Monday, June 18, 2007

Istanbul - What a place!!!

6/18/07 - hey there folks...well, i hit the road tomorrow for the next two months and i am really excited...i start in russia then head to mongolia, china and tibet....should be an amazing trip in oh so many ways :) i am doing the trans-siberian railroad which i have been dying to do...its exciting :) but before i left i wanted to have the blog up-to-date and ready to here is my last travel entry from the year...i got to istanbul, turkey twice in about a month's time and i have to say it was definitely worth it :) they say pictures say a thousand words...and that is definitely true of this many words i just can't repeat too :)

one of the visits was with the watt brothers - greg and dan...greg and i work together at the school in bucharest and dan was visiting brothers around the was fun time...but i definitely in a guy's weekend senario...i am sure you can understand if you have ever hung around brothers or middle school boys....

this is the front entrance of the blue amazing building that is still in use for religious is HUGE....women have to cover their heads out of respect and everyone must remove their shoes....its incredible

this is a shot of the blue mosque's ceiling...i could have stared at it all day is simply beautiful...there were quite a few tourists the both times i was there....and there were also folks saying was such a weird were someplace sacred...yet people were taking pictures and interesting :)

here's the beautiful blue mosque at night....we had such great weather both was a bit chilly at night...due to being right on the sea...but i loved it....

while there with the brothers we saw a sufi dancer...trance spinner in my opinion...this guy was awesome...he could spin and spin...i guess they do it to reach a state of meditation...i was amazed he didn't get dizzy...i sure would :)

i like this shot better because it is all smeary...and not can get the feeling of how he is was interesting to watch because his one foot never left the ground until he was just about around...and his eyes were open but glazed was way cool :)

the shot above is the one from my window from the second place i can see the blue mosque in the distance and you can see a minaret just outside my window...that was wonderful at 5am both mornings when call to prayer occurred...always ask proximity of mosques to where you are staying when in a muslim word of advice :)

the watt's and i smoked a bunch of hookah pipes...or sheesha...whatever you wish...this was the last day and one of the guys who was a waiter at the place we went to most often asked if he could join us...we said sure...he was incredible....soooooooo much smoke...he was a funny guy and very nice....
here's dan putting his shoes back on after being in the blue mosque...don't you love the sign he is in front sitting....hmmmmmmm...its where everyone was...a bit onfusing if you ask me..

one of the greatest things in turkey is the food...especailly the about the size of this piece...yummy...when they cleared our table we asked jokingly if we could have more bread...holy cow!!!
i love this shot of san sophia...and what an extraordinary building that is....wowowowowowow...
it was a beautiful day when i was there with the watts...but the group i went inside with were the teachers i was at a conference with...and its mind blowing inside...although i think this outside shot with the flowers and palm tree might just be my favorite :)

here's the entrance ceiling of san sophia...this building is incredible because it is both christian and muslim and currently is a museum for both it :)

check out the size of this marble urn...not sure if its a christian or muslim piece...i just really liked it and was amazed it was made of marble...can you say heavy :)

i guess san sophia is always under repair...its kind of like a dig, where they keep finding new stuff to look at and you can see the walls and ceiling are having work done to them...but can you see the size of the two arabic signs...there are people in the space between them...and they are hanging in the air on the walls of the building....amazing!!!!!

here's one of the christian aspects of the building...i just love it...and its all mosaic...just incredible...they found this under some paint...and there are quite a few of them...just stunning :)
istanbul is definitely known for its it has the grand bazaar, which you will see pictures of soon...this was the ceiling of a cool hotel we stopped and visited...the man who owns it knows many of the teachers at AISB!

this is me and another teacher from romania...emanuel....he is romanian, but teaches french...he is quite incredible with languages and is a huge soccer fan and coach...he tells me when he was little he lived only for soccer...we had fun hanging in turkey....

now you are in the grand bazaar...and every where you turn you see the blue eye...which is used to ward off evil...and bring good luck...they are everywhere in turkey....and all over the bazaar

ceramics are also all over the bazaar...i love these little much so that i bought a bunch of them...they are great for holding change or candy or spices of whatever...and aren't they colorful...i think they are very cool :)

can you tell i loved the bazaar and the displays people had...these lamps were also all over the place...most of the time they didn't care of you took a picture...but they would complain that wouldn't pay the bills the end i did buy some stuff...but i didn't go crazy :)

here are some more of the ceramics...they are just so colorful and everywhere...i think they make for quite a good picture...the bazaar was very charming and not so hassel oriented as the khan in it was a pleasure to go there...the second trip we also went to the spice bazaar...but unfortunately i deleted all of the pictures from that visit...oh well..means i'll have to go back again :)

this shot is sunset over the marmora sea from my first visit with all of the teachers...we were actually staying out on the sea...which was a bit of a bummer...but i got a great sunset out of it...which makes up for some of it :)

i had to make the last shot one of me with tea and a was pretty much the focus of the trip with the watt's...but i am wearing my newly purchased hat from the bazaar so there are other apects to my picture that i like....turkey...get there...its just incredible....and i can't wait to return... i stated at the beginning of this entry...i am hitting the road for the next seven or so weeks...i will try and update my blog...but no promises....i hope you enjoyed this entry and that you all have a great summer...i'll be in touch :) peace out....

Monday, June 11, 2007

April in Italy

6/11/07 - hey there the moment this is just pictures...i will write captions soon...but felt the need to at least get the pictures on here...i have four days left of school and life is crazy...and then i am off for the summer...literally eight weeks...should be a blast...will be back soon and thanks for checking this out :)
i'm back....see below for the captions :) hope you enjoy the trip to italy...i sure did :)

okay...finally getting the chance to put in some captions...the first shot above was our first day in italy on the very edge of the amalfi coast, south of naples...this town was salerno...we stopped there for lunch and it was mom and dad had been in italy for three weeks before i got there and my mom's italian was coming along well...but not my dad's...we took a walk along the waterfront was a quaint town...but rather large and was time to hit the road...

ravello, along the amalfi coast...well, okay, a little in-land, was our first place to stay and what a cute town...cobbled stone streets, tiny roads, beautiful views of the water and teraaced hills...the town was adorable and we walked around it for a night and most of the next morning...

this region in italy is known for pottery...i loved the huge, colorful dishes in most of the shops...and the shop keepers were mellow and not just hip on your business...

the town was a typical quaint italian town with a town square, big catholic church and alleyways everywhere you looked...i caught a priest on his way to work in the morning in ravello..i just love this dad thought i was crazy for taking it :)

we are still wandering in ravello here...leaving this amazing english mansion that is out on a point, that has amazing gardens and statues and such...and then when you walk back into town you see views like this one of the town itself...lots of steps...its a great place to walk :)

here is my dad by the statues on the english mansion you can see behind him, there is nothing blocking the view of the sea from this veranda...just a lovely shot...and even though it was foggy, we still had a great view :)

ravello is also situated in the hills of the amalfi coast where they have tons and tons of lemon groves...the trees were everywhere you looked and check out the size of this lemon in my mom's hand...this region of italy is where the best lemoncello is made...believe me...we had some...yummy!!!!

from ravello we hit between the two spots we drove along the twisty and turny amalfi was fun!!!! and there were incredible views along the entire roadway....we went to sorrento the night after ravello...another seaside town...and the shot above is the view from my room...spectacular...out the window you could hear the boats headed to capri, which is the island just off of the amalfi coast where the rich play...more on that soon....

i had to take this shot in sorrento...for those of you who have never been there, italy is the land of the motor scooter...the traffic is incredible, so most italians try to bypass it by riding on scooters...they are everywhere and most of the drivers are INSANE!!!! and huge risk-takers...its incredible there are not more accidents....sorrento is also the land of amazing pizza...i had some of the greatest pizza i ever had in my life while there....wowowowowow!!!!

we spent a day on the island of capri...and it was beautiful...although quite expensive...its the land of the rich and the picture above, the house closest to the water on the part that juts out is the official ferrari house...yes, the racing team and car dealer's place...can you say what a view :)

my dad and i took a ski lift to the highest point on the island...and it was awesome!!!!! the views at the top were simply spectacular and the guy in charge of the lift was quite scary at the bottom...we had some high schoolers in front of us from the states, and he warned them (and us) severely not to rock the chairs or they would fall off the's my dad in his much to look at both in the air and on the ground :)

here's a shot from the ferry as we were leaving capri...can you say crowded island??? when we got there it was a very cloudy day so we didn't bother with the blue grotto...which is a water cave that glows blue when the sun is out on the outside of it...i'll have to go back and check it out some day that it is sunny....i have been told its stunning :)

the crazy hotel above was in the middle of nowhere...and it was very nice...we were trying to find a place close to pompeii, but were having a hard time finding the we ended up in this very swanky place...but we didn't stay here for dinner...way expensive...we went to this empty restuarant down the street around 8pm...and asked if they were open...they laughed and told us a party was soon starting...we didn't believe them...and then at 10pm a birthday fiesta started up for a man who was turning was a crazy night....

the shot above was taken in naples...and looking at it, it makes naples really pretty...unfortunately its not this pretty in any way, shape or much graffiti on all of the older buildings and crowded, and tons and tons of traffic...i have actually never seen such bad traffic...even in!!! this was a HUGE church that was beautiful inside, but written on all over the place outside...that's why i took the picture from so far away....

here's another shot of was a cool art gallery building that had a cafe or two under the glass was also a walkway for many as a shortcut...interesting building...

i tried to take a shot of a very crowded and small street in naples...and even this looks pretty good...isn't weird how when you look down the street it looks like the buildings get closer to each other...i love the optical cool...naples...yeah...i don't need to go back there!

the next bunch of pictures are from pompeii and herculaneum....what incredible's weird to think they just stopped in time...and they were immense cities...time just froze due to a volcanic eruption...and i do have to say, they were quite advanced for their time...the sewers were in the ground and was a beautiful city i imagine...based on the incredible mosaics and street layout....

this is a cast of one of the folks who perished in the eruption of vesuvius...these no longer have any parts of humans in them...but due to where they were in destruction, the person's form is perfectly preserved....mind-blowing if you ask me....

this is one of the many mosaics in was some amount of work to make these and they were in all of the rich people's houses...just stunning...this one in paticular reminded me of a game i used to play in middle school...q-bert...doncha think :)
this is my dad standing next to one of the grinders of flour for the bakery...there were three of these and they were located next to the ovens where bread and such was baked on a daily basis...isn't incredible to visit places like this...the history is so overwhelming in my much to learn and realize that entire populations have vanished from the face of the earth!!!

the shot above is one the rich houses in you can see there are still colors on the walls and you can sort of make out a theater setting....even after it was covered in ash and dust you can still see the color and the idea....wowowowowow!!!!

this is my dad and i on the way out....pompeii was huge and incredible and so very interesting...the one thing we didn't love were the crowds, but we kept thinking about how crowded the place would be in the summer and were so glad we were there in timing :)

the ruins above are from herculaeum....also from an eruption of should have seen us try and ask the bartender where herculaeum was...they don't pronounce "H" in italian....hahahahaha...he couldn't figure out what the heck we were talking about...even though he was born and raised in pompeii...10 minutes away from this ruin!!!! hahahahahaha...i liked this place better in some ways than wasn't as was smaller and more doable and you were allowed in many more of the buildings.....
in both sets of ruins...i loved the mosaic floors...especially the patterned the one above...they were stunning and must have taken so much time and effort to make...

this is an interior of one of the religious areas of herculaeum...the wall before you get to the windows is actually made from wood and metal...the wood survived the eruption and is now covered in glass....just incredible if you think about it!!!!

here's another shrine to another god and goddess in someone's house...i want to say its for aphrodite and apollo, but i could be wrong...the colors of the this mosaic are noticeable...i loved it!!!!

the last shot of this update is me and my parents as i was getting ready to walk over the airport and head back to romania...we had a blast together and laughed a lot...they spent a total of a month in italy....all over the place...and i am really happy i got to join them for a week of that time....we all highly recommend the almalfi coast...although you need to rent a car for it...its much nicer to do it at your own sure to have a pizza or two along the way...and taste the lemoncello....wowowowow...more soon...turkey will be the next update i do this week before i hit the road next tuesday (june 19th!)....peace out