Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Goodbye Turkey

Our last few days in Turkey we spent just hanging out with family. There was lots of this...

And some of this...

And a music jam or two.

We even enjoyed some "friendly" competitions. We bowled a few times.

Spencer got a turkey in Turkey!

We bowled an "opposite hand" game, and I
bowled 132 with my LEFT hand!

And enjoyed the outdoor mini golf course.

And on our very last day we visited the Sabancı Merkez Camii, or the Adana Mosque.

It's huge. The largest mosque in Turkey, and one of the 5 largest in the world.

And it's beautiful. The perfect way to end our trip. Our trip to Turkey was amazing. It gave me a good preview of what China might be a little like, and it opened my eyes to how some people on the other side of the world live. It filled me with an immense feeling of gratitude for the blessing I have of living in the USA and also helped me see the beauty of other cultures and other histories. I am so grateful for the chance to spend more time with Spencer's family and that I was able to get to know them better, and for all the great times we had with them. And I am so grateful for a chance to see a corner of the world that I never imagined I would ever get to see.

Turkey is Weird

I thought I would just share some of the interesting, kinda weird, Turkey-ish-isms that I noticed while we were there.

If you are looking for a bathroom, then you need to find the water closet. And make sure you check before you commit, cause sometimes there are no toilets, only squatty potties. And most of the time there is no toilet paper, so make sure  you bring something (like small packets of tissues) to do the job.

Breakfast is very unlike the American concept of the most important meal of the day. It almost always consists of hard-boiled eggs, cut up vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives especially. And yes, I know tomatoes are a fruit), cheese, and some sort of bread. Very different, very healthy, and I actually loved it. Although, I'll be honest, I majorly craved me some syrup-covered French toast with a big side of greasy bacon when I got back.

There are cats EVERYWHERE! I started counting the second day there and stopped counting 7 days later. And in that time I counted over 175 cats, just roaming around the streets. There was even one in the Hagia Sofia, trying to get a fake bake.

The housing. There are very few houses. They are almost all complex buildings. And they are colorful.

I know, blurry picture, but you can see the many colors.

And they have all of their water heaters and satellite dishes on the roof.

And most smaller buildings have these patio things on the roof with grape vines growing over them for shade. Apparently it is quite popular to spend free time hours on the roof in the shade.

And they really struggle with English translation. But really, I was just grateful that most signs even had an English translation.

This symbol is called the Sultan's Signature. And it's everywhere. On jewelry, on buildings, in calligraphy, wherever they can find a place for it.

Apparently this is common in Europe, but seeing as it was my first experience abroad I thought it was weird that the lights turn red, then red and yellow, and then green.

And last, but certainly not least, Turks drive like crazy people. For real. Whenever possible, they drive in the middle of the lanes. There is very little respect for staying in the lines.

And they have a tendency to create extra lanes that didn't exist before. This picture, for instance, is in a roundabout, that is supposed to be only two lanes.

Yep, and there was another car on the other side of us. Five cars in two lanes. No wonder Americans are usually nervous to drive here.

Crazy Turks, you make me laugh. And you are definitely weird, at least to this sheltered American girl.

Belated Easter

Spencer and I spent Easter Sunday in an airport trying to get back to Utah after my sister Michelle's wedding, so Spencer's mom was so sweet and thought it would be fun for everyone to dye eggs and have an Easter Egg hunt together. Let me tell you, dying eggs with all (pretty much) adults is hilarious. So much pondering, so much pre-planning, so much ridiculousness.

I don't know what was happening in that picture, but it's too funny to not post. But it really was fun to design and tease and just be around each other.

And of course, after you dye eggs you have to hunt them. The best part of our hunt? We did it at night. I don't know about you, but I've never had an Easter egg hunt at night (or with all adults), but it was AWESOME.

First we just searched in the dark, and when we thought we had found all that we could...

My loving husband shoving me out of the way to get to an egg first

we put on our headlamps and kept searching.

Six adults, 178 eggs (mostly plastic, for the record), one tiny backyard. It was incredible how well Spencer's dad was able to hide so many eggs in so little space.

Happy belated Easter!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Final Excursion

Our last trip. Sigh.

But it was awesome. Gaziantep. First, we went to the mosaic museum.

Um, this is one of the coolest places ever. The mosaics here are huge and beautiful. And it's amazing how complete they are, especially in comparison to the museum in Antioch.

This is the Gypsy Girl. She is gorgeous. And in comparison to most other mosaics she is very detailed, complex, and ridiculously lifelike. Oh, and her eyes follow you wherever you go. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her...

After the museum was, of course, food! I even tried something new. Cacik, yogurt with cucumbers and mint (or was it dill?). Either way, it was yummy, and helped cool my tongue while I chomped on yummy, spicy Turkish food.

But the real reason most people go to Gaziantep? SHOPPING! There is a great market there, and it was fascinating to see what they had.

Their biggest thing? Metal work. It was everywhere, and it was beautiful.

We got a few things for ourselves,

Spencer's new Aladdin lamp. And that's Ahmet, our bus driver
and awesome bargainer.

And a bunch of gifts to bring back. And actually, a lot of what we bought there will go to China. In Chinese culture you give a LOT of gifts, and we thought that cool stuff from Turkey would make great presents.

And as we left we picked up some baklava. Gaziantep is famous for it, so we couldn't pass it up, right? YUMMY.

Adios Gaziantep, it was real.