À Bruxelles

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Our time in Brussels was short, but sweet.  I was immediately struck by the Christmas decorations, which were much more elaborate than any of the other cities we visited in Belgium.  Lights everywhere!  My favorite part was watching all of the shop owners stepping outside to decorate their windows.

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Since I was still feeling terrible and our time was limited, I had only one thing on my list: The Magritte Museum.

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I got really into Magritte’s art and the Surrealist movement in general when I was in college taking a French Lit course.  I love the playful juxtapositions and philosophical suggestions in his work.

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The exhibition was well worth the 2 Euro fee and I was surprised at how reasonably priced the gift shop was.  I left that museum with a noticeable spring in my step, in spite of my cold.

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We ended our last night in Brussels (and the last night of our trip) by strolling the streets looking at all the Christmas lights and hopping in and out of cafes, where my husband continued to sample Belgium beer and I tried to soothe my sore throat with hot tea.  I’m afraid I didn’t do Brussels much justice, but that just gives me a reason to go back.  Perhaps next time I’ll even bump into Stromae.

Nöbetçi: A Day in the Life

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Only two weeks into the school year and it was time for my first 24 hour weekend duty of the year…yay!  Honestly, it’s not so bad – especially in this nice weather – but it can get a bit dull wandering around an empty campus all day.  I decided to spice my long day up a little by documenting it in photos.

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Rise and shine!

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Breakfast time! (I love my simit with a little butter and honey)

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Coffee to the rescue, courtesy of my husband!

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I love being surrounded by art!

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Admiring local wildlife

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I could hear my husband’s music blaring from across the parking lot!

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A visitor

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Lunch, with lots of red pepper

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A tunnel of pine

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No kids?  On a day like this?

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From the top of the hill

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It just wasn’t a blackberry summer this year 😦

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My favorite word in Turkish…look it up…you’ll see why

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Doodling my way through study hall…

What a looooooong day it was.  I couldn’t wait to come home at 10, kick my shoes off, and sprawl out on the floor.  At least it’s one duty down now.

Night on the Town

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It’s been a little quiet around these parts…mostly because I’ve been on vacation without internet access, which is much needed every once in awhile.  Tonight is our last night before we head home and put our nose to the grindstones, so I’m trying to take it all in.

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We spent a couple of nights in Istanbul before departing for our Italian getaway.  We decided to stay in Galata this time and I’m so glad we did because look at that adorable apartment!  That window seat was everything.

After one of the most delicious breakfasts I’ve had yet (soup counts as breakfast, right?), we decided to put our Muzekarts to use and check out the art at Istanbul Modern.

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I love contemporary art and  I love having such easy access to great museums now, considering my relatively isolated youth.  I was especially taken aback by how well the art at Istanbul Modern seemed to reflect the often fragmented nature of Turkish identity.

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Perhaps I’m saying this because I grew up out in the boonies in the middle of Nowhere, USA, but it seems to me that Turkey values art so much more as a society than the U.S. does.  I really can’t get enough.

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After several hours in the museum, we had worked up an appetite and decided to stop for…

***drum roll***

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MEXICAN FOOD!!!  I have to get my fix whenever I can 😉

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We ended our fabulous day with a long walk down Istiklal, which was much less crowded than usual during the holiday!!  We also happened to find a good gelato stop on the corner and indulged to the tune of the many street musicians.  Pre-vacation perfection.

 

Istanbul’s Art Scene

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One of the things I love about Turkey is the constant presence of art, whether it’s in the form of paintings, drawings, handcrafts, pottery, music, or literature – you name it, it’s probably here.  Where I come from, there is fairly little emphasis on the arts.  It’s not that people from Kansas aren’t creative or artistic, but there is a strong sense of “you will never make a living off of this, so don’t bother” that can really stamp that kind of passion out of a person, even if you don’t plan on making a career out of it.  After more than 20 years of boring, rectangular buildings and almost no funding for anything that didn’t seem profitable, it’s so refreshing to be in a place where art and music are on every street and no two buildings look quite the same.

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MIXER, in all its locked up glory

My husband and I both love modern art and had completely failed to visit any art museums in Turkey all year, so we decided it was long overdue to check some out.  We planned our whole weekend around visiting several modern art museums around the Galata area, even booking our hotel within walking distance of our top picks…unfortunately, things didn’t exactly go as planned.  Not one, but THREE of the museums on our list were closed when we arrived on site, despite us being there within the listed visiting hours.  There have been rumors about some of the museums being closed due to censorship, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not.  In either case, we were very disappointed after having walked several miles up and down hills and through many winding alleys for nothing.

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As we were walking back towards the main part of the neighborhood to deal with my growing “hanger” after walking for so long, something occurred to me:  just because the museum was closed did not mean I couldn’t experience Turkey’s modern art scene.  There is amazing street art on pretty much every street in the entire city.  While I certainly hope I am able to go back and actually see the museums (because it’s so, so important to support the arts if you can, people!), I’m happy to say I still got my fill of contemporary art and got a pretty good workout in the process.  The streets, it seems, will always belong to the people -and particularly the artists.

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Love Malala!  Also, I could actually read the Turkish on this one without looking it up.  Yay!

It wasn’t the weekend we had planned, but to be honest, I had a pretty awesome time wandering through the streets looking for hidden gems and also picking out gifts for family since summer is right around the corner (yikes!).  You could seriously plan a whole week around Istanbul’s street art and still probably not see everything.  I’m looking forward to checking out some different neighborhoods next time.  Istanbul is such a special city!