my oh-so-normal life

Location: California, United States

There are no random acts. We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind. (the five people you meet in heaven)

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Awful Truth
*Instanbul, Turkey
Awful but true

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Interesting Underwear
Taksim Square, Istanbul

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Beyoglu and Taksim Square
At one point in our shopping adventures, we were told that Taksim Square was very different from the other areas of Istanbul that we were visiting, that it was much more Western and that we wouldn’t see anyone in Muslim dress. All of the aforementioned was definitely true. As we walked from Galata Tower to Taksim Square, we saw a more European looking crowd. We saw everything from clothing stores including lingerie and explicit t-shirt shops to restaurants and bars and even a gay bar. Definitely a change of pace. We also found a café with a terrace near Galata Tower that gave us splendid views of the surrounding areas of the city. Simply amazing.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Latest Fashion Trends
*Istanbul, Turkey

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Turkish Engrish

*This last pic comes from the back pocket of a man I saw on the street. I couldn't believe that he actually consented to letting me take the picture.... Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Visiting Asia
When R and I decided to stay in Istanbul and not take a trip to another part of Turkey, I told him that I wanted to take one of the ferries over to Asia and visit that part of Istanbul. We went twice; the ferry rides were great, giving a different perspective on the city and how everything comes together. We visited a few mosques and did a bit of shopping (surprise, surprise) and even found the outlet district by accident. It’s interesting to think that we were in both Europe and Asia and how that fact puts Turkey in such a unique position.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

I stopped in the supermarket for a quick look around. (It's one of the things I like to do when traveling; I'm weird like that....) I found a refrigerator full of all types of Efes, Turkish beer. Hmmmmm. Seems like destiny that I would find this.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Adventures on a Turkish Train
I thought that riding the bus in Turkey was an adventure. The train, in many ways, turned out to be an even bigger adventure. I’ve spent a lot of time traveling on trains in both Japan and Europe. While there are differences, train travel seems second nature to me and, I thought, would not hold any shocks or surprises.
I was wrong.
As we pulled out of the station where we boarded, the doors did not close. Unless someone physically closes the doors, they remain open. The first time we rode the train, I was simply shocked as we rode along, gaining speed, and several train doors remained open. Later, I thought how crazy it was as twenty-something boys goofed around, one sitting with his legs dangling out of the train as we sped along. R winced as a train passed in the opposite direction. While we didn’t see any maiming, it certainly makes you think.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Diet Sandwich

Not sure what it is, but you probably can't get it from McDonald's on Wheels....

Friday, October 20, 2006

McDonald's On Wheels

Istanbul, Turkey

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Walking in Istanbul
R is one of my friends who likes to walk. When faced with a choice of walking for an hour or a 15-minute (or less) bus ride, we will opt for walking. This has its good and bad points. In Istanbul, it took us a while to orient ourselves which lead to long, circular adventures to reach our destination. Not that we found that a bad thing: it gave us the opportunity to see many things and parts of Istanbul that we would not have otherwise seen. So, as we left The Blue Mosque, we found ourselves on one of our far-reaching adventures as we attempted to visit Hagia Sofia. In the end, we were on the homestretch when we were delayed by (yet another) carpet salesman. And, yes, this time, I did purchase a carpet.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

“Ma’am, this is Istanbul”
Day Two saw us walking around near a mosque where we got off the bus. Our intention was to make our way to The Blue Mosque, then onto Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sofia (a church.) Somehow (although not so surprising) we ended up walking though a market area which turned out to be the Spice Market. I purchased a couple of shawls, threw them into my purse and pushed my purse under my arm, toward my back. The man who had just sold me the scarves pulled the purse in front of me and told me “Ma’am, this is Istanbul.” Point taken.

The Spice Market

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Turkish Crosswalk Signal

Quite clever and creative, I must say. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Great Bazaar
R and I went to the Great Bazaar to have a look around, and, of course, neither one of us is extremely opposed to shopping. Having traveled to many third world countries and shopped at the markets, I knew that haggling would be involved in our shopping experience. I did not, however, realize how many people would approach us, in the bazaar or later on the street, and invite us to look at the carpets in their store. By the end of our time in the bazaar, I was tired and ready to breathe air out in the open on the street. Even though we looked at many carpets, we did not buy any that day. The most interesting bit about looking for a carpet was probably that both R and I were looking that first day. At one point, R was frustrated because while we were both asking questions, the salesmen were always directing their answers to me. I grabbed him around the waist and whispered in his ear, “They think we’re married.” Since this thought hadn’t crossed his mind, he began to laugh and realized how funny the situation actually was.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Adventures on a Turkish Bus
Day One (or at least later after our early morning arrival at the hotel) saw us making our way into town to get our first glimpses of Istanbul. We’d gotten a recommendation for an area of town near the beach, which turned out to be near the airport. We had no idea this was a 45 minute bus or train ride to the city. We tried to take the hotel shuttle, but it turned out to be full. So, the bus adventure began.
When we hopped on the bus, we approached the driver to purchase a ticket, only to be directed to a man sitting in the first seat on the opposite side who was selling tickets. Unbeknownst to us, this was the only day we would see ticket sellers on the bus. Riding the bus gave us an opportunity to see bits of Istanbul that we never would have seen and a chance to see how the people actually live. We also had to change busses to get where we wanted to go which provided another challenge and a chance to interact with the Turks. My most memorable moment on the bus was probably when the driver was attempting a sharp turn and the driver of a car had pulled too far up into his path. The bus driver leaned out the window, yelled at the car’s driver and gestured, and the man backed up in a hurry. Not something you see everyday in my bit of the world.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Destination Turkey
When I asked R if he would be around so that I could visit him in Frankfurt, he told me that he was leaving his job which provided us a chance to travel somewhere together. We decided to go to Istanbul as neither of us had been to Turkey, and we felt that it was a good place to travel with someone.
So, the adventure begins... we left Frankfurt on a 10 p.m. flight and arrived in Istanbul around 2 a.m. After going through passport control, with a quick diversion to get a Turkish visa (a.k.a. a way to fleece tourists for more money), we found a taxi and headed to the hotel, finally getting into the room around 3:30 a.m. local time. Bleary eyed, we slept our first hours in Turkey.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Quote of the Day
---courtesy of So

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” Mark Twain

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Frankfurt Bike-Taxis
Cool, but does everything need to have advertising?????

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

R had told me that he wasn’t thrilled with Frankfurt, that the town itself was a bit boring, and that there was nothing particularly interesting in town. While in Verona, I met an someone who said that Frankfurt was wonderful and a beautiful town. Hmmmmmm. It turns out that most of Frankfurt was leveled by WWII, so most of the city was rebuilt post-1945. One of R’s friends IM’d me asking how I found Frankfurt. There is nothing wrong with Frankfurt, but it’s much further north and hence colder than the other places I had just visited. After Verona and Provence, Frankfurt was nice, but for me it can’t hold a candle to the Mediterranean. That’s where I feel most comfortable.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dumpster Diving---French Style
As we walked through Cornillon-Confoux, a strong sent of wine wafted through the street. We finally determined that it was coming from the dumpster in the street. I had to get a peek, so I climbed up and looked in to discover crushed grapes covered with a tarp. Gives a whole new take on dumpster diving.

Monday, October 09, 2006

St. Chamas
I was headed to St. Chamas in the Provence area of France to visit some friends whom, coincidentally, I also met in Japan. St. Chamas is really charming, and we visited a couple of other villages as well as Aix-en-Provence and the aqueduct at Roquevafour. Provence is “beautiful, gorgeous, wish you were here,” and the atmosphere is relaxing and laid-back. My friends are thrilled with their recent move to the area from Paris, and it’s easy to understand why. The charm of Provence will always live on.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Next stop: France
There is no way to fly from Verona to Marseille without going through another city, like Munich. When I arrived in Marseille, it was grey and raining. Horrible weather. My friends picked me up at the airport and asked me (now that I was in my third country in a few hours) if I didn’t want to change my shoes from the high-heeled sandals I was wearing to something else. So, I broke out the turquoise tennis shoes that I had taken to Australia. The funny thing is... when I was in Australia I felt quite self-conscious of the bright turquoise tennis shoes, but in Europe, they went right along in with the brighter color palette. Fitting in with the locals.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

European Directness
(or should I say bluntness?)
So much for the Surgeon General's warning in the US. Maybe we should take a clue from the Europeans and go for broke.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

An Unloading Zone or a Large Hockey Puck?
Verona, Italy

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Novel Idea

While I have seen many cars and truck with advertisements painted on them, this is the first I've seen where it's written backwards, so that you can read it in your rearview mirror.

***I wonder if the fact that this car is advertising champagne and is covered in bubbles has anything to do with its "cool factor."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Vigneti Villabella
Verona, Part II
The reason for my trip to Verona was to attend the wedding of A, an American friend whom I met while living in Japan. The wedding took place at a vineyard, Vigneti Villabella, just outside of Verona, an incredibly gorgeous setting. There were many people there from the US and Italy as well as several other countries. At one point, I overheard one of A’s friends from the States say, “Oh, this setting, it’s so A. If it weren’t like this, in a foreign country, it wouldn’t be her.” It made me think about the premise of this blog: that I think my life is oh-so-normal, and I don’t see anything out of the ordinary with anything A has done, not in all her travels, not in living in Japan or Italy. But that’s because my life is like that. Other people see things differently. Going back to the beginning, what’s normal is what’s normal for you. This is just another reminder of that. You can think someone else’s life is more boring or more exciting, but you never know until “you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” And then there’s always, “The grass is always greener.”

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