Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Day 6 - Troy and Bergama

I got up early this morning and took a tour of Troy that was exceptionally nice, considering I have sworn off tours for the rest of the trip. Our guide had been giving h=this tour for 30 years, and has even written a book about Troy. It wasn't that much to look at, but it's still cool to say I've been there now.

From there, I went back to Canukkale and took another bus to Bergama (aka Pergamum). I'm staying in the quaintest litte pension. It's an old (160 years OLD) Ottoman house with a charming courtyard and a rooftop deck that is only accessable by a very rickety ladder. From the top you can see the ruins of the ancient city's Acropolis on top of the hill that overlooks the "modern" Bergama. Most of the town is still in the old Ottoman fashion, albeit somewhat crumbling, and it is absolutely adorable. I damn near gave this place a miss, and I am so glad I didn't. Anyway, in the entry way to the house is a birds' nest that houses six baby birds that just learned to fly. They entertain themselves by zooming around the courtyard in a tight spiral around each other. The place is owned by a mother and son, he speaks perfect English, while she speaks almost none. She is the epitome of an old Turkish woman, down to the headscarf, round face, and toothless but genuinly warm smile. He is a bigger techie geek than I am. He's got this place set-up for wireless internet access, and even has a laptop for guests to use while sitting on their favorite balcony.

I took a little stroll around town this evening, and came across the ruins of an old basilica that I don't know much about yet. I'm going to go check it out tomorrow. Aydin (the son) says that it is one of seven churches mentioned in the bible. Just the size of the thing is impressive, I can't wait to figure out the history of it. Anyway, must go to bed now, as I have a 5k hike up the side of a steep hill to get to the ruins tomorrow. Ciao for now!

Days 4 and 5 - Istanbul and Canukkale

(Again, copied from journal)

Sunday night went out to diner with Enver and to the top of a cool hotel to check out the view over a glass of wine. We met a really interesting Kiwi guy who was an earthquake engineer - works all over the world helping governments install warning systems. He said if an earthquake ever hit Istanbul (and it's only a matter of time) that the casualties would be astronomical. Not a very good sign, considering there are between 12-18 million people in the city. Yikes!

Got up Monday morning and took a stroll through the Grand Bazaar/ My GOD I have never seen anything like that in my entire life. It literally encompases what seems like miles and miles of space - stall after stall after stall of jewelry, carpets, inlaid woodn chotchkies, ceramics, clothes, you name it - it's there/ It's is truly mind boggling. I was looking at a particular bracelet at one stall and when it didn't fit, I was quickly ushered deeper into the mayhem to another stall, and when nothing in that stall suited my fancy either, the chase was on again. I was finally able to make my escape, but at that point I was hopelessly lost in the rat maze. I felt like I was walking around in circles, but there was really no way to tell as all the stalls start to look the same. I suddenly understood the logic of bread crumbs. An hour and a half of wandering did finally get me back to the entrance where I had come in and back to alovely pair of chandelier earrings tht I just couldn't walk away from. After a bit of bargaining, they were dangling prettily from my lobes.

From there, I sprinted down the crowded side streets (I don't know how, or for that matter WHY, they get cars down those streets) to Eminonu to catch a ferry up the Bosphorous for the second time - this time in daylight though. I was Shanghai'd by a private tour operator who tried to get me on the boat for 20 lira (about $15). I lauged at him and told him I could get on the normal ferry for 7 lira and it was a longer trip. He caved and let me on the boat (which was much nicer than the normal ferry) for 10. Hey, I think I'm getting the hang of this bargaining business. It was a lovely two hours spent reading and wishing I owned one of the big fat fancy houses (or summer palaces) along the channel. Afterwards, I treated myself to an incredible (albeit expensive) seafood lunch by the water. I didn't even get freaked out about having to debone and dehead the fish myself. Proud of me for that.

Tuesday I got up and got on a shuttle bus to the bus station so I could head off to Canukkale (nearest place to Troy). The shuttle bus driver was insane, but in a good sort of way. He had a heavy mustache and about 5 teeth, and was sweating so badly the whole way to the station that I honestly thought he might drown. Even so, he insisted on playing house music and guessing what language they were singing in, all while waving his arms and bopping in his seat like a teenager, reaching over occasionally to slap my thigh and laugh out loud. Completely nutso/ However, if it hadn't been from him, I would have never caught my bus. As we were nearing the station, he pointed out the window to the left at an anthill crawling with giant ants that turned out to be busses... the biggest bus station I have ever seen. 5 levels of spiraling ramps, entrances, exits, buildings and thousands of buses. It was a city all in itself. Incredible.

The bus to Canakkale was one of the nicest I've ever been on - comfy seats, tea and cake service, and air conditioned. I sat next to a young Turkish girl who just finished University and is off to Canada at the end of the summer for an intensive English course. She offered up her home if I wasn't satisfied with the hostel. The kindness and genrousity of the Turkish people continues to amaze me. I didn't take her up on her offer, but was impressed by it anyway.

So last night I experienced my first Turkish bath. I say my first, because it definitely won't be my last. Awesome!! I figured it would be a nice relaxing way to spend an evening, and I was so right. First they showed me into a room where you undress and wrap yourself in something like a sarong, but much much smaller. Then I was led into a cavernous steam room. The marble floors and benches were even warm. As the sweat started to pour off of me, so did all the tension in every part of my body. They left me in there until exactly the point where I didn't think I could take much more, then led me into a smaller room with little cubicles, each with their own marble benches and basins with running hot water. Then the real fun began. First the bathr strips down to her bra and underwear (not a pretty sight, as she was about 60 and rather doughy), then stripped me down to nada as she whipped my covering from me and whipped it around an overhead bar in one deft motion. Then she motioned for me to sit on the little step while she poured soothing warm water over me from the little basin and began to lather up my hair with soap. After an intense scalp massage, I was rinsed again. Then came the best, and grossest, part - exfoliation. She put this special mit over one hand, held onto the wall with the other and went to town. SCRUB SCRUB SCRUB. Layer after layer of dead skin came rolling off and dropped to the floor - I felt like she might actually scrub a limb completely off, but it felt soooo good. And these women are not shy, they scrub everything. I don't think I've actually scrubbed myself in some of those places before. After another good rinsing it was time to lay on the floor for a soapy deep-tissue massage. That woman had incredibly strong hands. By the time she was finished I felt smooth as glass and limp as a noodle. You know, I think the last time someone actually bathed me, I was about 6 years old. I would highly recommend it to anyone. There is really nothing like it. Afterward, she wrapped me back in my sarong thingy, wrapped my head in a funky turban and led me to a seating area for some tea. Now that was a perfect evening. I topped it off with a bowl of homemade lentil soup and an ice cold Efes and was a completely happy girl.

Day 3 - Istanbul

(This is copied straight out of my journal for June 26th)

I think my feet are going to fall off. Seriously. I can take no more walking.. need a few days on the beach. Immediately. Right now I'm sitting in a small cafe in the atrium between twobuildings enjoying a glass of red wine and letting my barking dogs have a rest. TOday I've been to the Archaelogical Museum, Dolmabace Palace (unbelievably opulent - saw world's biggest Baccarat crystal chandelier... oooooh), Taksim Square and walked down Istiklal Caddesi. Imagine 3rd Street Promanade in Santa Monica mixed with the architecture of Gran Via in Madrid and multiply the number of people in both places by about 100 and you've got Istiklal Caddesi - a mecca of cool shops, cafes and bars. Oh, add into that mix a 1960's San Fran style cable car that travels up and down the boulevard. The place just throbs with life. It's moments like that that I wish I had a traveling companion because it would have just been too cool to sit in one of the cafes above street level smoking flavored tobacco from a shisha, playing backgammon, and people watching. This is such an amazing city.

Tomorrow is going to be a shopping day - sort of. I want to see the Grand Bazaar, but not buy anything yet so I don't have to carry it around with me. I'll probably head out tomorrow. It's time to relax for a bit. Sevi keeps offering to "help me" plan the rest of my trip, but as he is Mr. Travel Agent, I really think he's just trying to sell me stuff. I don't want to be tied to anyone's schedule right now. Oh I cannot wait to get out of tourist central and chillllll.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Day 2 - Istanbul

Ok, so I was actıng lıke a 12 year old, but I sure dıdn't feel lıke ıt when I got up the next day... at noon. So feedıng off my need for a more ınformatıon about the mosques, I decıded to take a half day tour of the Suleymane Mosque (the largest one ın Istanbul) and the Topkapı Palace. What a waste of money. The tourguıde saved me 1/2 an hour of standıng ın lıne for tıckets and dıdn't add anythıng to the tour that wasn't already posted on the plaques on the walls. Oh well, lesson learned, no more guıded tours. RIP OFF. However, ıt was stıll really cool to see the Sultan's palace and the 86 carat dıamond housed there. WOW. I made a mad dash after the tour about 5pm to get my fıll of a guılty pleasure (and hangover helper) - Mc Donald's. Yeah, I know. A cıty full of fantastıc turkısh food, and I go to Mc Donald's. It won't happen agaın.

As I left McDonald's I heard a "psst-pssssssst." I just managed to turn my head enough to shoot the culprıt a dırty look only to fınd one of the coaster-throwıng crew from the nıght before sıttıng out ın front of hıs shop havıng tea. I sat down and joıned hım and some frıends for a chat and they sent me off to fınd a lıttle mosque (Rümen Paşa) that they swore was the most beautıful one ın all of Istanbul. It was tucked down among the stalls ın the spıce market, and I had no choıce but to take a wander through ın order to fınd ıt. The smells comıng from that place were out of thıs world - cınamon and peppers and vanılla and I don't know what... but ıt was wonderful! Aısle after aısle of bıg burlap bags full of thıngs that I'd never heard of - green powders, red powders, yellow powders, seeds and herbs and teas and *sıgh* awesome. And somewhere at the end of an aısle a small set of worn and crooked marble staırs led ınto the darkness. That was my stop. I took off my shoes and stepped ınsıde and was ımmedıately blown away. The ınsıde of thıs mosque was completely covered ın hand paınted tıles from floor to ceılıng. Absolutely stunnıng. As I was the only one there, I sat down on the floor (after takıng a few photos) and just lıstened. Even though ıt was ınfınıtely smaller, the same sense of vastness and peace fılled the buıldıng. A few other tourısts eventually found theır way through the market and wandered ın. I took that as my cue to move on.

I went back to Halıl's shop to thank hım for the hınt and we wound up sıttıng ın a lıttle tea house for the next two hours where I was gıven a serıous lesson ın how poorly I actually play backgammon. Out of 14 games I won one. ONE. All those hours playıng agaınst my computer dıd me no good. Nor dıd the hours the magnıfıcent Mr. M and I spent playıng. I got schooled. Oh well. Guess that means I need to practıce.

That nıght Şhevı, Enver, Krısten, Dasıa (the folks from the other hostel) took a nıght cruıse on the Bosphorus to watch the fıreworks over the brıdge and to see all the Sultan's summer palaces along the water all lıt up. The fırst half of the cruıse went up the European sıde and we returned vıa the Asıan sıde. I've offıcıally been on two dıfferent contınents ın the space of an hour. Not bad.

Day 1 - Istanbul

I should begin by saying that my fears about being lonely on the road have been quickly abated. Whether or not that is a good thing, I still haven't decided. I had at least 20 offers for "private" tours of Istanbul in the first 20 minutes of walking around. Most just don't understand why I am traveling alone. "Why you by yourself? You so pretty. I can heeeeelp you." Yeah. Right. I don't need that kind of help, thanks anyway. I keep trying to think of a better answer than "No, thanks," but somehow I think telling them I'm a lesbian or something might get me in more trouble than just ignoring them.

(I should also say that I am having hell with this keyboard, because Turkish has several letters that we don't, and that has shifted some things into some odd places on the keyboard - punctuation isn't where it's supposed to be, and there are strange symbols coming out where letters ought to be. So if this starts to look a little wonky, well.... sorry. Wonky ıs a new word that I have picked up from Captain Canadian. I like it!!)

SO, my flıght got in Thursday afternoon around 5:30 pm. The hostel/hotel manager picked me up at the aırport, and whisked me away through the cıty. We took a road that ran rıght along the shorelıne. Brıghtly colored wooden fıshıng boats bobbed lıke corks ın theır tıght moorıngs whıle rıver cruısers and barges and gıant tankers lıned up ın the dıstance awaıtıng theır turn to pass up the Bosphorous ınto the Black Sea. We passed the ancıent cıty walls (or what's left of them, they are a few hundred years old, after all.) and ınto Sultanahmet, the old part of the cıty, where the streets suddednly truned from broad modern avenues ınto wındy cobbled streets that seemed to make no sense. I got to the hotel around 6:30 pm, checked into the smallest room you have ever seen, and headed up to the roof to watch the sunset over the Marmaras Sea. Ok, I had a couple of hours to kıll before sunset, so I grabbed some beers and a book fırst. Dırectly ın front of the hotel are the ruıns of a very old mosque and another very old mosque that ıs stıll standıng (and quıte beautıful). Growıng out of the top of the mınaret of the ruıned mosque ıs a very tıny lıttle tree, rıght out of the brıcks - a lone survıvor wavıng to the world. And dırectly ın front of that ıs the sea. Nıce. I spent the rest of the evenıng havıng a bbq wıth half the famıly that runs the hotel. Homemade kofte (meatballs), salad, goat cheese, olıves, and of course plenty of rakı.

A lıttle note about Turkısh rakı vs. Kosovo rakı. You can actually drınk the Turkish versıon. Not the slıghtest hınt of jet fuel anywhere. It's a lovely anıse flavored lıquor sımılar to ouzo but wıthout the bıte. And there's an entıre rıtual that goes along wıth drınkıng ıt - none of thıs pour yourself a shot and bottoms up busıness. Fırst you have to set the table properly: the rakı ıs cut wıth equal parts water, a second glass of water, goat cheese, cucumbers, black olıves, salamı, and of course, sweet melon (looks lıke honeydew, tastes lıke canteloupe - YUM). Then ıt's one drınk of rakı, one drınk of water, one bıte of cheese, one bıte of melon, one black olıve. Repeat untıl the bottle ıs gone or you fall out of your chaır - whıchever comes fırst. I sat on the roof wıth Şevı, the owner's nephew (who ıs marrıed to a former Fullbrıghter and lıves ın Oregon most of the year) and hıs frıend Arzu ( a total gem of a gırl who ınvıted me to go watch belly dancıng wıth her and her frıends the next nıght) untıl nearly mıdnıght. I had to call ıt a nıght so I could play super-tourıst all day Frıday. As much as I trıed however, I could get no sleep. My lıttle cubby of a room was on the fırst floor near receptıon, so between the groups of people come ın at all hours from partyıng and the hotel staff chattıng ıt up at the desk, I gave up at 6 am wıth only an hours sleep under my belt. I begged for a room on amother floor, and boy am I glad I dıd. I was moved from my lıttel cubby hole wıth no bathroom to a double room wıth a bath and an ocean vıew (all for a mere $5 a nıght more). So happy!! My week's stay ın Istanbul was stıll under $100.

So after a quıck nap untıl 10 am, I got up and super-tourıst I was!! I hıt the Blue Mosque, the Aya Sofıa, the Basılıca Cısterns (9800 square meters of a 6th century water storage room fed by old roman aqueducts), back alley markets, and a long walk along the sea wall around the outsıde of the Tokapı Palace and then through the gardens and along the Dıvan Yolu untıl my feet hurt so bad I couldn't walk anymore. I would love to descrıbe the feel of the two mosques, but vast, beautıfu, and peaceful just don't quıte convey the rıght feelıngs. If you've ever been alone ın the woods just at dusk before the ınsects have come out to play and the bırds have quıted down before the feast - you know that other creatures (people) are there, but ıt's really easy to forge... you can feel your heart beatıng and hear every breath... that would get you pretty close to the feelıng of steppıng ınto one of these gıants. Not even St. Peter's Basılıca ın Rome had the same feelıng of space and solıtude. Then there's the artwork - the mosaıcs and ıntrıcate desıgns, the handpaınted tıles... I'll post some pıcs as soon as I am able. I never thought I would hear myself say taht I wıshed I had an art hıstory genıus wıth me, but I dıd. I would have loved to hear what all of the dıfferent thıngs sıgnıfıed. I would have even taken Ricardo, our alcoholıc art hıstory professor ın Spaın that treated us all lıke we were kındergarteners, just to get some of the hıstory. (Jess, I can feel you rollıng your eyes at that one - c'mon, you know you mıss hım!)

Sultanahmet ıs crawlıng wıth tourısts, as thıs ıs where many of the maın attractıons are, and you can hear any language at any gıven moment (lots of Spanıards). The amazıng thıng ıs the shop keepers... they speak enough of any gıven language to sell theır goods to anyone. It's truly amazıng. However, thıs ıs not true of all Turkısh folks. At the lıttle famıly bbq, the uncle, alıttle round man ın hıs late 60's wıth a full head of whıte haır, turned and squarely faced me, looked me straıght ın the eye and saıd, "I am lıar." It took all of my energy to not laugh rıght ın hıs face, becuase I KNEW that wasn't what he meant, but I thought I'd gıve hım a lıttle tıme to fıx ıt. Şhevı dıdn't have that grace... he started to gıggle and the old man looked at hım embarrassed, muttered somethıng ın Turkısh, and repeated "I am LIAR." Thıs ıs where Şhevı broke ın and saıd, "He's a lawyer." OH!!! (not much dıfference ıf you ask me... wınk wınk)

Frıday nıght I went out wıth Şevı, Arzu, her frıend Nalan, Gıorgıo (another one of the uncles tht runs the hostel whose name I can't pronounce, thus the ıtalıan versıon), and some other people from another hostel. It started wıth (yup, you guessed ıt) some rakı. Then we moved on to the bar where the belly dancıng was to take place. The DJ was spınnıng some great tunes, and we all boogıed our lıtle butts off untıl the show started (took gratuıtous hot belly dancer photos for Super Swede and Thorganızer's benefıt). We wound up ın another pub after that dancıng salsa, tradıtıonal Turkısh hankerchıef stuff (very sımılar to the Kosovar versıon), and got ınto a mad coaster hurlıng fıght wıth 3 other bar patrons and the bartender. Duckıng behınd doorways, ambushıng people when they came out of the bathroom - basıcally actıng lıke 12 year olds and havıng a blast. Fınally crawled home as the fırst prayer call was goıng out from our neıghborıng mosque. Slept lıke a baby.

Stay tuned for day 2.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I'm offffff.....

Wouldn't you know it - I am leaving this afternoon (in about an hour) to begin my magnificent journey around Turkey, and I woke up this morning with a temperature of 101. I've felt it coming on all week, and i've been downing vitamins like candy, going to bed early and everything, but I still couldn't manage to keep it away. Poop. I'm on my way to the pharmacy right now for antibiotics and decongestants and antihistamines and anything else I can think of so that maybe I'll be feeling like a human tomorrow. If I have to spend two days hanging around the hostel trying to recover, so be it - I am going to Turkey today!!!! Yeah!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

This past weekend was full of good times and good eats... I'm staying with Captain Canadian right now, and she's as much of a cook as I am (ok, she's even a better cook than I am) so we've been eating like queens these past few days. Breakfast burritos to die for Friday night, Pasta primavera Saturday night, English breakfast Sunday morning; huge pork BBQ, blue cheese potato salad, homemade cheesecake with fresh black cherry topping Sunday night; homemade bacon burgers last night - mmmmm... Lucky for the Super Swede that he's been invited to share in our delicacies - well, he actually provided the honey marinated pork tenderloin Sunday. If I ate like this all the time, I'd weigh a ton.

Anyway, the real reason for posting today is to let you all know that three new photo albums have been added to the collection: My Students, 2005-06 Greece Trips, and June Events. Mostly just a bunch of going away party photos (there have been a lot of those lately), but the pictures of Afytos, Greece are definitely worth a look. It was so incredibly beautiful there.

So I'm off for Turkey on Thursday.... going to pick up my plane tickets right now. Yeeeeehaw!!

Good food, good friends

This past weekend was full of good times and good eats... I'm staying with Captain Canadian right now, and she's as much of a cook as I am (ok, she's even a better cook than I am) so we've been eating like queens these past few days. Breakfast burritos to die for Friday night, Pasta primavera Saturday night, English breakfast Sunday morning; huge pork BBQ, blue cheese potato salad, homemade cheesecake with fresh black cherry topping Sunday night; homemade bacon burgers last night - mmmmm... Lucky for the Super Swede that he's been invited to share in our delicacies - well, he actually provided the honey marinated pork tenderloin Sunday. If I ate like this all the time, I'd weigh a ton.

Anyway, the real reason for posting today is to let you all know that three new photo albums have been added to the collection: My Students, 2005-06 Greece Trips, and June Events. Mostly just a bunch of going away party photos (there have been a lot of those lately), but the pictures of Afytos, Greece are definitely worth a look. It was so incredibly beautiful there.

So I'm off for Turkey on Thursday.... going to pick up my plane tickets right now. Yeeeeehaw!!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Things I will miss about Prishtina....

This should be a short list... (just kidding)

1. My students!!

2. My friends!!

3. The Prishtina doorbell - standing outside someone's building and screaming their name over and over until they finally hear you from the 8th floor and start shouting back from the balcony. This usually takes place between 1 and 3 am or 7 and 9 am. Sleep? Who needs sleep?

4. The nightly street mudification - a new word I have coined that involves the practice of trying to tame the dust in this city by shooting thousands of gallons of water onto the streets, inducing nothing more than a river of mud running down the sidewalk. All of this while my apartment has no water after 10 pm. hmmmm.

5. Meeting the Saint at her "office" to complain about the state of the University, the state of the Union or the state of just about anything that needs complaining about. You're a rock, St. H!!

6. Camping in the living room - cooking over a one burner gas camp stove by candle light when the electricity goes out in the middle of dinner making. Very romantic party for one.

7. I would have said the Buda Bar, but since it got firebombed a few weeks ago and doesn't exist anymore, no point in that...

8. Weekend trips to Greece! (oh wait, I'm going to Turkey for a month - I'll survive. I will however be very sad to miss the big sailing trip to Corfu for Super Swede's going away party in September. BOO for going without me.)

9. Chinese at 1? twice a week. You go, Thorganizer. (That and deep fried Brie with raspberry coulis at Pjata - mmmmmmmmmmmmm.)

10. Complete mastery of American-centric Trivial Pursuit, I Spy and Alphabetical Countries/Animal noises games by the Wicked Brit, accompanied by a bottle of Bailey's.

I mean, seriously, what's not to miss?? There's so much more, but since it's nearing lunchtime (Chinese at 1??) and my tummy is a rumbling, I can't manage to focus on much more. See what happens when I get bored? I start writing nonsense. Nonsense nonsense nonsense. Love it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Side note...

Ah, another amazing thing happened to me that has renewed my faith in humanity. I mentioned before that my wallet was stolen. Cancelled all credit cards, spent a fortune getting a new one here, etc. etc. etc.

About 5 days after it had happened, I got a phone call from my landlord's daughter asking if I had lost my "pocket" (my guess a bad translation from Albanian). I had indeed!! A man had found it walking down the street, handed it over to his daughter who spoke English, thanks to a water bill receipt that was still in my wallet she was able to call the phone company and get the number of my landlord, who in turn called me. I got the whole thing back, minus the Macedonian money - creditcards, driver's license, EVERYTHING. It was brilliant.

My point is that someone went through an awful lot of trouble to track me down, and I am so thankful. I'm in a relatively difficult situation to try and replace certain documents (like a driver's license) and for them to be returned to me was such a great thing.

Ok, I seriously must finish packing now.

It's all over now....

It's done. I have 2 more "indeks" to sign, and the school year is officially over. I feel like this should be an entry where I reflect on the happenings of the past year and revel in all that I have learned.... BUT, I have to move out of my apartment today and so it goes. Nothing more than a brief recap of my boring life right now. There will be some of that later, I'm sure.

So I am giving up my adorable little apartment... so sad! I love my house. However, I am moving to a much bigger, much cheaper place up the hill a little bit. It's on the 11th floor (which is a pain in the watoosie when the electricity is out), but it has a nice view, stays warm, and like I said - it's half the rent. Yeah!!

I am in packing hell. I have to box up some things for storage (I don't actually move into that flat until September), pack some things for the States, and an entirely different set of packing for my travels.

OOH! I haven't talked about my travels yet. I am leaving sometime next week to travel for 5 weeks. Where am I going??? I will be spending 5 weeks traveling around Turkey - maybe a spot of Greece in there too. I will start in Istanbul, work my way down the west coast through Troy and Ephesus, take a 4 day boat cruise from Fethiye to Olympos where I will live in a tree house and hang out on the beach for a while, then move on to Anatolya, up through Cappadocia and Ankara, possibly hit the coast of the Black Sea if I have time, then back to Istanbul and Prishtina. Then I'm coming homeeeeee!!! (for what seems like a crazy whirlwind tour - no downtime whatsoever) I'll be in Texas 9-24, DC 24-28, LA 30-6, and back to Texas until the 12th or so. I can't wait to see y'all!!

In the midst of all this wandering around, I'll do my best to blog like a mad woman. I don't know about posting any pictures, so that may have to wait until I get home, but I promise to share all the gritty details of a woman traveling solo through a Muslim country. (Yes, paretnals, I'll check in often!)