September 27, 2011

Football, Friends, and Fun!

This weekend was a very eventful and fun weekend!  Friday night, our friends, Nick and Mindy, came to stay with us from Nashville.  We got up early on Saturday morning to head to Tuscaloosa to see our favorite team play!  We parked at April's house (Erol's sister) and had a great, but too short visit, with her before heading to a couple friends' tailgates on the quad.  Unfortunately, the batteries in my phone died RIGHT when we got to Tuscaloosa.  So,  have no pictures from the day.

The weather was absolutely beautiful while tailgating but the sun was miserable while we were at the game.  Besides the fact that I was uncontrollably sweating, the game was awesome as we pulled out our first SEC victory! 

Bring on the Gators...

Then, on Sunday we had a delicious sushi lunch with Nick and Mindy and then headed to the Vulcan for some music.  A few times a year, the Vulcan hosts bands on its lawn and sells hot pizza and cold beer. Couldn't be better!  The weather was amazing as well as the view.  We hung out with our friends, Liz and Justin there too!

What a nice way to recover from a long weekend...

September 20, 2011

The Last Day of Vacation

We were so sad to leave Kusadasi on Saturday to fly back to Istanbul for our last night.  We had the BEST time with Aunt Deniz, Askin, Selin, and Grandma!  Deniz and Askin did SO much for us... you wouldn't believe how much they did to make sure that we had the time of our lives.  And that we did!  We miss everyone terribly and wish that we could make more frequent trips to visit them. 

Turkey is the most fascinating country I have been to and I could not have had a better partner-in-crime than Erol.  We will forever remember the awesome trip and all of the people that we met along the way.  And we will never forget the hospitality that Aunt Deniz and Uncle Askin showed us during our stay.  They are the BEST!!!

It took us a few days to recover from the time change and to adjust to our "normal" schedule of work and laundry and cleaning up the house :(  However, the thing that made us happy was to return to the U.S. at the beginning of football season!  I do have to say, that I was NOT prepared for football season this year.   Before it started, I said that I was not ready for my Saturdays to revolve around football and I said that I will NOT be upset about any games this year... that is in the past for me! 

Well, let me tell you how long that lasted... about twelve minutes into the first game we saw on T.V!  Then, I was right back to cheering, worrying, and yelling at the very stupid and totally blind refs! Ahhhhhh... it gets me every time!

This weekend we are heading to Tuscaloosa for the game and couldn't be more excited!  We have two of our very good friends, Nick and Mindy, coming into town to tailgate with us on Saturday.  I'm ready for some cold beer, barbeque, and Alabama Football!  Can't wait!

September 19, 2011

Day 9 & 10: Samos, Greece

The next two days were spent on a side trip to the Greek Island of Samos.  We were SO excited about going to Greece!  We took a ferry from Kusadasi to Samos that lasted only an hour and a half or so.

Erol and Selin look very excited :)

We took some great pictures on the ferry ride.

Entering the port in Samos

When we arrived at Samos, we drove to the area of the Island to meet up with friends of Askin's and to check into our hotel.  This area was called Pythagorion.  For all of you nerds out there, you will be super excited to hear that this is the place that Pythagoras was from.  For all you not-so-nerdy people, you may be thinking that name sounds familiar.  Well, if you remember from Sophomore year Geometry, Pythagoras was a mathematician who came up with the Pythagorian theorem.  You know... "a2 + b2 = c2"??!! 

The town was super cute with cafe's and bars along side the port.  We spent most of our time in this area.

View from the hotel balcony

Memorial to Pythagoras

For lunch, we went up into the mountains of Samos to a small town that I can't remember the name of.  The food was delicious and view were even better!

Us with Grandma

Us with Askin and Selin...

After lunch, we headed to a beach on the island for some relaxing time in the sun.  The interesting part of the beaches on this island is that it was made of rocks... not sand!  Us sensitive feet people needed shoes to walk around the beach, but that's ok!  I took a very peaceful nap on my beach chair...

That night, we met up with Askin's friends for drinks and then dinner.  The restaurant was on the beach and our table was practically in the water.  I LOVED it!  I thought "this is how we should dine all the time!"  The food was incredibly fresh.  We had octopus and red snapper that is to.die.for.  For drinks, we had bottle after bottle of Ouzo.  This drink is very similar to the Turkish drink, raki, that I have previously blogged about.  Ouzo makes for a very fun night!

Deniz and Erol before dinner

Erol, Askin, and his friend at the restaurant drinking Ouzo

The next morning, we had breakfast in the town before doing some shopping!  I had so much fun looking through all the stores.  There was so much that I wanted to buy but I just bought a nice scarf.  I can't wait to show it off!  For lunch, we had gyros on Askin's friends' boat.  This is the life that I want to live!

We were very tired at the end of the day and after the ferry ride back to Kusadasi that evening.  We had dinner at Askin's hotel and then went to sleep before our last day in Kusadasi...

Day 8: Kusadasi

I know that I have been slow in blogging about our trip lately, but time has gotten away from me the past week.  I hope that at least someone is still interested in out trip because I love to remember and share everything from our amazing trip.

So, to continue...

Wednesday in Kusadasi was a relaxing day for us and we got in a lot of family bonding.  Aunt Deniz and Uncle Askin picked us up at the hotel on their boat and took us out to sea.  The water was absolutely beautiful and the weather was perfect!  However, the water was FREEZING.  Those who know how much I hate being cold will not be suprised to hear that I was the only one who did not swim in the sea.  I took a quick dip and immediately returned to the boat to warm up in the sun.

Captain Deniz

Look at how beautiful the water is!

Erol, Askin, and Selin braving the cold water.

Erol loved it!

Another breathtaking view! 

September 13, 2011

Day 6 & 7 - Kusadasi

I will now continue the story of our Turkish adventures... :)

Tuesday in Kusadasi was beautiful but HOT!  We slept in a little and then met Aunt Deniz who took us to Ephesus.  In case you need a quick history lesson, Ephesus was an ancient Greek city.  It was the second largest city in the Roman Empire.  It dates back to the 1st century A.D!  So, in other words, it's really old.

We explored Ephesus for a couple hours that morning.  It was a very interesting sight to see with all the old buildings and statues.  It was so hot this day, that towards the end of the trip we had to forego seeing some of the sights.  We were not all that prepared for the blazing sun so Aunt Deniz bought us hats for our adventure and it was well worth it!  Here are some pictures from Ephesus:

Got to love the toursit look!

The small theater

A headless statue... haha!

Ancient toilets.  Apparentaly there was no privacy back in the day

Town library

The Big Theater

After our tour of Ephesus, our chauffeur, I mean Aunt Deniz (haha!) picked us up and took us on a beautiful ride up the mountain to a small town called Sirence, I think, where we had an outstanding lunch.  It was one of the best Turkish meals I had!  Then, we went shopping through the cute little town.  While we were there, Aunt Deniz bought us the most beautiful souveniers.  First, she bought us a hand-painted plate that was full of all the colors that I love. And then, we went to a little jewelry shop where Deniz bought me a ring.  It is beautiful.  It is hand-made in Turkey and something that I will treasure forever!  (I will take pictures of both items and share them later)

Me and Aunt Deniz while shopping

In the town, we stopped at a quaint, but beautiful church that was once the church of John the Baptist.  It had amazing views of the mountains as well!

After Sirence, we went to the Home of the Virgin Mary where it is believed that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, moved to about 5-7 years after His death.  It is a very small home where many Christians and other believers go to pray.

I said a prayer with a napkin...or something like that

This is a drinking fountain that is said to bring you a long healthy life if you drink the water
So, we drank it!

Then, we headed back to the hotel for some pampering time!  Aunt Deniz made an appointment for all three of us to have a Turkish hamam (or Turkish bath).  If you ever have the chance to have a Turkish bath, you MUST do it! (if you are googling it right now to see what it is, please keep in mind that we were all wearing our bathing suits...haha!)  In a turkish bath, you lay down on a warm stone bed.  Then, the staff scrubs you down with an exfoliating sponge.  And you would not believe how much dead skin they remove!  Then, they cover you with soap and wash your entire body.  Afterwards, your skin feels amazingly smooth and you smell nice too!  After the Turkish Bath, Erol and I were pampered some more with a couples' massage.  To say the least, we were spoiled rotten!

That night we celebrated Grandma's 78th birthday at the hotel.  Her first cousin came to dinner with us with her children and grandchildren.  It was so good to meet more members of the family.  Friends of Deniz's and Askin's also came to dinner with us.  We had a great time and the food was delicious!

Erol and Grandma

Get 'em Grandma!

Us with Aunt Deniz

What an awesome day and night we had!  Every day has been full of adventure with many more to come!

Stay tuned for more...

September 9, 2011

Day 5- Kusadasi Family Time!

On Monday, we boarded a plane and flew to Kusadasi (on the coast of Turkey) for our long-awaited visits to the family.  Aunt Deniz picked us up from the airport and took us to Uncle Askin's resort, Aqua Fantasy.  The drive to Kusadasi was beautiful with all the mountains and the coast!  Also, the resort was HUGE with so many things to do, including a water park!

When we arrived at Aqua Fantasy and was greeted by Uncle Askin,Cousin Selin, and Grandma!

We went to our hotel room and saw that the hotel had decorated our suite just for us!  Askin said it was the "honeymoon" special!

With our own jacuzzi...

and bottle of wine, fruit, and pastries.

The view from our balcony was amazing!

After we got settled into our room, we joined Erol's cousin Selin at the water park.  Since she is nine years old, she knew exactly what to do and where to go.  We had a great tour guide with us for that but she really wore me out!

That night, we had a wonderful dinner at the resort with the family and their friends.  We were so happy to finally be with everyone!

Erol and Aunt Deniz

I had to get a picture too!

After dinner we had drinks on the beach and then headed to the room for some rest and relaxation before another busy day of exploring the country of Turkey....