Thursday, July 26, 2007

The End of the Road

Berlin was lovely, barring burning myself. It was a chance to catch up with Nicole and to see a foreign city through a (near) native's eyes. But we also took in the usual tourist attractions: Museum Island, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag. After Berlin, we spent a little over a week with Elliott's relatives in Obernau, in the Windeck region of Germany. It is absolutely gorgeous countryside, the German equivalent of the Lake District in England. And Elliott's family was really fantastic, as well as their pets, from the shaggy-haired black dog to the Maine Coon cat (the most awesome cat ever, omg) to the half-bald, pot-bellied pig. Our time in Obernau was very relaxing and uh, filling, as we were fed absurd amounts of food and with alarming frequency. And then it was Obernau to Frankfurt to Chicago to San Francisco to Mountain View.

Hearing American English regularly took some getting used to at first; it's almost like deciphering a foreign language. It's hard to believe that we spent the last six weeks in Europe, in four different countries, moving from hotel to hostel to sobe, always on a plane or a fast train. I wish that I could stop for a long, long while, but tomorrow morning, we're driving down to Las Vegas to see my parents. Maybe I'll take a breather when I start law school, eh? :)

Here are some pictures from Turkey and Berlin.

Whirling dervish by the Blue Mosque.

Pride Parade down Istiklal Caddesi.

Our Bosphorous cruise, on which we saw dolphins/porpoises!

Elliott and Sun at Ethnicon in the Grand Bazaar, where Elliott bought a lovely teppich.

Nicole und ich at a cafe in Berlin.

Wet and rainy in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

Mmmmmm... wine warms me up.

Inside the glass dome of the Reichstag.

Walking on the Shalechet exhibit at the Jewish Museum.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Turkey Hates Me - Misadventures in Turkey and Germany

I think that I must have done something to offend Kemal Mustafa in a past life. You know how some people get the Revenge of Montezuma when they travel? Well, I got the Revenge of Atatürk when I was in Turkey, for like, two weeks, reducing me to pre-packaged food and Starbucks. Yum. As my friend Nicole put it, 'You like Turkish food, but Turkish food doesn't like you.' Not only did I have, um, tummy problems, but I was also shat on by a bird in Tophane. And two days ago, on Friday the 13th, I was dealt the coup de grace. While enjoying a nice smoke at shisa bar in Kreuzberg, I managed to knock over the pipe and dump a good portion of the coal onto my chest, which resulted in burns from my breasts down to my stomach. After spending pretty much the entire day at the hospital yesterday, it was determined that I have second and third degree burns on my left breast. A third degree burn (don't Google, the pictures are pretty disgusting) is a burn that goes through all layers of skin, down to the muscle or bone, and it doesn't hurt because you lose all the nerve cells there. In German, die Sensitivität ist nicht intakt. Luckily, mine is only half an inch wide, but it will probably take 2 to 3 weeks to heal. So no more nude beaches for me, at least for a while.

You win, Mustafa. You win.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Book Update

Stolen from Elliott, started and finished in Istanbul: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

A quick pop science read. Nothing groundbreaking. Although it's fun that Elliott knows some of the researchers mentioned in the book.

Started in Istanbul, finished in Istanbul: Queen of Babble, Size 12 Is Not Fat, Size 14 Is Not Fat Either, all by Meg Cabot

These were really fun, fast reads, and the last two books are actually about more than retail therapy and finding a boyfriend/husband.

Currently reading: A collection of short stories called Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules, compiled by David Sedaris

The David Sedaris totally sold me on the book, and it's given me an opportunity to read some authors that I've been meaning to get around for a while, like Alice Munro and Joyce Carol Oates, a.k.a., depressing Canadians.

Completely abandoned and finally sold to a used bookstore in Berlin: Pamuk's The Black Book.

Photo Catchup - Croatia and Istanbul

Zagreb really showed off during the day and a half that we were there.

Sunlight church after the clouds parted.

And a rainbow.

Some pictures of Istanbul from our first couple of days in Sultanahmet.

One of the Medusa heads in the Basilica Cistern.

Your standard picture of the Blue Mosque.

Beautiful inside, but a distinct odor of feet.

The view of the Sea of Marmara from Topkapi Palace.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ich bin ein Berliner. Nicht.

It's nearing the end of our third day in Berlin, and we've already done so much. Nicole has been wonderful in taking us around both the touristy sites (walking along Unter den Linden, the Brandenburg Gate, etc.) and watering and feeding us at really cool bars in Prenzlauer Berg. Last night, we went to a place called the Weinarie (I think), where you can get unlimited glasses of wine and food (we had chili) and then just pay however much you want as you leave. It's the most brilliant thing ever.

Today was more of a touristy day, as we went to Museum Island, and hit three museums in a row. Other than the National Gallery (where the paternalist, fascist security personnel made us so unwelcome that we left after only 15 minutes), they were all pretty good. Nothing so overwhelming as the Archaelogical Museum in Istanbul had been, and Nefertiti is really quite lovely. The only thing is that I kept thinking as I was looking the statues that the Germans 'rescued' from Egypt and Greece and the Middle East, that it's all just so much glorified grave-robbing. And the thing is, unlike say the Met in New York or even the British Museum in London, the Germans seem to have no shame at all about this fact. The Gate of Ishtar that they're so proud of? I had seen those same glazed lions in Turkey, without knowing that the Germans had apparently taken the more spectacular pieces.

Anyway, we're going to end our supremely touristy day by watching the new Harry Potter at the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz.

Will try to upload pictures later. Tschüss.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Another day, another Turkish breakfast

I feel much better today, much less belligerent. After being woken up from my nap yesterday afternoon, I was ready to start picking fights on Istiklal Caddesi, which would probably wind up with Elliott getting beat up.

Anyhow, today's plan was to visit the Istanbul Modern, but since that's closed, we've decided to lounge around in cafes all day and write you all postcards.

While you wait with bated breath (I'm sure) for my missives from Turkey, here are some of our pictures from Croatia:

Dubrovnik, Croatia

View from the city walls, taken by Elliott, after I quit the exhaustive climb halfway through.

Renaissance faire in Croatia!

The clear waters off of Hvar.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


In İstanbul at the moment. A little tired and sweaty, but otherwise okay. We moved from our hotel in Sultanahmet to a hostel in Beyoğlu today, I´m still recovering from the lack of towels and a working faucet thing. So pictures later, when I feel better.

Highlight of the day - A small gay pride gathering that marched up İstikal Caddesi. That was pretty cool.