the sea.

The beach

Me at the beach

Another beach photo

After the beach I rested for 2-2.5 hrs. Then I went downtown to get some money and buy my bus ticket to Fethiye.

Downtown Selcuk

Cool statue in the middle of the round-about

This is the corner of my hostel, although it's primarily the yellow buildings. You can see the sign on the left of the picture - ANZ Guesthouse

Tonight I am relaxing. Tomorrow morning I am heading to Fethiye for those beautiful Turkish beaches. I will spend one night there and then take another night bus back to Istanbul. Another whirlwind trip, but that's all I can afford for now.

Continuing from yesterday

Baptism Room

You can still see the mosaic tiles!

Nifty Pillar


I didn't want to fall off the ruins. That would've been disastrous!

Castle with ruins in front. Tourists aren't allowed inside the castle (yet...)

More of St. John's ruins

Cistern outside of St. John's

The owners of the hostel that I am staying at also own a carpet store as well as a kebap house. I got an overview of carpet making. I now know how to purchase a genuine and quality carpet. 

Then it was on to the museum!

Interesting statue

Zeus head

Headless statues are always a cool thing to look at

I don't really know what this is besides sculptured stone. But it was BIG.

There are more pics from the museum, but they're not that interesting because I am not "making fun of history" in them. We'll just move on then..

Me at the remains of the Artemis Temple, one of the 7 Wonders of the World!

7 Sleepers

After this last picture my camera died. I went back to the hostel and charged it for an hour. Then I went to Ephesus!

Efes'e Hos Geldiniz!

Let the pictures of rubble commence!



 This is cool because it's fossilized!









Public Latrines


Celsus Library

Sadly the sun was at the worst angle while I was at the Library

At the Amphitheatre



The shops outside of Efes...I couldn't resist!