Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


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Exploring Istanbul | Part Two

On the meeting point of two worlds, the ornament of Turkish homeland, the treasure of Turkish history, the city cherished by the Turkish nation, Istanbul, has its place in the hearts of all citizens. –Atatürk

Walking the streets of IstanbulAwesome reflection of the Blue MosqueGerman Fountain, Hagia Sophia, and part of the Blue Mosque complex

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Exploring Istanbul | Part One

*Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, relax, and settle in…this is a long one!*

I know I have been putting up a lot of travel posts recently (ahem…5 on Vienna alone!), but with the absolutely amazing travels I’ve been blessed with the past few months…I can’t help it! Because Istanbul is so fresh in my mind, I am going to tackle it first and then finally get around to posting about our AMAZING cruise a few months ago (where does the time go?!). Vince and I don’t have anything major planned for the next few months, just a few trips here and there in Bulgaria (and possibly a weekend trip to Greece if we can afford it), so expect more varied posts coming up.

Alrighty…Let’s talk Istanbul!

Blue Mosque
Istanbul is a surprising city. It’s likely not what most people would expect. While it is heavily influenced by the Muslim faith; everyone seems to live in relative harmony, no matter their religious beliefs. Simply standing in one spot and thinking about all the world changing events that occurred there is, at times, overwhelming. Istanbul is right up there with Rome and Athens when it comes to sheer historical significance. The city itself is sparkling clean (in most areas) and seems to be very safe. I don’t know why these two things surprised me, but they did. It does still have that gritty feel that huge cities inevitably take on over time–and that makes it even more appealing and interesting. The juxtaposition of old (we’re talking ancient, here!) and new is nearly seamless. Based on the look and feel of Istanbul alone, it is hard to believe that Turkey is not yet a member of the EU. I hate to admit it, but in many respects it seems to deserve membership more than Bulgaria. The differences in the border facilities alone are staggering. One definitely knows when they have crossed over from run-down, litter-strewn Bulgaria into shining new and tidy Turkey.

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Wordless{ish} Wednesday: Quirky Turkey

**Linky Below** Mannequins outside a restaurantFalse storefrontsEvil Eye planterA turkey in Turkey!Istanbul's famous Pudding Shop

The Lale Restaurant (or Pudding Shop, as it’s more commonly called) is a located in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul.

Wikipedia has this to say, “It became popular in the 1960s as a meeting place for hippies and other travelers on overland route between Europe and India, Nepal, and elsewhere in Asia – the ‘hippie trail’. The restaurant got its colloquial name as a result of “word-of mouth” from numerous foreign travelers that could not remember the name of the eatery but did remember the wide and popular selection of puddings sold there and thus referred to it as the ‘pudding shop’.” The restaurant featured in the book and movie Midnight Express (NOT a movie to watch right before venturing to Turkey!).

A big part of me wishes I had hung out here and then started my own journey to Asia!

(I’ll have proper Istanbul posts up this week, but for now you can check out some photos of my trip on Flickr.)

Happy Wednesday!

xo

W.

Please comment and link up your own WW post below!

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Wordless Wednesday: Sea, Sunsets, and Seagulls in Istanbul

*Linky Below!*

Bridge over the BosphorusOut on the BosphorusView of the sea from our hotel in IstanbulRetro-fied seagullsSunrays and shipsGorgeous sunset over Sea of Marmara--Istanbul, Turkey

I’m happy to be back for another WW!

More posts on Istanbul in the coming days. It’s taking awhile to sort through all my photos!

Please link up your own post below and I will be sure to swing by and check it out!

(I’m also linking up over on Weekly Top Shot)

W.

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Home from Istanbul

Sultanahmet Square

Hello there!

I’m home from five lovely days and four hot nights (our hotel room was positively sweltering) in Istanbul. My friend and I took a night bus there and back from Bulgaria and it was interesting to say the least!
Whirling DervishView of the Blue Mosque from our hotelBasilica Cisterns

It was an incredible trip and I can’t wait to share more about it with you all.

For now, however, a few snapshots will have to do. My friend is only in Bulgaria for a few more days and we have a lot of ground to cover!

Gorgeous sunset over the Sea of MarmaraInterior of Hagia SophiaRays of Sun at Hagia Sophia

Hope you are having a fantastic weekend!

Talk to you soon!

W.

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Fun Times Ahead

Whew! It feels like my mom just left and we already have another guest arriving from the states!

K, my friend/boss (and fellow Utah girl) flies into Sofia tomorrow afternoon. We’ve got some fun things planned for her 2-week visit.

On Saturday Vince, K, and myself are heading down to spend the night in Plovdiv. A group of about 20 Denali peeps are getting together for food, drinks, and good company. I am sure the horo will be danced at some point as well; most likely post-drinks! I haven’t seen everyone since leaving Alaska at the end of September, so it should be a good time.

Then Sunday Vince will head back to Sofia while K. and I catch a night bus (slightly scary prospect) to Istanbul. We’re meeting another friend in the city for 4 days of adventures, including consuming a ridiculous amount of baklava and Turkish coffee! I’ve been to Istanbul before but only for a day on our first Med. cruise. It was actually one of the biggest surprises of the trip; completely different than I had envisioned. And the Grand Bazaar? I am still trying to wrap my mind around it!

I am really excited to be able to see some things I missed last time around; such as the cisterns, spice market, and maybe even a whirling dervish show!

After that it’s exploring Sofia and maybe a weekend trip to Rila or Koprivshtitsa (if we can talk Vince into being our chauffeur!).

It’ll probably be a little quiet around these parts for the next few weeks as I play hostess, but I’ll be back soon enough!

W.

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Fall/Winter Travel Plans

I simply cannot go a day without dreaming of my next travel adventure. It’s in my blood, I tell you!

Thankfully, After months of planning, Vince and my travel plans for this fall & winter are finally starting to come together. As if living and exploring in Bulgaria isn’t enough, we have to throw some international jaunts into the mix to keep things interesting. It’s one of the many joys of living in Europe.

First up is our long-awaited honeymoon…

Mediterranean Cruise

Less than 3 weeks from now, Ventsi and I will be bound for Rome. We are flying in a few days before our departure on the Crown Princess. We’ve been to Rome before as part of our last cruise, but we only had a day in port and we were definitely rushed. This time around we plan on savoring the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Eternal City. So far the only thing we have firmly planned is the Vatican’s tour of St. Peter’s Tomb–called the Scavi tour. On this amazing tour we will be led 3 stories directly beneath St. Peter’s Basilica to the reported resting place of St. Peter. We’ll be able to see and touch (and smell!) the actual foundations for the first church built on that spot. WOW! We were insanely luck to score tickets as they limit visitors to about 150 per day. Most people book months in advance, but I emailed the Vatican for S & Gs and they had 2 openings! I’m a history geek, so this rocks my socks. We didn’t get to see the Sistine Chapel last time, so we are definitely hitting up the Vatican Museums as well. We may try to find The Mouth of Truth–Roman Holiday fans will know why I want to go there!

We’ve been to many of the ports on our cruise (only Santorini, Olympia, Corfu, and Dubrovnik are new), so we mostly plan on hoofing it around the cities taking photos and generally enjoying the everyday scenery rather than booking full blown tours. We are, however, splurging for an excursion out of Naples. We didn’t particularly care for Naples the last time we visited; it’s not the safest place in the world. So rather than stay on the ship and lose out on seeing more of amazing Italy, we sucked it up and booked an excursion through Princess. Our 10-hour tour takes us to Pompeii for a guided tour; Sorrento for lunch and free time; and finally, to the isle of Capri via hydrofoil for a few hours of sun, sand, and sea.

We are pretty darn excited to finally be celebrating not only our honeymoon but our 1st anniversary as well. 2 weeks in the Med? Perfection!

Next up, a holiday getaway…

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