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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Wordless{ish} Wednesday: The Sleepy Residents of Ephesus

*LINKY Below*

Recently my husband and I visited the amazing ruins of Ephesus, Turkey.

The site itself was enough to keep my interested for the better part of a day; however, it was the current inhabitants that I truly got a kick out of.

Everywhere you looked there was a cat sleeping on a column or sunning itself on an ancient mosaic floor.

They are clearly strays but they don’t seem to mind; they call ancient ruins their home and sleep all day…what a life!

Catching some zzzz'sFinding some shadeUtterly relaxedDon't mind meEnjoying the sunKing of the column

The throngs of tourists didn’t phase them one bit.

They were clearly too relaxed to be bothered!

W.

*For more kitty goodness, check out my recent post on the cat’s taking over Rome!

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Update from the Mediterranean

Greetings from Kusadasi, Turkey!

I had hoped to check in a few times by now, but we’ve just been having way too much fun to bother finding a wifi connection.

We are having the best time on the ship just eating, relaxing, and waking up everyday in a new location.

Cruising certainly has its perks!

A quick recap through today:

-Our 2 days in Rome were great. We saw almost everything we wanted to see and our Scavi tour at the Vatican was incredible.

-At our first port of Naples we took an excursion through the ship to Pompeii, Sorrento, and Capri. It was a long 10-hour day but the tour was well worth it. Capri is breathtaking.

-After leaving Naples we had 2 days at sea en route to Santorini. We spent the days lounging by the pool reading (me) and swimming (the hubs). The weather has been great–mid to low 60’s and sunny skies nearly the entire time.

-Yesterday the ship dropped anchor in the bay near Santorini. We took a cable car up to the town of Fira. From there we took a bus ride to the town of Oia. When you picture quintessential postcard Greece with the whitewashed houses and blue-dome churches, that is Oia. It was truly one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been. My camera card is nearly full now after an afternoon spent on Santorini.

-Now we are in Kusadasi, Turkey. The main attraction nearby are the ruins at Ephesus. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan very well and we probably won’t be able to get out to the ruins. We should have booked an excursion through the ship…oh well! It’s about a 14-hour drive from Sofia, so Vince promised we would take a road trip one of these days down to Turkey and make a stop in Ephesus.

We’re off to Mykonos tomorrow.

Hope all my American family/friends/readers had a great Thanksgiving!

Talk to you all soon!

W.