Settled

dsc_0259In the blink of an eye, here we are in a new season.

This third year seems…different. Everything that at first seemed wild and foreign to me now seems so routine and familiar. Bargaining at the pazar, my days in the classroom, fumbling through conversations in taxis while zooming through traffic – it all feels so natural.

With my change in status from new to veteran yabanci, I find myself becoming more of a homebody. When I first made the big move, I set my sights on seeing something new at every opportunity; now, I am settling into favorite places and activities. Such a change may seem uneventful from an outsider’s perspective, but for me, it is welcome. As much as I love traveling, it feels good to finally feel like I belong here. It feels good to be home.

A World of Color in Alaçatı

IMG_0935.JPGAfter returning from Chios, we spent the last few days of our sweet, sweet summer in Alaçatı, an adorable little town just 15 minutes east of Çeşme.  We were pretty sunburnt and tired of swimming at this point, so a couple of days of wandering through colorful streets, drinking coffee, and stuffing our faces sounded pretty perfect.

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By night, the streets were an overpopulated nightmare that left me feeling a little like this, but in the mornings, they took my breath away.  Hardly a soul was to be found before noon, so my husband and I had the winding, colorful alleys to ourselves for hours.  I think I’ll just let the pictures do most of the talking on this one.

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Alaçatı is the sort of place that really embodies summer, with bright pops of color and flowers hanging above the streets.  It was a nice way to bid farewell to the season before long, lazy, sunny days are replaced with work and chilly weather.

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Chilling Out in Çeşme

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I realize I’ve neglected this space for about a month now.  To be honest, going from the U.S. back to Turkey wasn’t the smoothest of transitions, especially considering that we had to get up for a long day of meetings just 10 hours after stepping of the plane.  The week of jet lag that followed didn’t help.

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Still, we survived, got ready for the upcoming school year, and mercifully took off for a 10-day holiday, thanks to the Bayram.  We contemplated going off on a new European adventure, but after a crazy summer full of fast-paced traveling, we wanted to hang out a little closer to home and relax.  In the end, we decided to spend a few days in Çeşme, a nice beach town on the west coast of Turkey.

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Right away, we knew we had made the right choice.  The town was cozy, relaxed, very pedestrian-friendly and full of delicious meyhanes.  

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Our agenda mainly involved beach time, alternating between lounging in a sunbed and swimming in the beautiful Aegean Sea.  While there are many beautiful beaches in the Çeşme area, several of them are private and will charge an entrance fee for the day. We found the public beach – Ilıca – to be more than satisfactory and felt no need to pay for more than a sunbed and a couple of beers.  The water was perfect and there was plenty of space for everyone to lounge and swim, regardless of the Bayram crowds.

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Aside from beach bumming, we took some time to explore the local castle, which had some interesting exhibits and offered fantastic views of the city and marina from the top. The fact that we got free entry with our Muzekarts was just the icing on the cake.

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Çeşme was lovely and refreshing – exactly what we needed after a hectic summer and before the start of another school year!

 

Perfect Podcasts for Summer Escapes

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Is anyone else out there addicted to podcasts?  I’ve mentioned this before, but ever since I taught Serial last winter, I’ve jumped straight down the rabbit hole and have done a lot of binge-listening.  I love how podcasts – unlike TV shows – allow you to multi-task since you don’t have to keep your eyes on a screen.  I started out just listening to them at home to have a little interesting background noise while I grade or do chores, but lately they’ve also become great travel companions.  Whether I’m on the long flight between Turkey and the U.S. or cruising the highway, I’m bound to be listening to something.  Since they’ve been such a game-changer for me, I thought it might be worth it to share a suggested list of podcast/rip pairings based on my summer listening…kind of like a list of wine/dinner pairings, except without the wine.  Or dinner.  Anyway…

For a trip near the water…

Passage

The Bridge

For the Deep South…

S-Town (my personal favorite of the summer!)

For a classic American road trip…

Alice Isn’t Dead

Behemoth

For a ghost town voyage…

The Tunnels

Return Home

For those who meditate…

Within the Wires

For anyone who doesn’t mind a little gore…

The Box

Darkest Night

For those who wish to transcend our physical world…

Rabbits

Archive 81

The Far Meridian

I’m always looking for new podcasts (because I’m obsessed), so I’m all ears (no pun intended) for any recommendations!!

Görüşürüz

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It’s official…my second school year in Turkey has ended and summer is here! This time around, it’s bittersweet. We have quite a few friends leaving us, so we all decided to stick around for one last weekend together.

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We drove to a nearby sahil (seaside area) for an all-day picnic. The weather was gorgeous and because it was the last day of Ramadan, we pretty much had the place to ourselves all afternoon. We had an epic picnic, which was basically a smorgasbord of Turkish, American, and Mexican food, complete with a dessert table.

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We discovered this gem while grabbing provisions…

The whole day was spent chatting, stuffing our faces, playing frisbee, and climbing playground equipment like children. When we had finally had our fill of the great outdoors, we headed back to the incredibly empty campus for a rooftop terrace party, which included mojitos and obnoxiously loud music. It was the perfect way to end our last night at the school…and probably our last night together for a long time.

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It’s never easy to say goodbye, but at least we made it an epic goodbye. Now to enjoy some well-deserved summertime freedom!

Flying Solo in Sarıgerme

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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