Flying Solo in Sarıgerme

20170611_194019

To say that the end of this school year has been stressful would be an understatement.  The mountains of grading seemed to stretch much higher than any term before, all of my end-of-year duties seemed to be piled on at the same time, so many of our friends are leaving this year, and on top of all of that, we had the end-of-the-year play to prepare.  Basically, this all resulted in almost 3 weeks straight of working with no days off and I could definitely feel it.

Because of all that, I was overjoyed when I got the email that the school decided to give us a couple of extra days off while students were on field trips…until I saw that my husband was on duty.  I wanted to scream.  I needed to get out of the tiny campus bubble after almost a month of having my nose at the grindstone.

That’s when he calmly pointed out that just because he was on duty didn’t mean I had to stay.

20170611_194750

That’s when the light bulb flickered on.  We’ve been together for nearly 10 years now and because of that, it can be really easy to forget that we don’t have to do everything together.  Especially since we have moved to Turkey, we have been each other’s main support systems and rely on each other much more than we did in the States.  Now that I am much more comfortable here in Turkey, I relished in the idea of going somewhere on my own for some much-needed self-reflection and relaxation.

20170611_194534

I decided to go to Sarıgerme, a cute little coastal village near Fethiye.  I knew I wanted to go to a beach for some swimming and seaside reading, but I wanted to avoid large crowds and party scenes.  For me, this was all about relaxation.  I did my research and found that this nice little beach was only 20 minutes from Dalaman airport and much less frequented than Fethiye, Antalya, or Bodrum.  I arrived Sunday evening, so I didn’t do much, but I did manage to take in some sunset views while listening to my latest podcast series.

20170613_105724.jpg

I stayed at Lady Rose Pension and it was by far the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at in Turkey.  The couple who own the place are so incredibly friendly, welcoming, and helpful.  They helped me make the most of my few days there and I had a really nice chat with them over coffee.  Also, the breakfast there was top notch and the beach was only a 10-minute walk away.  I highly recommend it if you plan to visit the area.

20170612_160007.jpg

While there are a ton of interesting and affordable tours in the area, I wasn’t really up for a lot of running around after such a hectic few weeks, so I just decided to visit a few places on my own at my own pace.  I took a couple of minibuses over to the nearby Iztuzu Beach, which is famous for its sea turtles.

20170612_143234.jpg

20170612_135851.jpg

Iztuzu is a beautiful beach, surrounded by mountains and pink flowers.  I was amazed by how big the beach is…it took nearly an hour to walk end to end!  The sea also connects to a river delta, so I explored that area a bit as well.

20170612_185911.jpg

After a lot of walking around and swimming, I stopped by the sea turtle hospital before heading home.  One of the volunteers gave me a tour of all of the tanks and explained how they rescue and protect the sea turtles in the area, who are endangered.

20170612_164600.jpg

I headed back to Sarıgerme once it started getting dark for some dinner and a glass of wine and then curled up with a book in my hotel.

20170613_124334.jpg

On my last day there, all I wanted to do was lounge at the local beach and that’s exactly what I did.  I slept in, ate breakfast, walked to the beach, rented a sunbed and simply chilled out.

20170613_140022.jpg

There weren’t very many people on the beach, so it was easy to have a huge chunk of it to myself!  I loved alternating between walking along the water, swimming, and laying in my sunbed listening to my podcast.  I spent about five hours there and it was paradise. When it was getting close to time for me to get ready to head to the airport, I enjoyed one last 10 TL beer on the beach while drying off.

IMG-20170613-WA0013.jpg

It was so hard to leave! Having a little time to myself to relax, escape, and detox a little from the crazy year was exactly what I needed.  I definitely see a little more solo travel in my future.  Now I just need to figure out when I can go back!

20170611_194521.jpg

 

 

Reflections

20170511_212350

***I can’t believe I just finished my second year of teaching in Turkey.  Time flies like crazy here.

***I can’t believe how many of our friends are leaving this time around and I’m so sad about it.

***I got to teach some seriously amazing kids for two years in a row and I feel like the luckiest teacher in the world.

***I feel like I grew a lot as a teacher this year and I hope to do so even more next year.

***I helped start a lit mag at our school this year and I’m pretty stoked about it.

***I think I’m going to buy a dishwasher to celebrate.

***I can’t wait to FINALLY get to work on some creative projects now that my workload will be a little lighter for a few months.

***I’m looking forward to doing a little traveling through Turkey and Europe before heading back to the States.

***Speaking of which, we finally got our tickets!  It will feel good to go “home” and reset.

***Year 2 has been pretty good.  I hope Year 3 is even better.

Serenity in Altınoluk

DSC_0027.JPG

Sometimes, amidst all of the chaos of work, crowds, wild traffic, and bureaucracy, I forget how peaceful Turkey can be.  Our Swedish friend, who we met in Stockholm last year, has a summer house in Altınoluk and kindly invited us out for the weekend, which we gladly accepted.

DSC_0013.JPG

Altınoluk is a lovely village on the Aegean coast, near Edremit.  We spent most of our time enjoying the wonderful weather and taking long walks throughout the village and olive groves.

DSC_0011

We happened to run into some of her relatives (her husband was Turkish) on our daily walk, who invited us in for coffee.  One of the things I so greatly admire about Turkish culture is the hospitality and sense of community.

DSC_0014.JPG

After a nice chat, we went down to the local fishery for lunch, where we indulged in some freshly caught sardines.  They were delicious.

DSC_0019.JPG

Much to my delight, we followed up our lunch with a visit to the local pazar.  I bought some delicious olives to snack on, as well as a couple of pretty summer dresses.

DSC_0016.JPG

Without a doubt, the best part of the weekend was sitting out on the patio drinking coffee and exchanging stories.  I learned so much about what Turkey was like in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s (which was fascinating) and about traveling through Europe in general. When the sun started to set, we exchanged the cups of coffee for glasses of wine and talked late into the night.    I felt refreshed in a way I haven’t felt in quite a long time and realized I haven’t been taking enough time for myself lately.  Some good company, village charm, and fresh air were exactly what I needed.

Türkiye’de Çok Kedi Var: Round 4

As I was looking through my photos, I realized I hadn’t posted one of these in a long time. I also realized that I take a lot of photos of cats.

20170305_130633.jpg

Diggin’ this guy’s vibes

20170311_140801.jpg

The only kind of cat fights I have to break up regularly…thank goodness

20170311_145333.jpg

20170311_145353.jpg

This cat reminded me of a clock

20170209_102532.jpg

Also, there’s this.

20170429_191932.jpg

And who can resist a photo like this? ❤

I’m certain I’ve said this more than once now, but the cat culture is one of the things I have always loved most about Turkey.  I’ve always wanted a pet cat, but feel that my living situation isn’t stable enough to make that kind of commitment.  In Turkey, I feel like I can love, pet, and take care of cats without the responsibility of being a pet owner because they are such a big part of every city and not completely wild.

Tides of Change

DSC_0307.JPG

How the hell is it already May?

The sun is brighter than ever, often waking me up well before my alarm clock.  The weather is more bearable, the flowers are blooming…change is in the air and it all seems so sudden.

I feel like this second half of the school year has been blazing by at thrice the normal speed.  There is a part of me that is happy about that because all teachers naturally rejoice at the thought of summer, but there is another part of me that isn’t ready for all the change that comes with it.

Being an expat means that you have to learn to say a lot more goodbyes than most people.  Goodbye to friends and family in the motherland.  Goodbye to fellow expat friends who move on to other adventures.  Of course, being a teacher also means a lot of goodbyes.  Goodbyes to teachers and staff who leave or retire…and to all of the students who are off to do bigger and better things.

18199082_1030867390379506_6214975121181953375_n.jpg

Escape the room shenanigans in Istanbul…we succeeded, of course.

This year is no different.  We have quite a few goodbyes in our near future and are trying to soak up the present while it’s still here.  We’ve been sticking around campus more often than usual and going on adventures with friends who will soon be leaving.

As for us, Turkey is stuck with us for at least one more year.  We signed on for a third year at the school and are looking forward to what next year will bring.

In the meantime, we are trying to enjoy what’s left of now.

Tabletop Tag!

I’ve been a bit of a homebody these last few weeks due to a nasty illness and the usual pile of work that never seems to end.  Still, I’ve managed to pack in quite a bit of low key fun lately, such as binging on podcasts and dusting off my bookshelf….but my favorite pastime these days has been tabletop gaming.

I totally struck gold with my current co-workers.  My game collection was one of my top priorities when I moved to Turkey and I was so happy when I discovered that practically everyone else in our department also had an amazing game collection…and we’re not talking Monopoly here (although we’ve developed an affinity for a version of Trivial Pursuit from the ’80s).  Among the five of us, we have Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Pandemic, and many other games of the like.  For the past two years, we have tried to get together at least once a week after school for an intense board game session. I pretty much live for Thursday nights now.

When I stumbled upon this Tabletop tag from A Geek Girl’s Guide, I knew I had to participate.  Here goes:

1. Favorite type of tabletop games?

I especially love strategy games, but lately I’ve been loving cooperative games as well.

2. Favorite time to play tabletop games?

Thursday nights on campus!  It’s the perfect way to gear up for the weekend.

3. Favorite game you have ever played?

Betrayal at House on the Hill!  It’s a different game every single time!

4. First game you ever played?

My earliest tabletop gaming memory is playing Sorry with my parents.

5. What’s the most recent game you’ve played?

Gloom!

6. What game have you played the most?

That’s a tough question.  Probably Mancala or Scrabble.

7. What game do you want to add to your shelf?

My friend has Pandemic and I’d really love to own it as well.  I also have my eye on Resistance.

8. Favorite game to share with non-gamers?

I like Farkle because it’s so simple.

9. Well-known game you’ve never played?

I have friends that rave about Magic, but I haven’t dabbled in it yet.

10. Show off your game shelf

I wish I could say I had a beautiful game shelf, but it’s really more of a game bag at this point.  In order to maximize the number of games I could bring with me to Turkey, I had to throw away all of the boxes they came in (it felt so wrong!) and instead, organize all of the boards, cards, and tiny pieces into a variety of Ziploc bags.

My collection currently includes:

  • Betrayal at House on the Hill
  • Fluxx
  • Gloom
  • Aggravation
  • Risk
  • Mancala
  • Clue
  • Scrabble Apple
  • Quelf
  • Cards Against Humanity
  • Story Cubes (also great for teaching!)
  • LCR
  • Uno
  • Tavla (Turkish Backgammon)
  • Werewolf

If you want to participate in the tag:

1. Favorite type of tabletop games?

2. Favorite time to play tabletop games?

3. Favorite game you have ever played?

4. First game you ever played?

5. What’s the most recent game you’ve played?

6. What game have you played the most?

7. What game do you want to add to your shelf?

8. Favorite game to share with non-gamers?

9. Well-known game you’ve never played?

10. Show off your game shelf!

I’m looking forward to adding to my collection this summer!

B(eating) Burnout

DSC_0061.JPG

What a long, strange term it has been.  My life has pretty much revolved around nothing but work for the past two months and I can really feel it.  Now that we are reaching the end-of-term chaos, I am more exhausted than ever.  No amount of sleep or coffee seems to wake me up anymore and I find myself daydreaming about spring break at least twice an hour.

For the most part, we have stayed on campus this term, mainly because of work obligations.  After FIVE consecutive weeks of nothing but this tiny microcosm, I had to get out before I lost my mind, so we FINALLY went to Istanbul for the weekend for no other reason than to get the hell off campus.

Can you tell I’m a little burnt out?

Luckily, I dealt with it in the healthiest way I know how:  retail therapy and binge eating!  It was super effective.

DSC_0062.JPG

We started off with  breakfast at a new, hipster cereal restaurant in Moda called Crazy Flakes and it didn’t disappoint.  They sell cereal brands from all over the world, including my beloved Peanut Butter Crunch!  You can mix cereals with a variety of toppings, but I opted for a plain bowl with some sliced bananas on top.  SO good!  My husband went straight for the Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

DSC_0077.JPG

Afterward, we hopped on the ferry over to Galata, where we planned to spend the night.  We walked and shopped around Istiklal before taking a little detour to Cezayir Sokağı, known informally as “The French Street” for its pastel pink facades and floral decor.  It’s a fun-looking street, but there isn’t much that’s French about it.  After about five minutes of being harassed by waiters to come sit down, we headed back to Istiklal.

Turning back to Galata, we went to one of our favorite restaurants in all of Istanbul, Picante, for some delicious Mexican food and real margaritas.  After dinner, we were pretty much out for the count, so we called it a night and watched YouTube videos until we succumbed to our food comas.

DSC_0083.JPG

The next morning, we walked down to our favorite breakfast joint, Arada Cafe.  They serve a delightful mix of both Turkish and Lebanese foods and all of it is homemade and delicious.  We got the Turkish/Lebanese breakfast platter, which was basically an epic feast with all of the classic Turkish breakfast staples, as well as hummus, tahini, falafel, zahter, and all kinds of other delicious things I didn’t even know the name of.  Needless to say, I didn’t need lunch or dinner later that evening.

We tried our best to walk off the food babies while doing a little last minute shopping for SPAIN next week!  The end of the term is nigh and I am so ready!

Any teachers out there:  How do you deal with burnout?  I find it especially hard as an expat in a very small, sheltered community.